Content is King: Matt Britten and the Broadway Briefing

AMT Lab Contributor Kevin O’Hora recently spoke with Matt Britten, founder of Broadway Briefing, to follow up on a recent article about e-newsletters. Read below to hear about Matt’s experience with Broadway Briefing and the example it can set for arts managers.

Kevin O'Hora: How long have you been working on Broadway Briefing and what inspired you to do so?

Matt Britten: I started the Briefing just about two years ago, in April of 2015. (I actually initially had the idea about eight years ago when email newsletters began to pop up in political coverage and other industries). I am a producer, and in 2014, had produced the first-ever app-enabled theatrical production: Blank! The Musical. At the beginning of 2015, I decided to focus on a non-show theater-related tech project, and decided on the Briefing. I sent it to just myself for a week for practice, and then to a few friends and colleagues, and from there, it grew to reach hundreds and then thousands of theater industry influencers.

KOH: Which section of the briefing do you think readers are most interested in?

MB: You would think it is the top story, or what we call “Setting The Stage Today,” but, I hear plenty of folks comment on how they love reading the Broadway Birthdays every day, or watching the video at the very end of the email. The bread and butter of the briefing is the “News and Notes” section, which is a daily curated list of the vital news.

KOH: How has including analytics with Briefing Pro changed your readership? What do you hope readers will gain?

MB: We knew there is a hunger out there for more shared data in the theater industry, but even we were surprised by the response to Broadway Briefing Pro -- we met our year one subscription goals on the first day it went on sale! It is our hope that just as the traditional Briefing provides the news you need to start your day on Broadway, and that the data reports that make up the Pro section will become an indispensable resource for theater professionals looking to make smarter decisions in the areas of finance, marketing, production, and beyond.

KOH: Which KPIs and metrics do you consider most valuable when evaluating the success of an email campaign?

MB: Because the Briefing is so different from other Broadway-related email campaigns, the metrics of success are very different. Most theater email campaigns are aimed at fans, and focus on driving ticket sales. The Briefing isn’t an advertising blast, but a newsletter that industry members actually want to open every morning, so our open rates are much higher. We also don’t focus on conversion (we’re not selling anything), but conversation. We consider it a badge of success when we hear people throughout the day saying, “Oh yeah, I heard about that in the Briefing this morning.”

KOH: How has Broadway Briefing changed since the first edition? Have you noticed any major changes in your KPIs as your subscriber base has grown?

MB: I’m happy to say it hasn’t actually changed that much. If anything, we try to make subtle adjustments to the design to keep up with the latest best practices in email design, but we really try to stay out of the way of the user experience that our subscribers have come to love and expect as part of their daily routine. Again, the regular KPIs don’t really apply here, but the new subscription rate continues to increase as word of mouth continues to spread.

KOH: What can Broadway Briefing teach arts managers working for institutions, particularly those looking to increase their digital presence?

MB: It is an old lesson, but a good one: content is king. There is a time for a hard sell, but the Briefing is a great example of how, if you publish great content day after day, the audience and engagement will follow. Also, I think there is a lesson about quality over quantity, both in audience, and in channels. We don’t go after the biggest number of users, we go for the best influencers in the industry. Also, we are only on email and we have no social channels. So, if there are arts managers out there who are strapped for resources or time, I would say, don’t be satisfied with an inconsistent or mediocre presence on every channel out there -- just do one or two really well.

KOH: What would you consider to be the biggest difference between traditional print marketing and digital? Do you imagine this will change much in the future?

MB: Digital marketing gives you a lot of exciting opportunities to take risks that you wouldn’t be able to in print, because the costs to create are usually much lower. You can also personalize content in ways that you typically can’t in print. My question for the future is: At what point does marketing and information really become so personalized that we all really do begin to live in our own individual worlds of different facts?



Matt Britten is a theatrical entrepreneur, writer, and producer. Among other theatrical projects, he created ODYSSEY, an epic musical retelling of the classic myth. Matt previously served as Creative Director for the theatrical non-profit New York Musical Festival, where he conceived and executed the acclaimed “Musicals Live Here” campaign featuring Broadway talent in iconic roles. He has also served on the Board of Directors for The Uprising, a New York City non-profit empowering underserved teens. Matt has worked for The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment, The Weinstein Company, and was educated at Syracuse University, Shakespeare’s Globe, and programs with screenwriting legend Aaron Sorkin and powerhouse producer Arielle Tepper, both fellow Syracuse University alums. Matt has lived and worked in Detroit, Los Angeles, and London, and currently resides in New York City.