Saturday, February 15, 2014

Chasing the Audience

Some numbers:

Pageviews on this blog according to blogger : 746,987 (although blogger started recording this in 2007 and I started this blog in 2005.)

Number of viewers who see a TV episode that has my name on it each time it’s on TV: 1-2 million. (And there are 5 or 6 episodes that I wrote, or which have my name on them. I don’t feel a lot of ownership over them but I probably have a joke or two in 20 or 30 episodes. They are syndicated so it’s hard to say how often they’re on TV. They are also on DVDs.)

Number of people who have seen my web series Compulsive Love: Last time I checked, adding up all the platforms, it’s over 500k.

Number of people who saw or read a play of mine last year: 2500, maybe. (Probably less than 20K over the course of my 15 year playwriting career so far.

I guess the question is, is the point the number of people who see something or their level of engagement? The TV show doesn’t really have much to do with who I think I am artistically. I imagine a lot of people who saw my web series forgot about it soon after, although I’d like to think that’s not the case. I know when I have a play up a lot more people send me messages and talk about it. But something like 20k people in Pakistan saw my web series. How else would I ever be able to reach those people if not through the internet? But did it change them or affect them in any way? I don’t know. Is that even my goal as a storyteller anymore? Is it enough if they laughed? Did they laugh? Or did they stumble upon it while looking for porn and shut it off when it was clear there was no nudity? (I am using Pakistan as an example but I am not suggesting Pakistanis are necessarily looking for porn videos)

The point is, except for impassioned reviews and fan emails, most of the time as an artist, I have no idea what the effect is on my audience. People tell me they like the playwright interviews and I know people are coming to the site to read them. That has little to do with me artistically, but I’m proud to provide a platform for people to read about and talk about theater. Theater is important. Isn’t it? I’m rambling. There is a 5 month baby on my lap asleep and I’m trying to figure out what I’m putting out into the world and why. It’s a question I ask myself a lot but I’m talking in circles and maybe have been for years. Never mind how commerce fits into it all. That's a whole bigger conversation.

Look, I just want to make some cool stuff before I die. I want to make some lives just a little better, to make you think or laugh or break your heart. And I guess I’ll keep trying to figure out ways to do that because I seem to be wired to only be happy when I’m making things. End of rant.

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susanopera said...

Most impressive numbers! Congrats. I for one appreciate all that you are doing for your playwriting and the playwriting platform.
I especially am enjoying your comics posts on Twitter, start out my day laughing, what joy!
Susan Weiss

Adam Szymkowicz said...

Thanks, Susan!

Patrick Gabridge said...

This is a terrific post, Adam, because it's asking some very basic questions that we face as writers who can write in multiple media--what's important to us, as artists and creators? I think you really nail it with the notion of the quality of engagement with the audience. And sometimes, when the wide world is trying to understand whether we're successful as writers, they're trying to measure that with dollar signs, or pageviews. And we're not always sure what to consider success, even for our own selves. But you've said it--we want to make cool stuff and connect with people. Our work in theatre allows us to do that in way that can have a deep impact on audiences (sometimes, not always). I'm a bit of a compulsive tracker, but one of the data streams that is most important to me, is keeping track of how many people see my plays every year.

Doll Talk Time said...

Okay finally subscribe to your blog - awesomeness. I think about this all the time. As you know we have a lot of people following us on Instagram but who cares if they're not engaged?? Can you tell we say this a lot? I want to touch people with what I'm doing I want to make them laugh, think and be inspired.