A Proactive Approach to Electronics on Broadway

Volume 118, No. 7July, 2018

Technology continues to evolve and influence the landscape for nearly all facets of the music industry. With the astounding rate of technological change, it is easy to fall behind as new situations and ethical questions arise. Electronics are both powerful creative tools for composers and performers and a potential threat to the livelihood of some musicians. Parameters have to be established that allow for the creative innovation of new technologies while still preserving the musical integrity inherent in live performance that is synonymous with Broadway.

The basic question is this: how do we decide what are appropriate and inappropriate uses of electronic music on Broadway?

The Electronic Music Committee (EMC) was formed as a think tank to collect data and start a meaningful conversation about the usage of electronics on Broadway. The EMC consists of industry professionals representing a wide cross section of the Broadway community, including music directors, orchestrators, synth programmers and instrumentalists. All members are welcome and encouraged to join.

How will the EMC assess the past and current uses of electronic music on Broadway?

The committee is designing a survey, the confidential results of which will provide a comprehensive understanding of the current use of electronics in Broadway musicals. The survey will be sent to music directors, orchestrators, programmers and players who work with electronic devices on all currently running shows. The survey will collect and identify information such as:

  • The number and types of electronic devices used
  • Frequency of usage
  • Reasons for usage
  • Any trends in usage

What will be done with the data collected in this survey?

Once the survey data is collected and compiled, it will be analyzed and used by the EMC to make recommendations to our union. Since this is the first attempt at the collection of this data, the EMC can’t yet say what those recommendations will be. It is hoped that they will address a number of concerns that have been raised both inside and outside of the committee and move towards bringing the electronic music language in the current Broadway contract into the 21st century.

The EMC was formed in response to the general sentiment in the community that we need much more information about current practices. This will allow us to have a more productive conversation both within our union and across the table from our other partners. If we all have a better understanding, we position ourselves collectively to remain in step with the pace of technological advancements, to the benefit of all.

If you have any questions, want to learn more, or wish to participate in the EMC, please feel free to contact EMC Facilitator Chris Reza at or at (212) 470-2369.