In this fourth and final part of our video interview with Tony-nominees Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the composers speak about the challenges for young authors to strike the balance between social media activities and self-promotion on the one hand, and actual writing and creative work on the other. We would like to say a big “thank you” to Benj and Justin as well as our friends Simone Linhof and Ralf Schädler from re:present, who kindly arranged this interview opportunity for us. We hope you will enjoy these interesting and inspiring thoughts from Benj and Justin – Pasek & Paul!
Social media activity vs. writing your show
Justin Paul: It is interesting. I think that for us, we have really had to strike a balance between being focussed on the social media stuff and promoting ourselves, and also leaving time to actually grow and learn as artists. I think it is an easy trap to fall into to just go all promotion and just be promoting our music, getting it out there, doing concerts, all this kind of stuff but you never really grow and learn.
Benj Pasek: Some people write particularly for concerts as opposed to writing the show. And that is advise that we got very early on: when we were really persuing writing for posting a song on YouTube, we were not really learning how to write an entire musical. And do I think there is – as Justin was just saying – a really particular balance that you have to strike which is knowing how to activate your social media following, putting up songs and growing that base but also really studying the craft, getting offline when you need to and figuring out how to write a full length musical because ultimately, that is the thing – it is really different to writing an individual song than it is to write a two hour or two and a half hour show and that has been a challenge in itself. So: striking the balance between those two things.
Justin Paul: But I think it is an important thing, especially for younger writers or writers who are still up and coming – people like us: unless you are writing a huge title on Broadway, it is going to be harder to get people to come to your shows, so as writers you have the opportunity to develop a “fan base” – sounds like a weird term, but to find those people out there who are supporters of new writing and new musical theatre: it is great to connect with them and to get them on your side, to get them excited about what you are writing: whether it is selling your sheet music for them or them supporting your concerts or your shows, it is a great way to gain some support, even if you don’t have the advantage of a huge Broadway show or a huge show in Hamburg or wherever it is.
Benj Pasek: Yeah. And maybe the last thing that we can talk about is: for our first show, EDGES, it did not have a production in New York. We put the songs and those people who were following us decided to produce the show in their own home towns. It had never and still, EDGES has never played in New York, but it has been done all around the world, and it is a way that you can connect to people and say: “Here, try out my show and let me hear your music, and it really is an exchange and we have been really lucky beneficiaries of that sort of new exchange.