Richard Rodgers Theatre

Hamilton, the musical breaking all records

Hamilton, the musical breaking all records

On July 3rd, the Disney + streaming platform launched the program Hamilton to all its subscribers. Unprecedented, the entertainment channel then integrated for the first time in its offer a live show capture (a Broadway musical) after acquiring the rights for $75 million.

How did a musical based on the life of one of the founding fathers of the United States achieve such a feat after generating nearly a billion dollars in box office sales in five years? By combining in a rather spectacular way the story of the show and an innovative marketing strategy strongly influenced by storytelling and inclusion.

Richard Rodgers Theatre
Hamilton, musical, at the Richard Rodgers Theater

How did it come to life ?

The history of Hamilton began in 2009 with a performance by Lin-Manuel Miranda, its creator, at an event at the White House. He then rapped what will become the very first version of the introductory song of the musical in the presence of Michelle and Barack Obama... themselves. A first title that already says a lot about the spirit of the musical that will be born a few years later: the text is historically accurate, funny, and with a musical genre that we have not yet heard much in musicals: hip-hop.

Posted by the White House, the video became viral: parodied and shared even in history classes, it reaches a young audience. In the following year, Lin-Manuel Miranda created other songs until he produced an album that has been a success. When the show was launched in 2015 on Broadway, first at the Public Theater and then at the Richard Rodgers Theater, its notoriety was already immense. 57 million dollars in pre-sales sold in a snap, an all-time record for pre-sales on Broadway at this time. You have to be Celine Dion to do better!

A historical musical tinged with rap and hip-hop...

Well, for starters, the first force of the show is its historical accuracy. Despite a theme we wouldn't have bet on that it would attract crowds of teenagers, it's a success right away. It puts the spotlight on a little-known and yet fascinating American destiny. Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, a character brilliant, passionate, funny and resilient. All this with such historical acuity that Barack Obama does not hesitate to recommend the show to schoolchildren!

Another strength: while retaining the inimitable Broadway touch, the show also borrows a lot from rap and hip-hop. Musical styles that resonate with young people. It seems obvious now, noone thought about it before!

...Who takes up the challenge of diversity brilliantly

Even better: Miranda invites on stage an exemplary casting in terms of diversity. He fully assumes casting actors of African-American, Latin or Asian origin to interpret historical characters of European origin. The casting is acclaimed by the critics at a time when the Oscar Academy is beginning to be challenged for its lack of representativeness. In addition to this good press, this choice will also contribute to the success of the event by creating curiosity and inclusion among the public.

The beginning of a marketing success story that will make history.

Hamilton's story began in 2009 at the White House. By the time the show hits the Broadway stage in 2015, the show's notoriety is already immense. At this stage, pre-sales are already reaching historical records (57 million). But this is just the beginning: a well-thought-out marketing strategy will help to support the event for several years and make it the UFO we are analysing today: the first live show to have sold its recording rights to Disney for $75 million.

The challenge of being sold out

With ticket sales skyrocketing as soon as the show goes on sale, it is difficult from the outset to find tickets to see the show. Easy to live with in the present but more difficult to make it last over the long term, a show that is sold out from the start carries with it a major marketing challenge: "How to overcome the advertising effect to transform the success of the beginning into a long-lasting phenomenon ?”


Quite quickly, Hamilton's production introduces the idea of a lottery whose goal is not just to win seats. This lottery goes one step further by offering tickets at a very accessible price ($10) to fans whose budget is tighter than the classic Broadway audience. Indeed, it should be noted that the tickets' prices are skyrocketing to exorbitant levels... From $130 to $550 each, with some tickets sold in the secondary market at prices as high as $2,000.

hamilton for hamilton
Hamilton, musical, at the Richard Rodgers Theater

The height of inventiveness, this operation is branded #Ham4Ham...literally "A Hamilton for Hamilton," in reference to the $10 bill bearing the effigy of Alexander Hamilton. Although the chances of winning these low-cost, last-minute tickets are, in fact, quite slim, the initiative further enhances media coverage and positive word-of-mouth around the event. This even though not getting tickets for an event can also be a major source of frustration for fans!

In addition, the production company is partnering with the Rockefeller Foundation to distribute nearly 100,000 tickets to socially disadvantaged families.

Staged on social media

Unsurprisingly, given that social media have contributed to its success, using them to promote the lottery was natural. The #Ham4Ham daily lottery is shared on social media with the community. Moments in which the comedians do not hesitate to mingle with the crowd.

Beyond the staging of the #Ham4Ham lotteries, the cast use particularly well social media on which they not only promote the show but are also interacting with the community.   Numerous examples can be seen on their Instagram account (1.7 million fans, more than Cirque du Soleil and the Metropolitan Opera combined) or their YouTube page.

One application  was even created to reinforce the "Hamilton" experience with augmented reality content, a karaoke module, educational content and links to merchandising products offered around the show.

Not surprisingly, Hamilton's cast was particularly active during the Spring 2020 lockdown. True to its values of proximity and inclusion. For example, the actors performed live from home on Zoom, on the occasion of the birthday of one of their fans (more than 4 million views, not bad for a birthday video!).

A world tour that has only just begun

Beyond a well-thought-out promotional strategy, it was definitely Hamilton's rhythm that took us into a hectic artistic moment discovering the political foundations of the United States. And it is particularly when you discover such shows, capable of moving crowds of enthusiastic spectators, that you know that live performance will never die!

Hamilton, for his part, is far from having said his last word. The show's world tour is planned as soon as the health situation enables it (tickets are on sale from  mid-May in London). And if you don't feel like waiting for the show to come near you (it could indeed take a little time), you can discover now the recording of the show on Disney +.

Hamilton Facts and Figures

  • 75 million dollars of rights paid by Disney+ to broadcast the recording on its platform.
  • 633 million in revenues and 2.5 million viewers for the New York production.
  • 11 Tony Awards
  • 1 Pulitzer Prize (best drama on stage)
  • and 1 quote from Michelle Obama : “It's the best work of art I've ever seen in my life in any form...”.

Sources :

  • "5 ways Hamilton is winning the marketing game," Campaign US live, 

  • "Why Hamilton became a success" Better Marketing,

Apolline Locquet

Apolline Locquet

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Solène Jimenez

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