Broadway investing was typically out of reach for most people, and ease of restrictions allowed producers to open up a certain amount of their capital raise to people of different and additional income levels. The JOBS Act has helped to allow investments from people who may not be "accredited investors".
With the cost of most place between two to $4 million and musicals between eight to $12 million, crowd sourcing a Broadway musical could still have significant benefits.
Previous Crowdfunding in Broadway
Over the past few years, with the allowance through changes to SEC regulations, we seen an increase in crowdsourcing or crowdfunding of Broadway shows.
Broadway shows need money in order to put on the musical or play. The shows maybe financed by a theater directly, through a producing company, or through producer or multiple producers.
There are various ways a show can raise capital or money. Traditionally, a team of producers or coproducers will pitch the show to their known accredited investors and will offer shares or units in the show. More recently, with the increased use and reach of the Internet, we are seeing crowdfunding or crowdsourcing opportunities arise in various types of investments.
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is where multiple people help fund a business or production. Websites like indigogo.com, seedinvest.com, and kickstarter.com allow the public to give or invest money in various opportunities. These opportunities may allow users to give any amount of money depending on the project.
Crowdfunding the making of a cast recording may offer non-equity opportunities, like the person giving money may get a free CD before the public get it in exchange for some money to help fund the recording. Some theater crowd funding may give a user free tickets, signed playbills, or other perks in exchange for helping to fund the early stage of a production.
Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing rules where a business or venture seeks to give away equity in exchange for money may have additional federal and state regulations come in to play. This is because offering a share of a company, including a Broadway show, in exchange for shares may be deemed to be securities as defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States.
There have been several regulations as well as exceptions with advantages passed with regard to Broadway shows raising investment capital. These advantages have helped to ease some restrictions to make it easier to fund Broadway shows and bring more theater and arts to the public.
One common regulation pertains to Broadway investing deals with regard to who may invest in a Broadway show. Typically, only accredited investors may invest in a Broadway show production. This is usually someone with a high income level where they earned at least $200,000 per year for the past two years and are expected to continue earning at least that much, or someone with a net worth of at least $1 million.
Godspell - The revival of Godspell helped bring attention to the business of Broadway in allowed investors to invest very small amounts and still be part of the Broadway experience. It also brought new accredited investors into the field of Broadway investing which has the potential to increase funding of even more Broadway musicals and plays. While the typical buy in for a share of a Broadway show is around $25,000, Godspell allowed investors to buy in for as little as $1000 and allowed smaller investors to experience some of the perks of Broadway investing.
On The Town - On The Town tried its own form of crowd funding, but limited it to accredited investors. They opened a portion of the capital raise to new accredited investors with an interest in Broadway investing. One of the goals of investing with Howard Kagan, head of Maxalov Productions, and producer of On The Town, Great Comet of 1812, and Pippin, seemed to be to bring more accredited investors to Broadway, again to help fund more arts and theater.
Benefits of Crowdfunding a Broadway Show
Crowdsourcing a Broadway show may be limited, but may come with some advantages.
Increased Advertising and Marketing - By making the investment in a brand new musical publicly available, whether in small amounts like we saw in Godspell or only for accredited investors like we saw with On The Town, the increased marketing and branding of the show could help with increased tickets. It could also increase the number of investors involved who will hopefully be out and around promoting the show that they’re involved with.
Reducing the Risk - The more investors there are any production, the less risk the producers may have because they don’t have to put out as much of their own money. Of course in exchange for doing so, it may reduce the amount of equity that the producer has in the particular venture.
More Investors for Future Shows - When a producer of opens up opportunities for new investors in a particular production, these investors could also be investors in future productions. Broadway is often a relationship business. Investors who had a good experience in a Broadway production or see the value in Broadway investing may be more inclined to invest in future productions. Crowdsourcing may also increase the awareness of opportunities in Broadway investing and bring more potential investors to the producer.
Crowdfunding a Broadway Show May Just Work
When crowdfunding or crowdsourcing a Broadway musical, it is important not to just look at the small opportunity of that particular show. You should also consider what the goal of the producer is in crowdfunding the musical or play. Just because a show does not recoup it’s investment does not mean that it was not successful.
The producer may have build relationships with new investors, investors may have had good networking opportunity to meet other investors or producers with future opportunities, and more people may have become aware of the particular show.
Some shows may not realize their success for years to come. A show may not do well on Broadway, but could have more value in national tours, high school productions, or other licensing opportunities. Sometime shows just may not be ready because of the culture in which the show is produced. Think about some of the shows that opened just before September 11, 2001. There was a decrease in tourism and those seeing Broadway shows. The substance of the show may have also been untimely. However, over time as culture changes, so do opportunities to revive old shows.
Crowdfunding or crowdsourcing a Broadway musical or show may help to bring in more investors to the Broadway community who may not have otherwise known of the many investment opportunities there are.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Turchin is an attorney, entrepreneur, producer and owner of InvestingBroadway.com.