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How Korean producers raise money for their shows.

I “broke toast” with a Korean theater producer this morning.

As with most conversations I have with fellow producers, the topic turned to raising money.

We compared strategies, types of investors, and why it’s easier to raise money for one high risk project than several low risk projects in a blind pool (answer: theatrical investing is like investing in art.  Investors want to see what they’re getting.  They want to love it because they think its value will increase, yes, but also because they think it’s beautiful enough to hang in their house.  Blind pools and/or funds don’t give them that tangible opportunity).

Just when I thought what we did was identical, he said to me, “And of course there are the ticketing companies.”

I choked on my rye.

He explained that the ticketing companies in Korea were always willing to throw money in to his ventures, because they knew they could recover some of that investment on the ticketing side, even if the show didn’t work out.  They were always good for it.

I have to admit, for a brief moment between my OJ, I wondered if I could grow to love Kimchi and move to Seoul.

Imagine if all bets were off when you walked into a venue here in NYC and you could cut any deal you wanted.  You got to pick your own ticketing company, your own concessions company, your own Playbill, etc. just like you pick your own costume shop, merch company, etc.  Imagine the leverage you could have and how much easier it would be to fund projects (I also have to believe that the quality of those services would increase because of the increase in competition).

This quid pro quo investing happens here on some level, with merch companies mostly.

I’d expect it more often, especially if risk increases, capitalizations increase, and investment dollars shore up.

And don’t be afraid to use quid pro quo when you can.  As a Producer, remember, you’re building a business that people are going to benefit from. Asking those that benefit most to shoulder some of the show’s risk is more than appropriate.

Just don’t be surprised if they tell you to go eat a plate of Kimchi.

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