How to get on a Broadway Producer’s investor list.

One of the reasons I crowdfunded Godspell years ago was because I had this theory.  I believed that there were throngs of people in the world who were interested in investing in Broadway shows, but they just didn’t know how to do it.

Based on the response we got to our initial offering, I’m thrilled to say that my theory proved correct.  I know, I know, when you’re out there raising money for your show, it seems like an investor is like the holy grail . . . a whispered about myth just around the next bend, and you might grow old never finding it.

But they are out there.  Trust me.  I talk to potential new investors all the time.

And interestingly enough, one of the questions I get asked the most by new potential Broadway investors who have taken my seminar is, “How do I get on a Producer’s investor list?”

I swear, it’s true!  Sure, they ask about risk, and how they can make money (it’s possible, I swear), but so many first time investors are already educated enough about the risks and are interested in getting started that they just want to jump in the water.

Maybe that’s you?

If it is, here are the simple steps that I recommend you take in order to get on a Broadway Producer’s investor list.

1.  IT’S ABOUT TASTE

I always recommend that Broadway investors should invest in shows that they love.  As I often say, Broadway shows are like your kids.  They’re expensive, and sometimes they’ll disappoint you.  But because you love them, it doesn’t bother you as much.  In order to find shows you love, you want to invest with a Producer who has similar taste as you.  So, go see shows.  Lots of them.  And when you find one you like, take a look at the title page of the Playbill and check out the names at the tippity top of the list of Producers (The names at the Top are usually the lead Producers, and the ones in the middle/bottom tend to be aggregators or bundlers).  Circle those names.  Then when you get home, point your browser to IBDB.com or PlaybillVault.com, type in that producer’s name and see what other shows he/she has produced.  If you like what you see, you found one.  Put that Producer on your list and proceed to step two.  (Bonus Tip:  Whenever possible, invest with the Lead Producer on a show.  Nothing against aggregators or bundlers – I do it once or twice a year myself, but it is more beneficial to go straight to the top if you can.)

2.  REACH OUT, REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE

Once you’ve got a list of Producers that have similar taste as you, you’ve got to make contact with them.  Ready for this super stealthy tip?  Call ’em.  Sure, you may not get through, so just leave a flattering message with the assistant that goes something like this, “Hi.  I’m a fan of NAME OF PRODUCER’s work.  And I was wondering if you could put me on your list as a possible investor for future shows?  Do you need anything from me in order to get on that list?”  I don’t know of a Broadway Producer in town that would NOT put you on a list getting a message like that.  It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a call back (but more often than not I bet somebody at the Producer’s org calls you back), but you may get invites to readings, etc.  And in addition to calling (yep, this is not an “or” this is an “and” to-do), you should see if you can find an email for the Producer and drop them an e-line.  You should also link up on LinkedIn, friend ’em on Facebook, etc.  And hey – if you know they are producing a show that’s in previews, go see the show.  You may get a handshake and be able to tell them you want on their list in person.

3.  YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE

Most Broadway Producers have an unwritten rule about who gets their first offers for shows.  Usually, a Producer will give anyone who has already invested with them the first look at new projects.  So, if you’re expecting that you’re going to get the lower-risk, big star driven shows on your first time out, think again.  Those shows are rare, so we usually give them to the investors that have been the most loyal, or have taken hits on other shows, so they can recover any losses (investing in Broadway, like the stock market, is about the long term – I encourage my investors to invest like they are playing blackjack – you don’t play one hand and walk away, you play out the shoe.)  What this means, is that if you want to get on the list of certain Producers, if you want to get offered the lower risk shows in the future, then you may need to take bigger risks when you start out.  You don’t get offers for IPOs when you just start investing in the stock market.  So you probably won’t get offered Hugh Jackman shows on your first time at bat either.  But don’t worry, those shows may be lower risk, but they often don’t return as much either.  So don’t wait for the perfect opp that you think guarantees you a return.  Just get started.  And you’ll find the types of shows you are offered may only improve over time.

See that?  Pretty simple, right?  No GPS required.  But finding the right Producer to invest with is super important, just like finding the right financial advisor.  You want someone who understands what you are looking for, someone who gives you the attention you want, and someone you are going to stick with for awhile.  I always tell my investors that I will have a Wicked someday.  I just don’t know exactly when that’s going to happen.  So you’ve got to invest with me for the long term.

Good luck in your search.

 

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Comments
  • Felicia says:

    Ken, I’m sure there are countless producers reading your blog now who are saying, “Here I am! Me, me, you can get on my short list of potential investors!” Well, I’ll start it off. Investors, if you are really serious about looking for a Broadway-bound project, please feel free to come and see a concert version of my new, original musical Fannie Lou, inspired by voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. It takes place in October, and I’d be very happy to have you come and see it. The story is great, the music is fantastic. Come and see if it is something you think you’d like to explore further. There are more details, including cast-member profiles for the October event and information about the subject, Fannie Lou Hamer, at our website, http://www.fannieloumusical.com. You can email me with questions and/or let me know if you’d like to reserve a seat at info@fannieloumusical.com. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Give it a try!

  • Klay Rogers says:

    What and who are aggregators or bundlers? Are they the producers that are merely fund raisers but have no other participation?
    Thanks,
    Klay

  • Sue Cohen says:

    Ken, you forgot to mention where we can get the money to invest! Or, other than for a crowdfunded show, how much do investors need to lay out? Low to average amounts, please.

  • Scott says:

    These days the average to get into a show is $25k
    There may be some smaller pieces near the end of fund raising efforts of $12.5k
    It seems the days of $5-$10k are over.

    As for the “bundlers” they get to sit at the table–usually– but have little to no control, tho their imput is at least heard.

    And, I’m an active investor–but was actually REMOVED from a producer’s list–since, with a limited pot that I have to invest, chose other projects instead. Oh yeah, he’d be someone you’d all know.

  • Doug Hicton says:

    Ken, Ken, Ken… the people you got to crowdfund Godspell weren’t really investors in the true sense of the word, but DONORS. Investors buy a piece of the show in the expectation of a monetary return on their investment if the show makes a profit.

    My policy on Kickstarter and such crowdfunding vehicles, is that they are meant exclusively for groups or individuals who are just starting out and have no other means of raising money, not for people who are already established in the business and have a name they can trade on.

  • Jonah says:

    I am hopeful for more crowdfunding opportunities in the future. You gave some great quotes for the recent NYT article, “Smell of the Greasepaint, the Funds of the Crowd”.

  • George Rady says:

    Yes – I too get a bit annoyed when we “mush” Crowd Funding and Kickstarting… with “Investing” – it’s like when some GOVT official talks about “investing” in this or that… with $$$ confiscated, borrowed or printed up (though most is digitized these QE2 days) when that TOO is conceirced charity…

    I got One Dollar and I “bet” You can get me back Two… or, at least, not piss away my dollar… and most expect $1.12 back…

    I was shocked when I first swa on the last Investor Stats that MOST of the people who invest in Broadway are fellow Broadway Vets… people who are IN the biz… but then – I shouldn’t have been – in that was true in the more rudimentary Financial Markets… aside form doctors, lawyers and sport/celebs… Franchisee Owners invested in Franchisees… Commodity Brokers invested in Commodities… only big diff is Joe Blow simple gave his money to some “expert” who worked for an Investment firm (then was shocked when they lost 1/3 ot 1/2 to 2/3 in 2008 when the Mortgage Ponzie scheme collapsed…)

    And – when You think of it – if you are on the Inside Track – investing in Broadway is a pretty safe bet these days… looking at the Top Ten Shows… running 80% house is deemed doing badly… that’s a LOT of revenue thanks to Location/Location/Location… no wonder it’s so difficult to get Theatre Space! It’s flooded with Tourists willing to shell out $100 a cramped seat foor a Once in Lifetime experience… that is a pretty darn safe “bet”

    That IS something worth Investing IN!

    g

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