7 Predictions For When Broadway Comes Back. Part I

I spend a good 25% of my day thinking about what we’re going to look like on the other side of this thing.

It’s not the healthiest activity to engage in. Things change so fast, it’s hard to know where we’ll be tomorrow, never mind next March (fingers crossed).

But I do it anyway. And I know you do too.

So I thought I’d share three predictions that I see coming as a result of the Broadway shutdown.

Oh, and big ol’ disclaimer . . . every time I make a prediction, by the time I finish making it, something changes.  So I promise to have another set of these suckers in a few months.  Make sure you get ’em by signing up here.)

Here are my predictions as of today:

1. More shows will come in cold.

We’ll have a lot fewer out-of-town tryouts in the coming years, especially in the short term. In fact, I’ve heard rumors about a few new shows that have already committed to coming straight in.

Why? Won’t we still need the creative R&D?

Yes! But the current, previous out-of-town model will be too expensive in the new Broadway economy (see Prediction #2).

And, the out-of-town tryout will also be too . . . well . . . out-of town! Even with a vaccine, trust in travel isn’t going to appear overnight. I expect artists will prefer to keep their circles smaller and stay-at-home, if they can.

Which brings me to . . .

 

2. Everything will cost less . . . because it will have to.

Costs have risen like a rocket over the past several DECADES.

It was hard to keep a lid on ’em, to be honest, since the mega-hits were earning so much mega-profit.

Vendors, unions, and everyone who makes a living on Broadway set their rates based on the best possible scenario, not average scenarios. So, as long as one out of five shows continue to recoup, it’s hard to make the argument that expenses are out of whack. (We’ve had a 20% success rate since we started keeping track!) 

But that potential has changed. Tourists account for 65% of our audience, and right now many can’t come to the city without quarantining for 14 days! Unemployment is 50% higher than it was in 2008. And our audience has said they’re not sure when they are going to come back.

Does that mean we do nothing? NO. We need to produce shows. We need theaters lit. The ONLY way we get back to where we were before and beyond is to raise the curtains. When our audience hears the roar of the crowd and smells the greasepaint, they will run back.

But how do we do that if the risk is HIGHER than it was pre-Covid? You stimulate the production by decreasing the costs . . . across every budget line.

 

3. Broadway Investors will get better returns.

And hey, hey, Broadway Producers (this guy included), don’t think you can ask everyone else to cut expenses and not cut your potential as well

Because here are two truths . . .

First, you know what is going to be hard to do in the next year? Get people to invest in Broadway.

You know what helps stimulate investing in Broadway . . . or in anything? Giving Broadway investors better returns.

We’re asking for the people we “deal” with to change their models . . . we’re going to have to change ours.

 

Phew . . . this is a lot to digest. My anxiety level just spiked and I have three predictions to go!

I’m going to go drown that anxiety in a big, sugary coffee from Starbucks. I’ll tell you the other three things (including the BIG ONE) in tomorrow’s blog.

Don’t want to wait? I already wrote the other four predictions. If you want them now or are afraid you’ll miss them tomorrow, then fill in the form below.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you! Anxiety ahead!

“Give me the rest of them now, Ken!”

 

FILL IN FORM BELOW:






LAST CALL for our Broadway Investing Seminars.

Note to self . . . when you don’t do things for a long time that were very popular, and then do them later on, they tend to be popular again.

This happens to be the theory of why certain Broadway shows are revived.

And this also seems to be why we’ve had so many folks register for our two upcoming seminars about the ins and outs of Broadway Investing.

As I wrote here, I used to do these seminars twice a year for people who were interested in learning more about Broadway Investing, and for those folks who were looking to raise money and wanted to know how Broadway investing worked so they could explain it to their investors.

They were always popular.

I stopped doing them for a while, focused on publishing this book on Broadway Investing (the only book on Broadway Investing, I’m proud to say) . . . but the seminars are back, baby!

And based on the signups we had when I first announced it, both upcoming sessions are going to sell out, so I wanted to give you a LAST CALL before the seats are gone.

Here are the dates:

Tuesday, March 10th at 7 PM (extremely limited availability)

Monday, April 6th at 7 PM (limited availability)

Click here to sign up now and join other theater fans like you interested in learning more about . . .

  • How profits are split for Broadway Investors (including how Producers are paid)
  • Finding projects to invest in (including my strategy for picking a winner)
  • What besides profits you can hope to get from investing in a Broadway show (yes, we’re talking perks!)
  • Tax implications of Broadway Investing
  • And more . . .

Oh, and everyone who comes will get a free copy of the book, Broadway Investing 101.

I expect March 10th to sell out in the next 48 hours (and I’m keeping these seminars intimate to make sure I can answer everyone’s questions), so sign up now.

Last call everyone!

www.BroadwayInvestingSeminar.com

Putting The Fund in Funding on Broadway

I never believed in them.  For Broadway anyway.

Sure, investment funds were fine when you were buying a basket of boring stocks to prepare for your retirement, but for Broadway?  For any kind of art where so much emotion is involved?  One of the key criteria I recommend in this book before anyone invests in a Broadway show is to make sure you love the show.  I never thought investors would take to getting in a bunch of shows at once, especially if that fund was blind.

In fact, after I crowdfunded Godspell, a whole bunch of my micro-investors (customers, in this case) suggested that I start a fund.  “Nah,” I said.  “People want to know what posters they are going to hang on their wall.  They won’t want to do this.”

Idiot me was telling my own investor/customers what they would do and wouldn’t do.  (That’s like Ben & Jerry’s saying, “No, you won’t like that flavor,” after some of their most passionate cone buyers tell them they would.)

Flash forward five years later, and one of my most trusted mentors/Broadway investors suggested it again, AND said she’d start it off with a check.

This time, I listened.

I called the same terrific lawyer who helped me through Godspell, and I popped open a trial “starter” fund to give it a whirl.  (Sometimes you may have to beat me over the head with an idea to get it to take root, but, once it does, I get that seed to sprout pretty damn fast.)

In this case, the fund was for “Front Money” only – the earliest investment dollars a Broadway Producer needs, which historically has been the hardest money to raise on Broadway.

And, yet, this Front Money Fund was the easiest money I had ever raised.  And it’s also the reason I have four new musicals debuting in the next 18 months (more about that later).  Because when you give an Artrepreneur capital, they’ll make stuff with it!

When I asked why they liked the fund concept, my investors, of course, talked about the diversification.  If 1 out of 5 shows was the average rate of recoupment on Broadway then this was an easier way to play the numbers and reduce the risk.  They also talked about some of the other perks, like watching the shows develop and having additional rights to invest.  But, they also said it just made it easy to get involved with many shows at once, since they would have probably invested in them at some point anyway (these were my most trusted and loyal folks, after all, who always get first access to my stuff.)

At the same time I had my success, I noticed, other funds of all kinds starting to pop up on the market from blind funds, to rolling funds and, even, a fund just for projects led by women.

As Broadway has gotten hotter, and more and more people look to get involved, I’m predicting more and more funds will pop up.  And why not?  After all, they should mitigate risk AND make things easier.  (Most of the funds that have popped up are too early in their life cycle to have heard any real results – so I’ll have to update this blog in a few years.)

While I do believe “blind funds” will always have a greater challenge in raising monies than those funds where you know the shows you are investing in (most traditional mutual funds aren’t blind, after all), the truth is the success of any fund will depend on the same thing that those traditional funds depend on . . . who is running it.

What do you think about Broadway Investment funds?  Fad or a fantastic alternative?

– – – – –

Looking to learn more about Broadway Investing, including how funds work, and whether they’re for you?  Click here to register for my only Broadway Investing Seminar, coming up on March 10th and April 6th!

Can’t make those dates and still want to learn more . . . maybe because you’re looking to invest in your first Broadway show, or maybe because you want to learn the investing process because you need to raise money for your show?  Read Broadway Investing 101, the best seller now available on Amazon.com!

 

Something I haven’t done in awhile.

For those of you new to the blog, one of the first things I did on Broadway that got some national (and even international) attention was my crowd-funded Godspell

One of the reasons I chose that massive legal and logistical undertaking was because, well, Stephen Schwartz told me that Godspell was about a community of people coming together . . . so I wanted to bring together the largest community of Broadway Investors ever (I’m a big fan of marrying your marketing message with your artistic message).

And the other reason I did it was because I had this theory.  See, I believed there were thousands and thousands of people out there who were interested in investing in Broadway shows, but . . .

1) They didn’t know who to talk to about it.

and . . .

2) They didn’t know how it worked!

The response to the Godspell offering was overwhelming, to say the least, and it proved my theory correct.  Investing in Broadway shows has, in the past, been for a very select group of folks, and often we kept more people out than we invited in.  And even when new folks got into the ‘club’ they often didn’t know what was happening after they wrote the check!

Since then, Broadway has gone through one of the biggest booms in its history and interest in Broadway Investing has skyrocketed.  Because when any industry posts numbers in the billions as we have, people come from all over hoping to find “the next Hamilton.”

And whenever you rush into anything, you can often make mistakes.

That’s what led me to develop a workshop on Broadway Investing several years ago, and eventually publish this book, Broadway Investing 101, a best seller on Amazon.com and the only book on Broadway Investing on the market.

But books are no substitute for the live, in-person, experience, right?  (We all love the theater, don’t we?)

That’s why, we’re reviving the Broadway Investing Workshop!  And we’ve got TWO dates coming up . . .

Tuesday, March 10th at 7 PM

Monday, April 6th at 7 PM

In this Broadway Investing workshop, you’ll learn

  • The myths of Broadway investing, and how exactly the money flows
  • Who to talk to and where to find Broadway investment opportunities
  • How to decide if an investment opportunity is right for you
  • Simple strategies to mitigate your risk and increase your chances of profitability
  • How to maximize the perks of Broadway investing

If you are interested in learning more about Broadway Investing, whether you’re thinking about investing yourself or if you’re just curious about how shows like Hamilton are funded, click here to join us for either date.

The seminar is $99 and we’re keeping the group small to make sure I can answer all your questions.

Oh, and everyone who comes will get a free copy of my book.

So grab your seat now.

 

(Interested in learning about Broadway investing, but can’t attend the live seminar on March 10th or April 6th? Click here to get your copy of my book “Broadway Investing 101: How to Make Theater and Yes, Even Make Money” on Amazon.)

What is the recoupment rate of REVIVALS in the last ten years? Part III

When I first started producing shows and had to talk to potential investors, I put musicals into two different metaphorical buckets to make the risk levels easier to understand.

I described the two categories of musicals (original and revival) like this:

New musicals were like stocks.  More risk, but a potential for a greater return.

Revivals of musicals were like bonds.  Less risk, but the upside was limited (lack of subsidiary rights participation, shorter runs, etc.)

Since then, I’ve produced new musicals and three revivals (Godspell, Spring Awakening and Once on This Island).

My experience with these shows as well as watching what has happened with the other revivals over the past few seasons has given me that reach-for-the-Tums uneasy feeling.

So, for this third blog in our three-part Recoupment Study (See Part I and Part II here), I decided to dig into the recoupment rate of Broadway musical revivals over the last ten years.

Here’s what I found out.

In the past ten seasons on Broadway, the recoupment rate for Broadway musicals is . . . drumroll please . . . 18.52%.

Did you pop a Tums yet?  Cuz I just downed four.

See, we know that the average recoupment rate on Broadway is 20% . . . and sure, sure, this revival recoupment rate isn’t that much under 20%, but it is under!  And we’re talking about revivals!  The “bonds” of Broadway!  A revival has brand awareness!  It also has a limited upside!  So it should be less risky.  But, in the past several years it has been more difficult to get your money back on a revival than a new musical.

Argh.

I wasn’t satisfied with just this info, so I decided to dig into this subject a little shallower . . . meaning I examined the data over the last 5 years to see if I could see a trend from the 10-year span to the five-year span.  What did I discover?

In the past five seasons on Broadway, the recoupment rate for Broadway musical revivals is . . . drumroll please . . . 16.67%.

That’s right.  It’s getting HARDER for revivals of musicals to get their money back on Broadway . . . despite their limited upside.

What does this mean?

It doesn’t mean that we should stop producing or investing in revivals.  But if we are going to produce a revival or invest in one, it does mean that we need to structure our deals with the Authors, Stars, Vendors, etc. differently, because the safety of a pre-existing theatrical brand isn’t enough anymore.  Based on this data, Producers and investors are going to need more of a reason to jump into a revival, or they will only focus on new shows . . . and leave the revivals to the Non-Profits.

Or maybe, as Little Shop and Fiddler have proven, the way to produce a revival today is to do it Off Broadway and not on.

But we need to do something, because while I am so proud of the three revivals I produced, one of which got me a Tony Award, the numbers have spoken and they are saying to this Broadway Producer, “Don’t produce another one.”

It’s hard not to listen to numbers.

– – – – –

Want to learn more about investing in Broadway, including how it works and tips on how to pick a “winner”?  Read the only book ever written on the subject.  Click here.

 

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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