What I did this weekend.

Here’s what I did:

I wasn’t at the beach.

I wasn’t at the park.

I was at work all weekend long.

No, no, no . . . don’t start playing a violin for me.  I’m not looking for you to throw me a pity party.

Because it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.

I spent the weekend making calls to some of the hundreds of people that have responded to the PeopleOfGodspell post.

Look, I knew there were people out there that loved theater, but nothing prepared me for some of the conversations I had with the wide variety of people that expressed interest in the offer.

– I spoke to a man who met John-Michael Tebelak a few years before he died, and was so inspired by him and by Godspell that he had gone on to perform in and direct over 20 productions of the show.

– I spoke to a man who was an Arabic language expert in the Air Force and had a masters in theater.

– I spoke to a songwriting couple from Los Angeles who said Stephen Schwartz was their hero.

– I spoke to a Broadway wardrobe supervisor, a Broadway stage manager, another stage manager, a Broadway actor, and more . . . and we talked about how back in the old days, staff members of shows got involved in the business end more often because the economics were so different.

– I spoke to a patent attorney, a trademark attorney, a securities attorney, and a few other attorneys, many of whom called themselves “theater dorks.”

– I spoke to a woman whose dad passed away recently and is looking forward to getting back to seeing shows again soon.

– I spoke to a guy in my home state of Massachusetts who commiserated with me after the Patriots lost to the Jets in the NFL’s Week 2.

So many people from all over the country with one thing in common: a passion for the theater.

Can you think of a better way to spend a weekend?

If I haven’t gotten to you yet, I’m sorry, and I will soon enough.  It’s just hard for me to get off the phone sometimes, despite my assistant screaming at me and threatening to smack me with the long call list.

But I’m getting there.

And having a blast in the process.

The 1st ever Crowd-Funded Broadway musical. And it’s got your name on it. (UPDATED 2019)

Yes, it’s true.  We’re doing it.

But before I go into the details, here’s the backstory.

The world of financing projects of all shapes and sizes has been changing at an alarming rate over the last decade.

Thanks to entrepreneurs like Guillaume Colboc and Benjamin Pommeraud, as well as my bloggin’ hero Seth Godin and his book Tribes, the guys at Kickstarter.org and, of course, the King of Crowd-Funding himself, Barack Obama, a new era in bringing people with a common vision together has been born.

We’ve even talked about it on this blog on several occasions . . . and we’ve even wondered, “Can we apply this to Broadway?”

Well, guess what?  We can.  It just took a few extra lawyers and a few extra hours to figure out a new way of doing things.  (I even had to pass a Series 63 Exam to become a Securities Agent!)

So, it is with great pleasure that I officially announce to all of you first, that my upcoming Broadway revival of Godspell will be the first-ever Crowd-Funded, or as I like to call it, “Community-Funded,” Broadway musical.

To be honest, I’ve had this idea for several years, but I was just waiting for the right show.  And Godspell is the perfect show for this concept.  As Stephen Schwartz said to me, “Godspell is essentially about a community of people coming together.”  It just makes sense to bring together the largest community of Producers ever to mount this historic 40th Anniversary production.

As you know, investing in a Broadway musical is something that is usually only available to a select group of people at very high investment thresholds.

But everywhere I go, I meet people who I know would love the opportunity to invest in a Broadway musical and become Broadway Producers themselves, despite the obvious risks, if they only knew how, and if only the entry point was more affordable.

Godspell is for all those people.

Traditionally, the price of one investing unit in a Broadway show has been as high as $10,000, $25,000 or even $100,000.

One unit in Godspell is only $100.  (FYI, there is a minimum purchase of 10 units per investor)

Now, in the subject of this post I said this show had your name on it.  Here’s how:

Each investor
in Godspell shall receive a limited liability company interest in The Godspell, LLC,
per our Offering Circular as qualified with the Securities and Exchange
Commission of the United States.*

In addition, every single investor, no matter how much he or she invests, will have his or her name listed on a poster outside of our Broadway theater.

Yep, you’re going to get billing.

And every single investor will also have their name listed on a new website created exclusively for this community, PeopleofGodspell.com, as well as his or her photo, hometown, a quote, and links to their Facebook and Twitter profiles. 

What do you think?  Fun, right?

There may even be opportunities for opening night performance and gala tickets, complimentary tickets to previews, invitations to private cast functions and more.

If you’re interested in joining me and the other members of the community in this incredibly unique and historic production, visit www.PeopleOfGodspell.com today or click here.  Please note, this is a limited offer because there is only a finite quantity of units available.  If you are interested, I encourage you to contact me through the link above as soon as possible.  I’ve announced it publicly here on my blog first, so that my readers could have the first opportunity to participate . . . after all, our conversations helped inspire it.

Click here to learn more about joining the community.  And maybe I’ll see you on opening night!

Oh, and yes, every investor gets one of the buttons in this photograph.

Join The People of Godspell today.  It’s the first-ever Community Produced Broadway Musical.

– – – – –

UPDATE:  This offering closed back in 2011.  Want to learn more about Broadway InvestingClick here to get the only book published on the subject, and learn it works, how to pick “winners,” how to avoid “losers,” and how to get started.

What the financial reform bill means to Broadway investors and you.

Most of us don’t pay a lot of attention to what happens in D.C.  Sometimes it feels like Broadway is a magical place, and what happens with governmental financial reform doesn’t affect us.

Well, tucked deep in the recently-signed-into-law, 2300-page Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was a change to the definition of ‘Accredited Investor’ that will have an impact on how Broadway and Off-Broadway producers raise money.

First, some background.

In 1933, in the wake of the Great Depression, congress passed the ‘Securities Act of 1933’ and for the first time offered federal regulation of the sale of securities.  As you can imagine, filing with the federal government can be an onerous and expensive task for many small businesses, start-ups, and Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.  So, to support the entrepreneurial American Spirit, Congress provided for a number of exemptions from federal filing in that 1933 Act. One of the most commonly used by all types of business, including shows, is the Accredited Investor exemption, which allows companies to raise money without filing, by taking money from Accredited Investors only.

What’s an Accredited Investor?

An Accredited Investor is a government-defined term that basically means, “You’ve got enough money to make your own decisions, so we don’t have to look out for you like we look out for the little guys.”  Qualitatively, it means that either you have a net worth of $1,000,000 or you have made $200,000/year for the past two years (or $300,000 when combined with a spouse).  (To see a complete list of the qualifiers, visit the SEC’s site here.)

I’d bet that at least 90% of all Broadway offerings to investors are made to Accredited Investors only.

Well, in the debate over the bill, there was some strong lobbying to change the Net Worth threshold to $2,000,000!  Fortunately, for all of us, that change didn’t make it out of committee.

Instead, the new Consumer Protection Act redefines what counts towards that million-dollar net worth, and has specifically stated that an investor’s home cannot be used in the calculation (which, as I’m sure you can imagine, was a common way for investors to qualify for this status).  The bill has also put more responsibility on the entity to ensure each investor is making a truthful claim about their status when signing those subscription documents.

Will this small change have a big effect on how we raise money for shows?  Too soon to tell, since the bill just went into law.  I’ll give you an update when I’m in the trenches raising money for my next show.

What do I think of this change?  I can’t argue with it, honestly.  I’ve always thought the definition was a bit loose, and while I don’t think any Broadway investors are blind to the risks involved with what we do, we have to remember that this law applies to all of the other businesses out there in the world who may not be as forthright in their risk disclosure as we are (the hedge fund industry comes to mind).

While I can’t complain about it, I do wish there was an easier way for the smaller investor to get into the game.  As we’ve seen by the major moves in the stock market over the last couple years, it’s not like opening an e-trade account means less risk!

For more on the Reform Act, click here.

Try to remember a more Fantastick investment.

Most articles about investing in the theater are all about how bonkers one has to be to put money in a Broadway or Off-Broadway show. Well, imagine my surprizzle when I read this article in the NY Times about the fantastic returns investors in the original Fantasticks have received over the last fifty radish-filled years.

The Times article details how the return of The Fantasticks has beat the S&P 500 over the last half-a-century, and helped one investor “put our three children through college.”

Some of my other favorite points in the article:

  • Smaller shows may make less in dollars than bigger shows, but the percentage return can be greater and the risk is lower.
  • The Fantasticks, one of the most successful shows of all time, had trouble finding investors, and struggled to get off the ground.  Its Producer almost closed the show on several occasions.
  • The original investors did it for love, not expecting great returns, just hoping “to earn our $330 back and get free tickets to a couple of performances.”

As I often tell my investors, goldmines like The Fantasticks are hard to find, but they are out there.  There is another Fantasticks, another Wicked, another August: Osage County being written right now (hopefully by one of you!).  If you learn the ins and outs of the numbers, only invest in what you love, and stay in the game for the long term, you’ll find one sooner or later.  (That’s the same advice famed mutual fund manager, Peter Lynch, would give you for picking stocks, by the way.)

Is investing in Broadway and Off-Broadway shows risky?  Yes.  I’m sure those original fantastic investors did what most producers encourage all their investors to do:  write a check that you don’t expect to see again.  But as I like to say, investing in shows is the riskiest investment you’ll love to make.

Congratulations on the anniversary, Fantasticks.  And thanks for being part of the data that demonstrates why entertainment should be considered its own asset class in everyone’s portfolio.

To read the NY Times article, click here.

Got 2.5 hours to see a reading? No. Got 20 minutes? Who doesn’t?

I’ve written about the difficulties of “selling” a piece in a typical reading scenario before (and that entry is actually one of the most read blogs – see the new list on the left hand side of the blog).  They’re in the middle of the day.  They are under fluorescent lights.  The audience’s iPhones are vibrating a hole through their pockets, etc.

And of course, one of the greatest challenges is that a typical musical reading is easily a three hour commitment for anyone attending.  That’s a good chunk of an audience’s very busy business day.

So what do you do instead?  I’m glad you asked!

I’m advocating the 20 minute lunchtime reading.  Give me a couple tunes, a couple of scenes and maybe a sandwich, and I’ll swing down, decide if the show suits my taste, and be back in time to make sure the paperwork on my desk hasn’t hit the ceiling.

You follow up, and if I liked it (and the odds are better that I will if I’m only seeing 20 minutes), you send a script and a demo, which I can go through on my own time.

Then you present a more complete reading a month later for the really interested parties and for the creatives, so they can get feedback on the flow, the development of the characters, etc.  (I did this for Altar Boyz, and based the concept on the NAMT model, and I got a great producing partner out of the deal.)

To put it a little more clearly . . .

When I walk by Auntie Anne’s Pretzels on 8th Avenue, they’ve always got this nice employee out front offering free samples of a pretzel bite.  I may not have time to go in the store and pick up a full size, but I can certainly do a grab and go . . . even if I’m on my way to lunch!

And in that one bite, Auntie Anne succeeds in whetting my appetite.  And when I do have time, I’ll go far out of my way for an original with salt and a side of cheese.

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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