Do you want to become a Broadway producer but don’t have $25,000 to gamble with?
Standing Room Capital, a private online membership platform allowing individuals to invest as little as $2,500 in theatrical productions, has officially launched in partnership with SEC-registered broker-dealer WealthForge. Standing Room is run independently of any producer, allowing the platform to vet and curate investment offerings, which will include both Broadway and touring productions. The first offering on the site is now live for approved members.
Standing Room was founded by Corey Schwitz and Stephen Santore, who first worked together at SpotCo, a leading advertising agency for Broadway shows, where they’ve managed full-service advertising campaigns as well as ticketing sales and pricing strategy for over 50 shows.
“Investing in theater is risky, and one of our goals is to sufficiently educate our investors of that,” Schwitz says, “If you fully understand the risk and you love Broadway, it can be a fun and engaging process.”
Standing Room, which has already seen more than 500 potential investors sign up, is partnering with Wealthforge, LLC, an SEC-registered broker-dealer that has become a leader in the private securities industry, overseeing more than one billion dollars in private placement offerings.
“Partnering with WealthForge gives our investors the assurance that offerings on our platform are independently vetted, combined with our own evaluation of a show’s producing team and financials,” Schwitz says.
“Our focus has primarily been processing private investments in the real estate, energy, and financial services sectors,” Arthur Weissman, Head of Sales and Marketing at WealthForge said. “When the Standing Room Capital team approached us about working together to use this same model to raise money for theatrical investments, we knew it was the perfect opportunity to work with a strong partner in the entertainment space that shares our commitment to compliance and transparency.
Financial returns are just a part of the incentive for veteran Broadway investors. Many are drawn by exclusive perks including free tickets, party passes, and the opportunity to get firsthand involvement in the performing arts.
The JOBS Act, signed into law in 2012, allows certain offerings to be solicited to the general public, including through online platforms. Currently, investments through Standing Room are only open to accredited investors, defined as individuals who make an annual income of $200,000 or more, $300,000 combined with a spouse, or alternatively have a net worth of over $1 million.
“For someone making $200,000 a year, investing $25,000 – the typical minimum for a musical – is far too much to put at stake.” Santore says. “Letting someone get in on the action for just $2,500 or $5,000 makes a potential loss much easier to bear, while still getting involved in the excitement of launching a musical or play.”
Two of the first offerings on the Standing Room platform will be upcoming shows produced by Joey Parnes Productions, a leading theatrical producer and winner of four Tony Awards in the past three years including the 2014 Best Musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.
“Capitalizing – in both senses of the word – on the opportunities the new law provides is not as easy and obvious as it may seem,” Parnes says. “Corey and Stephen have really done their homework and have created a smart and reliable platform for new investors who love the theater. It also doesn’t hurt that I trust them implicitly.”
Heightened interest in theatrical investments is no surprise, as the Broadway League recently reported a record-breaking 2014-15 season for Broadway, with over $1.3 billion in gross sales and more than 13.1 million audience members.
“We believe there’s an enormous group of potential investors who are eager to get involved,” Santore says, “and we’re excited to welcome them into the Broadway community.”