Seven Ages is a company that brings in foreign musical theater shows and provides performance services in China. Today, Seven Ages has announced its completion of series B+ finance led by Alibaba Entertainment’s Damai.com, followed by Legend Capital. Seven Ages has already completed the angel round finance from China Growth Capital in 2013, series A round from China Growth Capital and China Media Capital in 2014, and series B round from Legend Capital in 2016.
Jiamin Yang who is the CEO of Seven Ages claims that after this round of finance, Seven Ages will keep growing and expanding in China by continuing to bring in good musicals, expand the diversity of their business and gradually build up a professional running system for the musical theater industry in China. This round of finance between Damai and Seven Ages also break the record as the single largest transaction in the musical theater market in China.
For Alibaba Entertainment, investing in Seven Ages puts down a good layout for its future business. Through this finance and cooperation, Alibaba will have more experience and connection in the field of theater. Damai will also be the key player in the game of connecting online and offline businesses of Alibaba Entertainment. More live performances will be developed and will eventually include musical shows.
Seven Ages was founded in 2012, aiming to bring in the copyrights of classic foreign musical shows and to produce Chinese versions of these shows. So far Seven Ages has successfully produced 4 classic Broadway shows: Avenue Q, Man of La Mancha, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Sound of Music. There have been nearly 1,000 live performances ran by Seven Ages, attracting around 800,000 audiences in almost 50 cities in China. On the 13th, Seven Ages just finished the opening night of their newly produced show Hello Musical, marking the beginning of a year-long national college tour.
Starting from the end of 2016, more classic musical numbers have been landing in China, catching the attention of many performance companies and investors to dig into the musical market.
However, according to data, the box office of musical shows earned 174 million RMB, taking only 1.45% of the grand profit of the live performance market (a total 12 billion RMB). It’s easy to see that even with a growing number of introduced classic foreign musicals, the capacity of this market is still limited. Most of the companies who made an investment are only trying to take a share of the future market.
Right now the quality of all the Chinese versions of Broadway shows is far behind from the original ones unless it’s the original or touring cast from Broadway. These companies are still figuring out what are some of the better musicals to bring in to attract Chinese audiences. It’s even worse in the original musical theater market. The core problem is the lack of professionals. Without a good playwright, director, actor or composer, the quality of the shows cannot improve.
However, the appearance of great new musicals in Broadway has somehow stimulated the development of the Chinese musical theater market. This market will probably develop and expand into something bigger than ever in 2018. The selection of introduced foreign musicals will be decided more carefully than ever by all the companies and their managers.
To Jiamin Yang, the future of musical theater in China holds at least 10 billion RMB. Right now the musical theater is taking 80% of the market share in the live performance market in Europe and America, over 45 % in Japan and Korea, and only less than 10% in China. There’s still a great potential in this field in China.
As the music and finance market expand in high speed, right now might be the best time to focus on musical theater and take the game point of finance in the musical theater market.
Translated by Paris Wu
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