Upsense Media Capital looking at investing in the Australian live sector
Sydney-based media and entertainment fund Upsense Media Capital Pty Ltd is looking at entering the Australian live music sector with strategic partnerships and strategic equity investments in major projects.
This is done through the Upsense Media Capital Fund.
“There’s so much happening in the Australian live sector,” says co-managing general partner Mark Spillane. “It’s very stable, very solid.
“There are a lot of opportunities because a lot of promoters find it difficult to get things off the ground.
“So we’ve certainly got our eyes on working with established promoters and some of the major projects, and with some of the major venues, music management and agencies.
“We’re also interested in strategic partnerships with smaller emerging companies which may have an agency or management company or a record label built in.
“That’s the trend with some of the emerging companies, and we certainly see those as a growth area.”
Upsense Media Capital is a joint venture between Australia’s Unbreakable Group Holdings Pty Ltd and US-based Prolific Media Holdings LLC.
Spillane, CEO of the Unbreakable Group, has been in the Australian music industry for 20 years as a promoter, musician, artist manager, publishing and label owner and ran the live broadcast entertainment for the Indy 500 motor race on the Gold Coast each year.
Prolific Media CEO and co-founder RJ Bucaria, who also serves as a Upsense managing general partner, worked as A&R, talent management, C-level executive and board member in public and private corporations Stateside.
Bucaria points out, “Australia has a tremendous opportunity inside of nearly all the verticals of the entertainment industry, and we worked out there is a real space for us to come in and energise the marketplace and make industry participants themselves feel better, which will benefit all of us.”
The increasing global mindset of local players helps as modern technology is increasingly allowing Australia to contribute to, and benefit from, international events.
Spillane says Upsense Media Capital’s contribution to its Australian partners is two-fold.
“The first component is access to readily available finance. That’s been a major problem in the entertainment sphere across the board – not just the music industry but also any production company in the creative sector.
“It’s always difficult to raise money on a project-to-project basis. What we’re trying to do with the team we got together is about identifying the right projects to work with alongside.
“It makes that process easier and faster than some other vendors promoters have to work with on a day-to-day basis.
“We’re not talking about funding the smaller side of the business. For example, if there’s an Australian leg of a major international tour, we can partner with the promoter and deal with the cashflow quickly and address any issues.
“The second part of the answer is the value add; the knowledge that we add on the team that we bring to the table. To reduce risks in those sort of events. “
Bucaria notes that the Upsense team is made up of “people who’ve been at the top level in various aspects of the entertainment.
“So you’re talking about a situation where you’re sitting down with a team of people who absolutely understand how your business operates, and construct solutions that are actually central to any problems, rather than a very successful fund manager who can construct a deal that makes pure sense on paper but not necessarily in the actual application in the field.”
The company’s two other major general partners are Prolific Media Holdings founder Jack Carton (ex- RCA/Ariola, VP of finance, administration and production at Sony Music Entertainment and CFO North America of Eagle Rock Entertainment); and Kristie Spillane, co-founder of Unbreakable, who spent a decade in business, marketing, and media.
The investment committee includes Mark Witten, CIO Global Merces Funds Management; Peter Bush, CEO of M and B Stang and CFO of Aeris Environmental Ltd; and film and TV writer/producer Kevin Greene (Gladiator, 12 Monkeys, Survivor).
Upsense Media’s portfolio also includes movies, facilities, television, games and technology.
While it’s currently on a year-long $225 million capital raise, in early August Upsense Media’s closed an $80 million capital commitment deal in an agreement with US-based fully-integrated media service company Global Pictures Media.
Global Pictures Media provided this capital in partnership with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world, managing $6.5 billion in client investments.
Bucaria says there are a couple of companies that they are “90% down the road in the Australian market.”
According to the PWC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018–2022, the Australian live music sector will grow from a value of $677 million to $775 million in 2022.
Box office cinema spend in Australia will be $1.39 billion with 96 million admissions.
Live Performance Australia, reported $1.43 billion of total ticket sales revenue was generated from the live performance sector in Australia in 2016.