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With Help From Stars Like Gusttavo Lima, Promoters In Brazil Create Gig-Driven Investment Funds

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RIO DE JANEIRO — In 2020, the pandemic knocked down Brazil’s show business, causing the number of music-related events to plummet by 80% to about 15,000, from over 83,000 in 2019, according to Brazil’s office for collection and distribution of music copyrights (ECAD).  

While many artists pivoted to livestreams during the shutdown, Bete Dezembro and a group of fellow promoters and artist managers seized the moment to try to remake Brazil’s concert business — betting that once artists returned to the stage, concerts would be in much higher demand. “We had to reinvent ourselves,” Dezembro, owner of Fábrica de Eventos, an events promoter focused on Brazil’s northern music market, tells Billboard

In March of 2021, Dezembro — along with Augusto Castro, Léo Góes, Celso Almeida and Fernando Almeida — launched 4Even, Brazil’s first investment fund designed to turn music shows into a financial asset class. The gig-driven fund generates profit from buying shows from music artists and reselling them to private clients for higher prices.  

The idea was risky. At the time, it was unclear when live concerts would return or even when COVID-19 vaccines would be available in Brazil. “The financial market bought into this idea when it realized that the businesspeople who understand the music sector were the ones taking the risk,” says Dezembro. 

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With 100 million reais ($18.8 million) of their own money, the five partners inaugurated 4Even’s portfolio by acquiring 192 show dates of Gusttavo Lima, a popular sertanejo act — which valued his shows at just under $100,000 apiece. (Sertanejo is Brazil’s version of American country music.) A year and a half later, 4Even is worth around $30.5 million, the fund managers say, with a portfolio of around 800 shows from at least nine Brazilian artists. 

The diverse list includes pagode performer Sorriso Maroto, dance music DJ Vintage Culture and sertanejo duo Jorge & Mateus, 4Even’s most recent acquisition. (4Even only negotiates for shows in Brazil.) 

Dezembro tells Billboard that five other Brazilian artists, who she would not name, are currently negotiating to sell shows to 4Even. 

While the live sector is rebounding, ECAD says the number of music-related events in 2022 through September, at about 40,000, is still less than half of the 2019 full-year level. That hasn’t stopped the 4Even fund from inspiring other investors. In August of 2021, Opus Entretenimento, a concert promotion and artist management company, and brokerage company XP inaugurated a show-driven investment fund they say is worth around $52 million. Seu Jorge, Alexandre Pires, Bruno & Marrone and Vintage Culture are among the artists who have sold shows to the XP OPUS fund.  

Nevertheless, some Brazilian music executives have reservations about the concert funds’ ability to be profitable. 

“I’m afraid that some of these funds may be valuing their assets a bit above their actual market value,” says Marcelo Soares, the CEO of Som Livre, a label owned by Sony Music Entertainment. “Some of them will eventually face financial losses. But I like that investment funds are discovering the music market.”  

Marcos Araújo, CEO of promoter Villa Mix, says high artist fees, which have been rising in Brazil for the biggest artists, could lead fund partners to squeeze consumers by raising ticket prices. “It’s a very difficult model,” says Araújo, who has managed Lima and other big acts like dance-music performer Alok. “The artist takes his money in advance and spends it on a jet, plane, ship, boat. His money runs out and he starts fighting with the fund. Because he wants more money.” 

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Araújo told Billboard in mid-2020 that he was working to create his own gig-driven concert fund. He ultimately stopped trying to land enough investment after souring on the idea as too risky. “I was afraid artists couldn’t fulfill their agreements,” he says. 

Lima was the first to sell shows to 4Even, agreeing after fund partner Castro, who produces shows and manages artists from Central-Western Brazil, persuaded him that the fund could create financial security for artists. “The idea was that when the pandemic restrictions ended, there would be money in their account,” Castro tells Billboard. 

While any 4Even investor can pitch new artists for the fund, acquisitions must be agreed upon by all the partners. Lima, who will soon become one of the fund’s shareholders, informally proposed 4Even invest in Vintage Culture, whose budding international career was making his Brazilian dates scarcer. “As he has started performing abroad more often, he has less availability to perform in Brazil,” says Dezembro. “His future show dates would become more expensive, which would eventually profit the fund.”  

Vintage Culture
Vintage Culture performs live onstage during the second day of Lollapalooza Brazil Music Festival at Interlagos Racetrack on April 06, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

According to João Fiuza, CEO of Brazilian fintech One7, which is responsible for the financial governance of 4Even, Lima is expected to become an official fund investor in November, entitling him to participate in all portfolio decisions. Until now, he has been informally advising on new assets. (Junior Marques, one of the artists who sold shows to 4Even, is managed by Balada Music, Lima’s music management company.) 

The recent wave of investigations into publicly funded music shows in Brazil — officials in 70 cities are suspected of agreeing to pay inflated fees to lure artists — has placed Lima under a negative spotlight, as his name was mentioned in many of the contracts under scrutiny. Dezembro says no Lima show that belongs to the fund has been canceled or devalued in the market since the investigations became public. 

The fund doesn’t resell shows to municipalities, which are the target of the ongoing “CPI do sertanejo” investigations — it sells to private clients, like rodeos, fairs and other events, she says. And all of Lima’s municipal shows were negotiated directly with his company, Balada Music, she says. (Fiuza says Lima’s 4Even-owned shows are selling at a higher price now than before the investigations.) 

Even though the fund resells shows for higher prices than they pay the acts, 4Even has seen a growing number of artists vying to join the portfolio to invest in their careers. The fund can be particularly helpful to emerging artists, who can use money earned from selling shows in advance to record one of their concerts, for example, says Fiuza.  

But most artists are signing with 4Even for the overall career-management opportunity. “If it were all about buying and reselling the shows, the fund wouldn’t be sustainable,” says Dezembro. “The stronger pillar of the fund is being able to place these artists in the biggest events of Brazil, on the best days, and at the most competitive [set times].” 

Additional Reporting by Alexei Barrionuevo 

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