Kuke, a classical music platform from China, raises $50m in US IPO

Classical music licensing company Kuke Music Holding Limited has become the latest Chinese music firm to float on the New York Stock Exchange.

Kuke started trading on the NYSE on Tuesday (January 12) under the ticker KUKE, raising $50 million, having priced its initial public offering of 5 million American Depositary Shares (ADS) at a price of $10 each.

The closing of the offering is expected to occur today (January 14), subject to the “satisfaction of customary closing conditions”.

Kuke Music is a provider of classical music licensing, a subscription music service, education services and music instruments in China.

The company was founded by He Yu, who has served as Kuke’s Chief Executive Officer since its inception in 2002, as well as Chairman of the Board since January 2018.

As of December 31, 2019, Kuke claims to have had the largest library of classical music content in the Chinese market.

According to an Form-F1 filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week, citing research firm Frost & Sullivan, Kuke was “the second largest online classical music subscription service provider in China in 2019 in terms of revenue generated from paid subscription”.

“Through our licensing and subscription services, we have brought high-quality classical music into more people’s lives, enabling them to enjoy classical music in a more convenient, enriching and affordable way.”

Kuke Music

The company’s subscription service offers high-quality online and offline streaming access to its content library and its platform can be accessed online, or via Kuke Music app or its smart music devices.

In the filing, Kuke reveals that its music service that had 743 institutional subscribers as of September 30, 2020, including 444 universities and music conservatories and 299 public libraries across China.

Kuke also explains that “substantially all” of its subscription revenue is derived from institutional subscribers.

“We typically enter into one-year subscription agreements with institutional subscribers,” reads the filing. “Institutional subscriptions are set to allow a certain number of users to be logged in at the same time, and there is no limit to the number of simultaneous users an institutional subscriber may purchase.”

Institutional subscription fees in 2019 ranged from 7,000 yuan (approximately $1,100) to 40,000 yuan ($6,284) per year.

Kuke also offers monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual subscription plans for individual subscribers priced at 30 yuan ($4.7) per month.

The filing adds that Kuke licenses its music content “primarily to online music entertainment platforms, such as Tencent Music Entertainment Group, digital music service providers, such as NetEase Cloud Music, as well as film and TV production companies, airlines and smart hardware companies”.

As of September 30, 2020, Kuke reports to have licensed around 800,000 tracks from over 200 labels to its licensees.

In addition to its subscription music service, Kuke also sells smart music education solutions, which primarily consist of its proprietary Kuke smart pianos, Kuke smart teaching systems and “Kukey” courses.

The company is also the organizer of several live classical musical events in China, including the Beijing Music Festival.

Adds the filing: “Through our licensing and subscription services, we have brought high-quality classical music into more people’s lives, enabling them to enjoy classical music in a more convenient, enriching and affordable way. However, our passion for classical music does not stop there.

“To us, a more fundamental way to amplify the impact of classical music is through music education. Towards that end and in an effort to address the underserved needs in China’s music education market, we launched our smart music education business in October 2015, offering students and schools innovative and efficient smart music education solutions.

“Compared to traditional music education, we believe that our standardized course offerings and data analytics capability effectively reduce reliance on music teachers, ensure consistent teaching quality, broaden the accessibility of high-quality music education and enhance the scalability of our business model.”

The company reports to have granted the underwriters an option, exercisable within 30 days from the date of the final prospectus, to purchase up to an aggregate of 750,000 additional ADSs at $10 per share.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., US Tiger Securities, Inc, and AMTD Global Markets Limited are acting as representatives of underwriters for the proposed offering.

China Securities (International) Corporate Finance Company Limited and Valuable Capital Limited are acting as underwriters.

Kuke’s IPO comes just over two years after China-based Tencent Music Entertainment Group, home to three of the country’s leading music streaming services; QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo, started trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TME.

TME’s IPO raised around $1.1bn, having offered 82,000,000 shares at $13.Music Business Worldwide

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