Chinese classical licensing service Kuke seeks $50m public investment in USA

Beijing Symphony Orchestra. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Beijing-based Kuke Music Holding, which claims to be the largest classical music service provider in China, has filed an Initial Public Offering (IPO) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The company was founded by Yu He, the grandson of Chinese composer Ding Shande. Yu was inspired by Naxos’ approach to marketing a digital non-pop music service to academic institutions. He signed an exclusive partnership with Naxos and launched the Kuke classical music platform for universities, conservatoires and public libraries. Since September 2006, the company has attracted over 740 such institutional clients.

Kuke now claims licensing deals with over 200 music labels and a client list of airlines, TV production companies, shopping malls, restaurants, online music entertainment platforms and streaming services in China. It has developed its own apps for customers to control playlists and has secured licenses for over 800,000 of its library of 1.7 million tracks of non-pop music.

Around 2013, Kuke began streaming to the consumer market, offering an on-and-offline subscription streaming-cum-social-networking service. The company has acquired rights to extensive live concert, opera and ballet videos, as well. Its turnover for the year ending 30 September 2020 was USD$21 million.

However, Kuke’s filing for listing on the New York Stock Exchange follows two failed attempts to raise capital on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The approach to the NYSE is being underwritten by Deutsche Bank, Tiger Brokers and AMTD and was filed in September 2020.

Kuke plans to use the net IPO proceeds to enhance its music education services and to fund acquisitions and investment opportunities.

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