YG, UMG, Big Hit, Kiswe join hands on streaming platform
Entertainment powerhouses YG Entertainment and Universal Music Group (UMG) will co-invest in VenewLive, a streaming platform for online K-pop concerts, according to boy band BTS’s agency Big Hit Entertainment on Wednesday.
The coalition of the four companies — Big Hit and Kiswe, which developed VenewLive, along with YG and UMG — raises expectations for a major shift in the K-pop industry, as agencies are evolving toward directly operating fan platforms.
The name “VenewLive” was announced Wednesday, but the streaming platform itself was established last year by KBYK Live, a joint corporation founded by Big Hit Entertainment and streaming technology start-up Kiswe. The two firms signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2020 and founded KBYK Live in September.
Since then, the platform has successfully streamed online K-pop concerts under the Big Hit label, including BTS’s “Bang Bang Con: The Live” in June 2020 and “BTS Map Of The Soul ON:E” in October 2020. Concert tickets were sold on Weverse Shop on Big Hit Entertainment’s fan community app Weverse, which sent the purchaser a link leading to the streaming platform now named VenewLive.
Its streaming stability was tried and tested as the June concert garnered some 756,000 concurrent viewers while the October show entertained an audience that totaled 993,000 over a two-day span.
Online concerts have been in high demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “This past year has shown that the need for reliable and innovative livestreaming has never been greater,” said UMG Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and President of Operations Boyd Muir.
The virtual concerts used cutting-edge technology provided by Kiswe, such as a “multi-view” feature which enables fans to watch the concert from multiple different angles, and a live chat room feature. The high-quality resolution and audio were also praised, providing fans with an immersive experience.
“Our technology will be the basis for enabling fans to feel closer to artists, and help artists express their energy on a digital stage,” said John Lee, CEO of KBYK Live. Kiswe CEO Mike Schabel said the company is “excited to use [its] digital technology to extend beyond the boundaries of a stadium to help artists perform for their global fans, and for those fans to feel like they are part of the concert.”
“Our dream and goal is to provide the most advanced technology currently available so that fans can experience the artist’s content in the best way possible,” added Big Hit’s Global CEO Lenzo Yoon.
The platform also aims to further customize concerts, fan merchandise and socially interactive features to match each artist and fandom.
Big Hit Entertainment has recently been actively pursuing the online K-pop platform business, establishing the fan community platform Weverse in 2019 through its subsidiary beNX. Weverse sells merchandise, exclusive content and paid subscription services directly to fans. The agency announced on Jan. 27 that it signed a partnership with Korea’s largest search engine Naver via a stock swap, planning to merge Weverse with Naver’s K-pop platform Naver V Live. On the same day, Big Hit Entertainment also struck an investment deal with YG Entertainment, meaning YG artists will be added on Weverse soon. YG Entertainment is behind popular bands Blackpink, Big Bang, Winner and iKON.
BY HALEY YANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]