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Tencent Music invests in Wave and re-airs Billie Eilish livestream


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These are two separate stories, but they both show Tencent Music’s growing focus on livestreaming. This morning TME announced a strategic partnership and minority equity investment in startup Wave, whose tech has been used for virtual concerts by the likes of The Weeknd, John Legend and Lindsey Stirling. The deal will enable TME to air Wave’s western concerts on its music services in China, but also work with the company on concerts for its TME Live division.

It’s a good deal for Wave, which started life as a cool-but-niche (we liked it, but VR headset sales growth, which it relied on, was sluggish) app for virtual reality performances called TheWaveVR. However, it has since pivoted into a tool that can be used not just to create whizzy-looking VR performances for its own app, but also to broadcast those out to much bigger platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Facebook.

Or TikTok, as with The Weeknd’s recent livestream, which attracted more than two million fans. Wave raised a $30m funding round in June this year to push on, and the Tencent Music deal is further evidence of its ambitions.

The second TME story today concerns a specific livestream: Billie Eilish’s ‘Where Do We Go? The Livestream’. It happened on 24 October, with fans paying $30 to watch. Now TME will be rebroadcasting the show on TME Live on 21 November, but also on its three streaming services (QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music) and its karaoke app WeSing.

What’s more, fans in China won’t have to pay to watch: the broadcast will be free. Tencent Music is also making three individual tracks from the concert available as music videos on its platforms. The potential audience is certainly large: Tencent Music ended September with 646 million monthly active users of its music streaming services.

TME Live has also been growing in prominence, putting on more than 30 concerts since March 2020, with the company exploring sponsorship from brands as well as fan payments as its business model. The Wave partnership and investment slots in to this strategy.

Stuart Dredge

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