We seem to have arrived at the ‘huge corporations buying in to the livestreaming platforms space’ phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tencent Music invested in Wave last November, having already attracted big audiences with its TME Live online events. Then Live Nation bought a majority stake in livestreaming startup Veeps in January.
Now Universal Music Group and K-Pop firm YG Entertainment have made their moves – together, in partnership with another K-Pop colossus, Big Hit Entertainment. UMG and YG are co-investing in KBYK Live, which in turn is a joint venture launched last year by Big Hit and US firm Kiswe. Its lead product is a livestreaming platform called VenewLive, which was used for BTS’s online concerts in June and October.
Those huge-scale tests clearly impressed UMG and YG, so they’ll be using VenewLive with their artists now too, tapping features including multiple views; 4K resolution streaming video; live chat and “synchronised light sticks functions”. We seem to have arrived at the ‘synchronised light sticks functions for the livestreaming platforms space’ phase earlier than we expected, etc etc.
But seriously: there are several trends at work here. First, there’s the big music companies investing in livestreaming trend, which we expect to see more of in the weeks ahead.
When BTS attracted 765,000 and 993,000 fans respectively to their two (fully ticketed) livestreaming events last year, we said that western artists would be taking inspiration. Now some of UMG’s big artists (not to mention YG’s K-Pop stars) will be using the very same technology for their own shows. Which in turn bolsters the sense that for many big stars, 2021 will *not* be the return to physical touring, but may instead be the ramp-up of ticketed livestreams with big production values and clever tech, to plug the gap.
Second, there’s the increasing closeness of Big Hit and YG, with the former having recently announced plans to invest around $63m in the latter as a strategic investment, which will also see YG using Big Hit’s Weverse fan community. It’s not quite a K-Pop consolidation (yet) but it does represent these companies collaborating around artist-fan engagement platforms – be it livestreaming or social media – that are also mightily appealing to artists and labels internationally.