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K-Pop giant HYBE merges with Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings

The great K-Pop / Western consolidation continues, with the news that HYBE – the recently rebranded Big Hit Entertainment – is merging with Scooter Braun’s investment company Ithaca Holdings.

HYBE is acquiring a 100% stake in the company and its subsidiaries, according to Variety, with a rumoured price of more than $1bn.

The deal will bring HYBE’s stable of K-Pop acts (BTS included) under the same corporate umbrella as Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Big Machine Label Group. Let the clock begin ticking on an internet-breaking Bieber/BTS collab…

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Scooter Braun sells Taylor Swift catalogue to Shamrock Holdings

When Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Label Group for around $300m in 2019, the deal included Taylor Swift’s back catalogue of recordings – something that made Swift furious given her ongoing disputes with Braun.

Nearly a year and a half on, Ithaca has sold those master rights to Swift’s first six albums on, in a deal that Variety suggested was “north of $350m” (and possibly as high as $450m after earn-backs).

It’s not a happy ending for Swift though: she tweeted out her take on the news last night, claiming that: a.) she balked at trying to buy the catalogue herself due to an “ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive”; b.) that the buyer is private equity company Shamrock Holdings (fresh from a recent $400m funding round for music acquisitions); and c.) that she did talk to Shamrock about working with the company, but “learned that under their terms Scooter Braun will continue to profit off my old musical catalog for many years” so declined.

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Spotify signs podcast development deal with Scooter Braun

Scooter Braun is a man with his finger in many pies, and now he’s added podcasts to his pastry portfolio. In fact, his Ithaca Holdings company has signed a podcast development deal with Spotify (described as a ‘first look’ agreement by Variety, which means Spotify will get first dibs on new shows from Ithaca Holdings).

The first show has already been announced: ‘Country Shine with Graham Bunn’. It’ll be a twice-weekly podcast focusing on country music, hosted by radio and TV veteran Bunn and sports reporter Camryn Irwin.

Braun himself is executive producer on the project, which will be exclusive to Spotify. It’s the latest expansion for Spotify’s country-focused content: earlier this year it launched a new playlist called ‘Indigo’ to sit alongside ‘Hot Country’ and ‘New Boots’ as its genre flagships.

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Livestreaming startup Moment House raises $1.5m from starry seed investors

Scooter Braun, Troy Carter, Patreon CEO Jack Conte, actor Jared Leto and artist Kygo’s Palm Crew Investments are among the investors in the latest ticketed livestreams startup, Moment House, which announced its $1.5m seed funding round today.

The round was led by Forerunner Ventures, with Sequoia Capital partner Jess Lee also among the angel investors, as the startup also announced the first set of artists who’ll be using its platform.

Kygo is one of them alongside Yungblud – who’s using Moment House for his ‘digital world tour’ – Blackbear, Kaytranada, Denzel Curry and Ruel.

Ahead of the announcement, Music Ally talked to CEO and co-founder Arjun Mehta about his plans for livestreaming experiences that fans will be happy to pay for.

A graduate of the USC Jimmy Iovine & Dr. Dre Academy, Mehta counts on the strong support of his “mentor” Iovine, alongside the angel investors who are being announced today.

In one sense, Moment House is not wildly different to the other livestreaming platforms jostling for attention during the Covid-19 pandemic: Maestro, Veeps, StageIt, Release Party, Bulldog DM and the rest.

In this case, artists announce shows (or “moments”) and sell tickets to those shows, along with up-sells to merchandise and VIP experiences. Mehta is hoping that the quality of the fan experience will help Moment House to stand out from the crowd.

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Big-data startup Audigent raises $6.7m Series A funding round

Startup Audigent has raised a $6.7m funding round for its business as a ‘first-party data platform’ for entertainment, sports and lifestyle clients. The investors include some familiar names too: Warner Music Group and Alibaba’s artist-turned exec Gao Xiaosong.

But the round was led by Raised In Space, a joint venture between music-manager Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and blockchain firm Ripple’s Xpring investment subsidiary. There is blockchain technology afoot in Audigent’s business helping clients build their digital audiences for marketing purposes.