Universal Music Partners With Big Hit to Launch a Live-Streaming Platform

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Universal Music Group (UMG) has partnered with BTS agency Big Hit Entertainment to launch a livestreaming platform called “VenewLive.”

Universal Music and Big Hit announced their livestream partnership, which will see them coordinate “to launch a digital live streaming platform on a global scale,” in a general release. Seoul-headquartered K-pop agency YG Entertainment, in which Big Hit invested $63 million or so about two weeks ago, has joined UMG in backing VenewLive.

Worth noting is that Big Hit’s $63 million YG investment involved expanding the WeVerse artist-to-fan social platform’s livestreaming capabilities.

For this latest livestream-focused deal, however, YG and Universal Music Group have invested specifically in KBYK Live, a “joint venture” that Big Hit and Murray Hill, New Jersey-headquartered livestream startup Kiswe Mobile rolled out last year, after inking a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in May.

Kiswe also hosted BTS’s record-breaking Bang Bang Con: The Live pay-per-view concert in July of 2020 as well as the Map of the Soul ON:E show in October of the same year.

KBYK Live, for its part, formally launched VenewLive in September of 2020, and with their equity investments, UMG and YG “are seeking to help expand ‘VenewLive’ further alongside Big Hit and Kiswe, in ways which a range of artists, including those signed with UMG and YG can participate.”

The release doesn’t specify the financial terms of the investments or which UMG acts will first perform on VenewLive, but the involved companies expect “to secure [a] globally renowned artist line-up” moving forward. Additionally, Kiswe will further expand the platform in the coming months and years, building upon existing features such as multiple viewing angles, live-chat options, and 4K resolution.

Addressing the UMG and YG investments in a statement, Big Hit Global CEO Lenzo Yoon said, in part: “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 under any circumstances. We will continue to study how new technologies and attempts in various fields can have a positive impact on strengthening our fan experience and actively introduce them.”

Several other companies and individuals have made high-profile investments in livestreaming companies in recent months. January saw Live Nation acquire a majority stake in Veeps, a ticketed livestreaming platform created by Good Charlotte cofounders Joel and Benji Madden, for instance, while Scooter Braun and Jared Leto backed Moment House in October.

Significantly, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino stated when announcing the deal that livestreaming is “a great complement to” his company’s business, and that streaming traditional gigs “essentially gives any show an unlimited capacity.”