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Japan lifts cheering restrictions on concerts

The Japanese government is relaxing its longstanding ban on cheering at concerts and sporting events after announcing it is to reclassify Covid-19’s disease status.

From 8 May, coronavirus will be downgraded from class Class 2 to Class 5 – the same tier as seasonal flu – in the country, with residents told to use their own judgement when it comes to mitigation measures, including mask-wearing.

“With the change in categorisation, the nation’s Covid-19 measures will change from one where government agencies make various requests (to people and institutions) and intervene, to one that respects the choices of individuals, like in response to seasonal influenza,” says a statement by the infectious disease panel, as per the Japan Times.

“The government will need to make detailed explanations of its basic view and changes to be brought on by the reclassification, and provide necessary information.”

“Some in the audience will probably keep masking up, while others won’t”

Under the current restrictions, which will be lifted immediately, cheering is permitted only at venues where attendance is limited to 50% or less of capacity. Music venues have been able to operate at 100% capacity as long as audience members “wear masks, keep their voices down to conversational levels, and cheer or sing along for less than a quarter of every song”, reports Nikkei Asia.

“Some in the audience will probably keep masking up, while others won’t,” says Masashi Kondo, head of the Live House Commission trade group. “It’s hard to respond unless there are clear standards, so I hope the government will provide an explanation based on science.”

It was revealed last month that concert-goers in Japan could require government-issued ID cards to attend gigs under plans being considered by the government to help combat ticket touting.

 


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Japan mulls ID card plan for concerts

Concert-goers in Japan could require government-issued ID cards to attend gigs under plans being considered by the government to help combat ticket touting.

According to Japan Today via Yomiuri Shimbun, the country’s minister of digital affairs Taro Kano has told the cabinet’s digital agency to open talks with event organisers to encourage them to require ticket-holders to present their My Number Card when buying tickets, and again when entering venues.

The card is typically used as a form of identification for pension, tax, and other government functions, and the requirement would confirm the fan attending the show was the same person who bought the ticket.

However, critics of the proposal say it would make it impossible to purchase tickets for the 40% of residents who are yet to apply for a card, and would also rule out those without smartphones.

The move would also lock travellers and short-term visitors out of live entertainment events unless organisers set up separate protocols

In addition, the report notes the move would also lock travellers and short-term visitors out of live entertainment events unless organisers set up separate protocols.

Arama Japan recalls Japan’s previous attempts to curb touting, including the introduction of facial recognition technology and the launch of campaign group Tenbai No (Resale No) in 2014, backed by 116 music acts, 24 events, and four music organisations. Tenbai No took out full page ads in two of Japan’s biggest newspapers, which read: “We are against the high-priced reselling of tickets, which is depriving music of its future.”

In the same year, it notes, a woman was arrested after allegedly making 10 million yen (€70,500) profit by scalping tickets for boy band Arashi.

 


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Babymetal pilot ‘silent mosh pits’ at Japan shows

Babymetal have announced they are introducing “silent mosh pits” for their upcoming shows in Japan.

The Japanese duo’s The Other One tour commences at the 9,000-cap Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall in Chiba, outside Tokyo, from 28-29 January 2023. Tickets cost from 15,000 yen (€104).

The band have set aside a standing area for the concerts for people with small children, as well as “those who are not confident in their physical strength”.

“Please refrain from activities such as shouting, cheering, talking loudly, or any other behaviour that may be an inconvenience to other customers,” adds the post on the band’s website.

In line with the country’s Covid-19 policy, ticket-holders will also be handed “Savior Masks” on entry, which they are instructed to wear on top of their own protective masks.

“Wearing the Savior Mask will be mandatory up to when you exit the venue after the performance has ended”

“This Savior Mask is the official dress code for the show and you will be required to wear it on top of your own mask upon entering the venue and throughout the entire show,” says the notice. “Wearing the Savior Mask will be mandatory up to when you exit the venue after the performance has ended. Please note in advance that those who do not comply to these rules will be asked to leave.”

It adds: “In order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, please refrain from talking/singing/cheering/shouting loudly. However, singing/reacting at a level where only the person next to you can hear is acceptable.”

Babymetal head to Europe in the spring as special guests on Sabaton’s arena headline tour.

 


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AEG Global Partnerships expands into Asia Pacific

AEG Global Partnerships has announced an expansion into Asia Pacific (APAC), led by newly appointed vice president Matthew Zweck.

The industry veteran and 10-year AEG Global Partnerships executive will focus on developing strategic partnerships for the company’s portfolio of assets in Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Australia.

Based in the company’s Australian headquarters in Melbourne, Zweck and his team will be responsible for sales and servicing of brand collaborations with partners for AEG’s collection of assets in the region.

This includes recently announced projects such as Em Live, a 6,000-seat theatre that will anchor a new entertainment district in Bangkok, as well as new, state-of-the-art multi-purpose arena projects in Nagoya and Osaka, Japan, in addition to a new 20,000-seat arena in Seoul, Korea.

The new regional office will also oversee partnerships and innovative marketing programs for assets such Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena, and work with JV partner Mushroom for concert tours, festivals and other live entertainment properties produced by Frontier Touring.

Speaking on the expansion, Paul Samuels, executive VP of AEG Global Partnerships, says: “With a world-class network of more than 350 owned and affiliated venues, sports and music brands, our Global Partnerships business is unmatched in terms of our ability to offer partners access to platforms that cut through the clutter and create innovative campaigns and sponsorships that enable brands to build deeper relationships with their customers.

AEG’s Global Partnerships team is responsible for generating more than US$550 million in annual revenues

“Having worked with him for more than a decade, I’m thrilled to announce Matthew’s appointment and excited to see the growth and value he drives on the ground for not only our business, but for our future business partners across APAC.”

AEG’s Global Partnerships team is responsible for generating more than US$550 million in annual revenues and more than US$2 billion in contractually obligated income.

With a dedicated footprint and headcount based in Australia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand, the expansion of the Global Partnerships team mirrors the overall expansion of AEG’s business into Asia-Pacific.

Adam Wilkes, AEG Asia Pacific president & CEO, says: “The exponential growth of the APAC entertainment market is one I have been privileged to witness first-hand for over two decades. From first entering the market off the back off the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, our Asia Pacific business has gone from strength to strength and as we look to continue our investment footprint in this pivotal region, I am thrilled to have Matthew on hand to lead our Global Partnerships business on this new journey.”

Acting as an internal agency for AEG and AEG Presents, Global Partnerships oversees worldwide sponsorship sales and activation for over 135 properties across five continents, including venues, sports franchises, events, tours, festivals and digital content.

Notable deals include the naming rights of venues such as the O2 and the Mercedes-Benz Arenas – both the Berlin and Shanghai venues – to activations including the annual American Express presents BST Hyde Park festival, Luno presents All Points East and team sponsorship for Eisbären Ice Hockey teams.


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Creativeman on paving Japan’s road to recovery

Creativeman’s Layli Odamura has spoken to IQ about the challenges of being an international promoter in Japan, amid some of the strictest Covid-19 measures in the world.

Last month, the leading promoter held its marquee international festival, Summer Sonic, in Tokyo and Osaka for the first time since 2019.

Though the events in both cities sold out and were deemed a “great success,” the festival was unable to return to its full glory due to ongoing and prohibitive Covid-19 restrictions.

Event capacities were reduced (Tokyo to 55,000 and Osaka to 30,000) and both artists and fans had to adhere to a number of requirements in order to attend the annual events.

International artists were required to present proof of a negative result from a pre-departure PCR test, submit personal information including vaccination history and sign a written oath in order to perform.

Of the 100 acts that appeared at Summer Sonic 2022, 40% were international – which Odamura says is “a lot less than in previous years as we are cautiously working within pandemic travel restrictions”.

Despite the stringent measures, 110,000 tickets sold for Tokyo and 60,000 tickets sold for Osaka across the two days

The 1975, Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion, St Vincent and Carly Rae Jepsen were among the overseas artists that performed across the six stages in Tokyo and four in Osaka.

Attendees, meanwhile, had to undergo a temperature check upon entry, wear a face covering, maintain social distancing and be silent in the audience.

Despite the stringent measures, 110,000 tickets sold for Tokyo and 60,000 tickets sold for Osaka across the two days. A further 20,000 tickets were sold for Sonicmania, which is an all-night festival that ushers in Summer Sonic.

“The challenge for us as an international promoter was striving to bring the festival back to a fully recovered state just as the rest of the world already has, while still abiding by the domestic restrictions given,” says Odamura.

“We made it work though, like we always do, and we are thankful to those artists who have supported us by keeping within the given restrictions, while not compromising their incredible shows.

“And, thanks to the fans who have been eagerly and patiently waiting for the return of large-scale international festivals, Summer Sonic this year was a great success and this definitely was a big step towards financial recovery for us.”

“Summer Sonic this year was a great success and this definitely was a big step towards financial recovery for us”

Odamura says Creativeman‘s financial recovery has also been helped along by the government-backed J-LODlive subsidy, as well as mid-pandemic spin-off event Super Sonic.

With Japan’s government starting to roll back restrictions, the live industry is finally on the road to recovery – though Odamura says it may be a while before consumers regain their confidence.

“While we had a fully sold-out festival, in Japan the general public is incredibly cautious,” explains Odamura. “We are a diligent group of people and tend to stick to rules and in the hope of keeping the spread of the virus to a minimum – a lot of people are restraining themselves from going out and will carry on wearing masks as a personal choice.

“Even some who will come to shows will suppress cheering or even enjoy the show fully, somewhat holding themselves back. This may continue until Covid is beaten globally which will then impact Japan to relax more.

“Regardless, we at Creativeman are determined to bring back the live industry in Japan to the same standard as the rest of the world.”

 


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Live Nation, 88rising add to Asia festival boom

Live Nation and 88rising are the latest promoters to announce new events in Asia, buoying a festival boom on the continent.

The news comes shortly after Rolling Loud announced plans to expand its hip-hop franchise to Thailand in 2023, and Lollapalooza revealed intentions to launch in Mumbai early next year.

Live Nation’s contribution to the uptick is a one-day urban festival in Tokyo, Japan, in collaboration with the country’s leading promoter Creativeman.

Tonal Tokyo will take place at the Ariake Arena (cap. 15,000) on 29 October this year, featuring a mix of domestic and international acts.

Charli XCX, Jamie xx, Years & Years and Lany are among the artists slated to perform across the main arena and the sub arena.

“We aim to create a new-generational music festival that brings together the diverse sounds and colours of Tokyo”

“This autumn, a new urban festival will be born in our Tokyo. Tonal means ‘timbre’ or ‘colour’. We aim to create a new-generational music festival that brings together the diverse sounds and colours of Tokyo and sends them out from Tokyo to the world,” says the event’s organisers.

Tickets for Tonal Tokyo go on sale on 3 September, with general admission billed at ¥16,500 (€123) and VIP tickets going for ¥30,000 (€224).

Elsewhere, Asian-American music powerhouse 88rising is preparing to bring its US-festival Head in the Clouds to Jakarta, Indonesia, this winter.

The festival will take place at Community Park PIK2 on 3 and 4 December, featuring performances from “artists around the world” – though the line-up is yet to be announced.

Head in the Clouds Jakarta will follow the California edition on 10 and 11 August, which is co-produced with AEG Presents.

Jackson Wang, Jay Park, Rich Brian, MILLI, Chung Ha, eaJ and Bibi are among the artists slated to perform in Los Angeles.

 


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Fuji Rock to welcome back international acts

Japanese festival Fuji Rock is to welcome back international artists after two years of prohibitive Covid measures.

The Smash Corporation festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, the promoter was forced to replace its typical international bill with a completely domestic line-up.

Attendees of last year’s event had to abide by an extensive list of prohibitions which included raising your voice, cheering, shouting, high-fiving and having ‘unnecessary conversations during the performances’.

Other international artists on the line-up include Dinosaur Jr, Syd, Arlo Parks, Black Pumas, Tom Misch and Mura Masa

This year will herald a return to form for the international festival, with a lineup led by headliners Jack White and Halsey, as well as Foals, Bonobo, Fontaines D.C. and more.

Other international artists on the line-up include Dinosaur Jr, Syd, Arlo Parks, Black Pumas, Tom Misch, Mura Masa, Hiatus Kaiyote, Superorganism, Japanese Breakfast, Snail Mail and more.

The 25th-anniversary event will take place at Fuji Rock’s longstanding home, Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture, from 29 to 31 July this year.

News of the line-up comes after Smash, along with a consortium of Japan-based international promoters, spent much of 2021 lobbying for the resumption of international touring in Japan.

 


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Creativeman: “We can see light at the end of the tunnel”

Japan’s leading promoter Creativeman says it is “seeing light at the end of the tunnel” as restrictions are gradually lifted.

The Japanese government recently announced plans to increase the cap on the number of people entering Japan from 3,500 to 5,000 per day starting in March.

In addition, the quarantine period for arrivals will be shortened from seven days to three from March, when the country opens to returning foreign residents (not tourists).

However, the quarantine requirement for international artists won’t be determined until next week, according to Japanese promoters’ association ACPC.

Regardless, Creativeman is bullish its marquee festival Summer Sonic will return to Tokyo and Osaka this summer for the first time since 2019 – international artists and all.

“We are confident Summer Sonic will happen this August,” says Creativeman’s Layli Odamura. “The reception at the announcement was so fantastic on every platform. Everyone is very eager and ready for it to happen and feel the heat.”

“We are confident Summer Sonic will happen this August”

The 1975 and Post Malone were recently announced as headliners of the festival, due to take place on 20–21 August simultaneously at Zozomarine Stadium & Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo, and at the Maishima Sonic Park in Osaka.

Other international artists lined up for the event are Carly Rae Jepsen, Kasabian, The Libertines, Maneskin, Megan Thee Stallion, One OK Rock, The Offspring, Primal Scream, St. Vincent, Yungblud, All Time Low, Beabadoobee, Easy Life, Fishbone, Kacey Musgraves, Inhaler, Kula Shaker, Rina Sawayama, Squid and the Linda Lindas.

“More and more artists are reaching out and eager to visit or revisit Japan,” maintains Odamura. “We as a promoter are ready for the live market to return and we will continue to assess the situation with the government. There will be multiple headline shows happening towards the autumn onwards too.”

Despite Japan’s strict border controls and quarantine requirements during the past two years, Creativeman has had some success in bringing overseas artists to the country.

Last September, the promoter pulled off Japan’s first large-scale music event that included overseas artists since the pandemic began, Supersonic.

Zedd, Steve Aoki, Clean Bandit, Alan Walker and Aurora were among the overseas artists that performed at the two-day event at Zozomarine Stadium.

“More and more artists are reaching out and eager to visit or revisit Japan”

The festival was considered a test case for reopening Japan’s live industry to foreign acts and, a few months later, Creativeman promoted the first headline tour of an international artist in Japan in 18 months with King Crimson.

In another win for international promoters in Japan, a Creativeman-led alliance successfully lobbied the government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The International Promoters Alliance Japan, which was officially announced last year, includes Live Nation Japan, Udo Artists, Smash Corporation, Hayashi International Promotions and Kyodo Tokyo.

The consortium, completed by Avex Entertainment, Hanshin Contents Link/Billboard Japan, M&I Company and Promax, complements the work of existing music association ACPC, with which it shares members.

The consortium’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines, which Asia-based execs say is the biggest challenge facing the market.

 


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Omicron live music restrictions: World update

As the new Omicron variant of coronavirus takes hold, IQ has updated the latest restrictions affecting major international touring markets. This update complements our European list which can be read here

Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key live music markets around the globe.

Please note that we will aim to keep this article as up-to-date as possible but all information is subject to change. 

To submit an update to this, please get in touch. This article was last updated on Thursday 16 December.

To read about the Omicron restrictions affecting European markets, please click here


Abu Dhabi
As of 27 November, the operating capacity of indoor events has increased to 80%. Entry to indoor events requires attendees to show their green pass and a negative PCR test result received within 96 hours.

Attendees at indoor events must also undertake an EDE scan at public entry points and wear a mask.

Argentina
As of 16 November, mass events in outdoor spaces can take place at 100% capacity. Attendees over 18 years of age must provide proof of at least one dose of the vaccine, and wear a face mask during the event.

Australia
In New South Wales, face masks, proof of vaccination and Covid-19 Safe Check-in are not required. Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a Safety Plan.

In Victoria (and from 17 December, Queensland too) many leisure and entertainment facilities, such as live music venues, can only open for attendees and staff who are fully vaccinated or exempted. Capacity limits and social distancing will not apply.

South Australia is currently operating under Level 1 restrictions which means venues are limited to 75% capacity for seated events and 50% for standing events. Covid Management Plans required for events of more than 1,000 people. Masks are required for shared indoor public spaces.

Though Western Australia remains in a ‘state of emergency’, events and concerts are permitted to go ahead at full capacity. However, businesses must provide a Covid Safety Plan and maintain a contact register. Events with more than 500 patrons are required to complete a Covid Event Checklist or Plan.

For information on restrictions in Northern Territory click here, Tasmania here and Australia Capital Territory here.

Brazil
In November, the Brazilian government increased the capacity limit for music venues from 70% to 100% with proof of vaccination.

Canada
In Ontario, Canada’s capital city and its biggest live music market, new restrictions came into effect on Sunday 19 December.

Under the new rules, music venues and many other indoor public settings will be limited to 50% capacity. Event spaces are required to close by 23:00.

Canada’s live music restrictions vary from province to province.

See the latest guidelines for each of the regions here: AlbertaBritish Columbia, Manitoba, New BrunswickNewfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova ScotiaNunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon.

Chile
Restrictions vary across the country but the majority of regions are on step 3 (preparation) or step 4 (initial opening) of the national five-step reopening plan.

During step 3, seated concerts in closed spaces (such as music venues) can take place at 50% capacity if all attendees show a Mobility Pass verifying full vaccination. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 30% capacity.

Seated concerts in open spaces (such as open-air venues) can take place at 60% capacity with a Mobility Pass. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 40% capacity.

In non-seated closed spaces, events can take place with up to 100 people (sans Mobility Pass) or 500 people (with Mobility Pass). In non-seated open spaces, events can take place with up to 200 (sans Mobility Pass) or 1,000 (with Mobility Pass).

Attendees at all non-seated venues must be able to maintain social distancing (1m without food consumption, 1.5m with).

Masks are required in all public spaces.

China

Life is largely back to normal but regional lockdowns have been imposed every time there are new outbreaks of the virus.

Dubai
Mask-wearing is compulsory, as is keeping a two-meter social distance, except in restaurants, cafes, offices, workplaces, gyms, shopping centres, beaches and public and entertainment parks, where a one-meter rule applies.

Outside, you must wear a mask unless exercising, eating or drinking, at a barbershop or salon, in a car with people from the same household, or if you’re alone.

Live entertainment and activities are permitted in restaurants, cafés and shopping malls. Events with free movement – such as standing concerts – are now allowed again, with a maximum of 5,000 people. Vaccination is required for these events.

Japan
At the beginning of November, the Japanese government eased its 10,000-capacity limit on mass gatherings such as concerts following a steady decline in coronavirus cases.

Events across the country can now admit 5,000 people, or 50% of capacity – whichever is larger – while large-scale spaces are permitted to welcome more than 10,000 spectators in Tokyo and other regions previously under a state or quasi-state of emergency. However, events that will involve fans shouting and cheering will be capped at 50% of capacity.

See more information on event restrictions here.

Mexico
Mexico is currently following a colour-coded system (red, orange, yellow, green) which is updated every two weeks.

Currently, all states are coded yellow (resuming limited activities but with precaution) or green (resuming normal activities but with precaution).

Concerts can only take place in green-coded states. See the colour codes for states here.

New Zealand
Since the beginning of this month, New Zealand has been operating with a traffic light system, under which each region has been assigned a colour (green, orange or red) based on vaccination rates and the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

A region’s colour determines the set of restrictions by which it has to abide.

In regions assigned ‘red’, venues using vaccine certificates are limited to 100 people with one-metre social distancing. In ‘orange’ regions, these venues face no limits on gatherings at events, retail, hospitality. Venues that don’t use vaccine certificates are not permitted indoor or outdoor events under red or orange.

Every region aside from Northland will move to orange at 23:59 NZST on 30 December.  These settings will stay in place until 17 January when the cabinet will review. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected many areas would move to green at that point.

South Africa
As of 1 October 2021, South Africa is operating under an adjusted Alert Level 1 which indicates a “low Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness”.

Under Alert Level 1, leisure and entertainment facilities, whether indoors or outdoors, must close at 23:00. Nightclubs are closed to the public.

Face masks are mandatory for every person when in a public place and 1.5 metres social distancing must be maintained.

Entertainment facilities are limited to a maximum capacity of 750 people for indoor venues and 2,000 people or less for outdoor venues – with social distancing. Smaller venues are limited to 50% capacity.

South Korea
It was announced on 16 December that South Korea will reimpose curfews on businesses for an initial two weeks from Saturday 18 December.

Public places such as concert halls and cinemas will be permitted to operate until 22:00, while restaurants, cafes and other nightlife venues will have to close at 21:00.

The measures, announced on Thursday (16 December), come a month and a half after the government initiated a phased reopening plan. Amid record highs of Covid-19 infections, the cabinet has gradually rolled back the policy.

United States
Restrictions may vary from state to state – check the US government website for the latest guidance.

New York City
On 13 December, governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. This measure is effective until 15 January 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions.

California
California is fully open for business with no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements.

For indoor events with 1,000 or more or outdoor events with 10,000 or more, attendees age 3 and older must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a negative Covid-19 test.

Unvaccinated persons are required to wear masks in all indoor public settings. It is recommended that fully vaccinated people also wear masks in these settings.

 


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Moment House launches in Japan with ticketer Zaiko

Moment House has launched in Japan through a partnership with digital ticketing platform Zaiko, which invested in the company in September.

The LA-based live media platform, which powers ticketed livestreamed ‘Moments’ for leading musicians and entertainers, has processed more than one million tickets across 168 countries since its launch in 2019.

Tame Impala, KSI, Halsey, St Vincent, Kygo, Kaytranada, Brockhampton, Grouplove, Yungblud and Justin Bieber are among the artists that have worked with the platform.

Moment House Japan has now announced its first virtual shows showcasing talent from across Asia. LA-based Japanese artist Jin Akanishi will be showcasing his first “online digital experience” on 25 December.

Tame Impala, KSI, Halsey, St Vincent, Kygo, Kaytranada, Brockhampton and Justin Bieber have worked with the platform

In January, the platform will present a performance from Korean-American rapper Jessi as well as a virtual gig from Thai singers Billkin and PP Krit.

Moment House’s expansion comes after the platform received US$12 million in new funding from investors including UTA Ventures, the investment arm of United Talent Agency, artists Halsey and Kaytranada, and Max Cutler, founder of podcast studio Parcast and head of new content for Spotify.

The new investors joined existing backers including high-profile artist managers Troy Carter, Scooter Braun, Myles Shear (Kygo), Austin Rosen (Post Malone), as well as actor Jared Leto, UnitedMasters’ Steve Stoute, Patreon CEO Jack Conte and ex-TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer.

 


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