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CES: Sony bows VR concert tech, LG introduces virtual DJ

Among the music-related innovations at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is taking place online from 11 to 14 January, are an ‘immersive reality’ concert experience by Sony, a virtual influencer and DJ created by LG, and Samsung’s in-car Live Interactive Virtual Experience (LIVE).

Japan’s Sony Corporation used motion-capture technology to recreate US singer Madison Beer as a CGI avatar for a performance of her song ‘Boyshit’, placing her in a virtual replica of Sony Hall (1,000-cap.) in New York, as seen in the video above.

The event was spearheaded by a newly launched division of Sony Corporation of America, Sony Immersive Music Studios.

A longer performance by Beer, who is signed to Sony Music-owned Epic Records, featuring a medley of songs from her upcoming debut album, Life Support, will made available on Oculus VR and PlayStation VR, as well as 2D platforms, later this year.

Sylvia Rhone, Epic’s CEO, says: “Madison Beer is raising the bar of what’s possible in a virtual concert performance and we couldn’t be more excited. With this cutting-edge collaboration of music and technology, Madison has brought her innovative vision to life in a unique way while taking it to new heights.

“Madison Beer is raising the bar of what’s possible in a virtual concert performance”

“This is another example of Epic’s commitment to empower our artists with groundbreaking opportunities to expand their creative options and engage fans through immersive experiences.”

In addition to the Madison Beer event, CES also sees Sony make available a live performance by Zara Larsson (another Epic artist) in 360° immersive sound as an on-demand stream.

For Samsung, CES represented another opportunity to showcase Harman’s LIVE technology, which, as IQ reported last week, would enable concertgoers to interact with artists from behind their steering wheels.

Elsewhere, compatriot LG introduced Reah Keem, an entirely fictional person who hosted the company’s livestreamed CES keynote unveiling its range of CLOi UV-C robots.

As seen on her Instagram page, Keem introduced herself as a songwriter and DJ (as well as a keen international traveller) who’s “so excited to be showing you some of the latest and coolest

from LG”.

Despite being entirely computer generated, Keem does have music to listen to: check out her (so far) only single, ‘Comino Drive’, on her SoundCloud account.

reahkeem · COMINO DRIVE

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Sony’s Thread Shop to acquire Araca merch division

The Thread Shop, Sony Music’s merchandise unit, is to acquire the music merch division of the Araca Group, a US theatrical production and entertainment merchandising company.

Araca’s music merch roster includes artists such as Led Zeppelin, Pink, Shania Twain, Dua Lipa, Sugarland and Zayn Malik. The purchase of Araca, headquartered in LA and with offices in New York, Las Vegas, London and Sydney, significantly grows Sony Music’s in-house merchandising business, and several Araca team members have joined Thread Shop to work on the companies’ new integrated roster.

Richard Story, president of Sony Music Entertainment’s commercial music group, comments: “As artists continue to seek out merchandising opportunities to complement their music revenues, branding and marketing, Sony Music is significantly expanding its presence in this growing area of the business under the leadership of [Thread Shop SVP, strategy] Howard Lau.

“The acquisition of the Araca Group’s music merchandise division will further strengthen the Thread Shop’s artist roster and infrastructure and the competitive capabilities we offer to the music community.”

“Artists continue to seek out merchandising opportunities to complement their music revenues, branding and marketing”

Sony’s major-label rivals Universal and Warner also have their own merchandise divisions, in the form of Bravado/Epic Rights and EMP Merchandising, respectively.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity this acquisition provides for our music merchandise division,” says Michael Rego, CEO of the Araca Group, commenting on the Sony deal. “The team at the Thread Shop is artist-focused, passionate and well positioned to build upon the merchandising programs [sic] that Araca has created for our music clients.”

Sales of music merchandise were were worth nearly US$3.5 billion in 2018, IQ revealed last month, with more artists seeking to grow their merchandise offerings to offset limited revenues from music streaming.

The agreement with Araca comes as Sony seeks to also increase its presence in live, announcing on the same day the acquisition of a majority stake in UK promoter Senbla.

 


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Sony Japan ups live presence with Osaka venue

In the same week it emerged Zepp Hall is to open its first music venue outside Japan, Zepp Kuala Lumpur, the Sony Music-owned venue operator today opens a second venue, in Osaka.

With a capacity of 2,801, the company says Zepp Osaka Bayside is the “largest [dedicated] music venue” for popular music in Japan. The first performers will be J-rock band Alexandro, who play two nights (17–18 February) as part of their We Come in Peace tour.

The venue is located on Osaka’s waterfront, near Sakurajima station and the Universal Studios Japan theme park.

Zepp now operates six venues in Japan, and also promotes tours and festivals under the Zepp Live brand. Is is a 100%-owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan.

 


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DEAG acquires 100% of Gold Entertainment

Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) has taken full control of Gold Entertainment, the company it co-founded in 2010 with Sony Music Entertainment Germany to promote schlager (crooner) shows.

The move will, says the Berlin-based live entertainment giant, bolster its presence in the schlager and family entertainment sectors and allow it to better “utilise DEAG’s own formats, such as Disney On Ice and others, more efficiently in this area”.

DEAG has said previously that family entertainment is a key growth area for the company, predicting in July turnover from family shows would surpass €30 million in 2016.

The full acquisition of Gold follows news that Rockavaria – one of three major music festivals launched by DEAG in 2015 – would not go ahead this year

The full acquisition of Gold Entertainment follows news that Rockavaria – one of three major music festivals launched by DEAG in 2015 at a cost of approximately €23m – would not go ahead in 2017 due to difficulty attracting talent. The loss of Rockavaria follows the earlier cancellation of Rock im Revier, leaving only Rock in Vienna of the original three events, which many saw as an attempt to rival CTS Eventim’s Rock am Ring and Rock im Park.

The company also today announced the sale of its stake in Manfred Hertlein Veranstaltungs, a promoter of primarily German-language concerts and other live shows, in which Gold Entertainment held a 66.6% stake.

“We have achieved a great deal together with Manfred Hertlein and his team since 2010, and we will realise certain productions together in the future,” comments DEAG COO/CDO Christian Diekmann (pictured). “Nevertheless, this step was important in order to be
able to take better advantage of our opportunities in this segment.”

 


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Sony Music invests in booking platform Gigmit

Sony Music Entertainment, one of the ‘big three’ record labels, has expanded its presence in the live industry with a six-figure investment in online talent booking platform Gigmit.

The Berlin-based start-up – effectively a digital booking agency with more than 40,000 artists available monthly to venues and promoters – has since its founding in 2012 processed close to €5 million in offers and supplied acts to Melt! Booking and the Sziget and Deichbrand festivals, among others..

Marcus Rüssel, Gigmit’s CEO, says: “I’m really happy as strong a partner as Sony Music by our side. This is our biggest deal to date.

“The Gigmit business model and our expertise in developing new talent sustainably are a perfect match”

“Through the effective use of synergies, Gigmit will be able to refine its content, which in turn will allow us to strengthen our position and increase our influence in the German-speaking market.”

Philip Ginthör, CEO of Sony Music GSA (Germany, Switzerland and Austria), adds: “The Gigmit business model and our expertise in developing new talent sustainably are a perfect match. Through this partnership we will generate both artistic success and economic growth. We are really looking forward to working with Marcus and his team.”

 


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