Universal Music, YG invest in livestreaming service
Universal Music Group (UMG) and K-pop label YG Entertainment have invested in KBYK Live, a livestreaming company backed by BTS’s management company, Big Hit Entertainment.
The investment from YG – home to Korean superstars including Blackpink, Big Bang and iKon – and UMG will go towards expanding KBYK Live’s VenewLive, bringing both companies’ rosters of artists to the platform, which boasts augmented reality (AR), multi-view and 4K streaming capabilities. KBYK Live was established after Big Hit and tech start-up Kiswe partnered last summer.
The technology behind VenewLive was demonstrated at BTS’s record-breaking Bang Bang Con: The Live and Map of the Soul: One in June and October respectively. The former drew in a peak concurrent audience of 756,000, while the latter was viewed by nearly a million people worldwide.
The shows also offered a variety of premium features, delivering a full stage production from multiple angles in 4K resolution, with live chat and synchronised light sticks.
“This past year has shown that the need for reliable and innovative livestreaming has never been greater”
“VenewLive has already livestreamed several large-scale performances last year and provided unique immersive fan concert experiences that can be offered through our cutting-edge technologies, including six-angle multi-views, 4K resolution and various interactive features,” says KBYK Live CEO John Lee. “Our technology will be the basis for enabling fans to feel closer to artists, and help artists express their energy on a digital stage.”
“We are excited about this investment as our company, with many artists competitive on a global stage, has secured a high-quality platform with leading technologies,” adds YG Entertainment COO Sung Jun Choi. “We will continue to do our best to provide more interactive experiences and new services to global fans.”
Boyd Muir, executive vice-president and CFO of Universal Music, says its unspecified investment into KBYK/VenewLive will allow the company to “evolve the opportunities and live streaming experiences for UMG artists and their fans today and into the future”.
“This past year has shown that the need for reliable and innovative livestreaming has never been greater,” he adds. “VenewLive offers some of the most creative and memorable opportunities for today’s artists to globalise their art and performances, tailored to enhance the community and fan experience.”
Korean tech giant invests in K-pop’s SM Entertainment
South Korean technology firm Naver is investing in K-pop management company SM Entertainment, in a deal believed to be worth over €70 million.
SM Entertainment, one of the largest entertainment companies in Korea, is home to K-pop acts including EXO, Red Velvet, Super Junior, BoA, NCT and Girls’ Generation.
Naver Corporation, which operates Korean search engine Naver, mobile messaging service Line and live broadcasting app VLive, is not the first tech giant to show interest in SM, in which Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba took a 4% stake in 2016.
South Korean technology firm Naver is investing in K-pop management company SM Entertainment, in a deal believed to be worth over €70 million
Naver is believed to be acquiring shares worth approximately ₩100 billion (€71.2m), or just over 12% of the company, making it the second largest shareholder after SM Entertainment founder, Lee Soo-man.
According to AllKpop, Naver plans to use the intellectual property owned by SM Entertainment, which is home to acts including, to bolster content across its own platforms.
The deal follows a similar investment by Naver in fellow K-pop giant YG Entertainment, home to acts such as Blackpink, Big Bang and iKon, in 2017.
Founded in 1995, SM Entertainment is one of the big three Korean entertainment firms, along with YG Entertainment and BTS home Big Hit.
Last year, SM became the first K-pop company to join forces with a US talent agency, signing with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) for company-wide representation.
CAA takes on roster of K-pop giant SM Entertainment
Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has signed K-pop management company SM Entertainment for representation in all areas.
CAA will assist on all areas of SM Entertainment’s business, including lifestyle brands and advertising, in addition to live events.
Based in Seoul, SM Entertainment looks after artists including new supergroup SuperM, girl groups f(x), Red Velvet and Girls’ Generation, NCT sub-unit NCT 127 and Super Junior.
In 2016, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group bought US$30 million worth of shares in the entertainment company, equivalent to a 4% stake.
The deal marks the first time one of the major K-pop management companies – SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment (Blackpink, Bigbang) and Big Hit Entertainment (BTS, Tomorrow X Tomorrow, Lee Hyun) – has entered into such an agreement with a US talent agency.
“We are honoured and excited to be working with the incredible SM team to support the growth of what is already a huge fan base around the world”
“It is a great pleasure [to be] working together with the largest entertainment and sports agency in the US,” comments SM Entertainment executive director Soo-Man Lee, adding that SuperM and NCT 127 in particular “will expand further on the global market with CAA”.
“This contract is only the beginning of our collaboration,” continues Soo-Man Lee. “I hope to contribute to our forthcoming global entertainment business by providing new visions and creating more meaningful content.”
“Seeing an SM Entertainment show is an amazing experience,” says CAA president Richard Lovett. “Soo-Man Lee and his talented team have an incredible eye for high energy and charismatic talent. We are honoured and excited to be working with the incredible SM team to support the growth of what is already a huge fan base around the world.”
The companies have already worked together on SuperM’s upcoming North American tour, which kicks off on 11 November in Texas, and on TV appearances for NCT 127.