Universal Music Group (UMG) and K-pop giant YG Entertainment have invested an undisclosed sum in an emerging global digital live streaming platform powered by BTS backer Big Hit Entertainment and cloud video tech company Kiswe was founded, announced the company on Tuesday.
The leading K-pop company and YG rival Big Hit first partnered with New Jersey-based Kiswe in a letter of intent last May. In September they set up a joint venture called KBYK Live and within a month they jointly launched a live stream content platform called VenewLive.
Now, YG and UMG have joined an undisclosed size holding to work with the couple to further expand the platform’s reach, enhance the applications of their unique multi-view technology, and showcase their own artists. The move builds on the success of Big Hit’s virtual concerts on Kiswe’s technology in 2020 and will help agencies find new ways to entice paying viewers as the COVID-19 pandemic expands and prevents in-person shows.
“The past year has shown that the need for reliable and innovative live streaming has never been greater,” said Boyd Muir, UMG’s executive vice president, chief financial officer and president of operations. “We are very excited to partner with Big Hit, YG and Kiswe as KBYK partners to further develop the opportunities and live streaming experiences for UMG artists and their fans today and in the future.”
Sung Jun Choi, YG Entertainment’s chief operating officer, said he was “excited about this investment … [which] has secured a high quality platform with leading technologies “for the company’s artists. The move will help YG in its search for “more interactive experiences and new services for global fans,” he added.
The KBYK Live platform features the use of Kiswe technology, which allows fans to choose between multiple views of an ongoing live event previously used on a larger scale by the company in the live sports field. For musical performances, the technology enables fans to customize their display of stage productions with a choice of different possible camera positions and angles that can be switched between in real time. It also offers premium features that can boost the prices of virtual tickets, such as 4K resolution, live chat features, and programs that simulate the synchronized movement of fan glow sticks that add to the K-Pop show experience. Stadiums are central.
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“VenewLive gives today’s artists some of the most creative and memorable ways to globalize their art and performances to improve the community and fan experience,” said Muir.
These possibilities were demonstrated at last year’s record-breaking concerts using Kiswe’s technology developed by Big Hit’s main supergroup, seven-member sensation BTS. June’s “BANG BANG CON: The Live” set a Guinness World Record for “most viewers of a live stream of music concerts” by gathering around 756,000 paying viewers from 107 countries. In October, the band broke their own record with their two-day online concert “Map of the Soul ON: E” (see picture above), which attracted 993,000 viewers from 191 countries and territories.
“VenewLive already streamed several large-scale performances live last year and offered unique, impressive fan concert experiences that can be offered through our cutting-edge technologies such as multi-views with six angles, 4K resolution and various interactive functions,” KBYK Live explained CEO John Lee. “Our technology will be the foundation for fans to feel closer to artists and to help artists express their energy on a digital stage.”
The willingness of UMG and YG to get involved on the platform is a vote of confidence in Big Hit’s technologically advanced entertainment approach.
“Big Hit’s attempts to maximize the fan experience are not limited to entertainment, but also [extend to the implementation] of different technologies, ”said the company’s global CEO, Lenzo Yoon, that VenewLive is part of this effort. “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 possible way under all circumstances.”
He added, “We will continue to explore how new technology … can have a positive impact on enhancing our fan experience and actively adopt it.”
At the end of last month, Big Hit announced that it would invest around US $ 63 million in YG subsidiary YG PLUS and improve the online fan community platform WeVerse by connecting it to the South Korean Google equivalent, the search engine Naver. The latter is investing 320 million US dollars in the big hit subsidiary beNX, which developed the proprietary WeVerse app.
The cloud-based video company Kiswe has offices in New York, London, Hasselt, Seoul and Singapore. It was founded by its current chairman Jeong Kim – a board member of Samsung, co-owner of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, and former president of Bell Labs – and its chief architect Wim Sweldens, former president of French telecommunications Alcatel-Lucent Wireless and founder, Alcatel Lucent Ventures. The current CEO and President of Kiswe, Mike Schabel, is also from Alcatel-Lucent, where he was previously General Manager of the Small Cells business.
“We have been developing video streaming and fan engagement technology since 2013 and look forward to using them [it] to [help artists] extend beyond the boundaries of a stadium [and] perform in front of their global fans and so that these fans have the feeling of being part of the concert, ”said Schabel.
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