International

UMG, YG Invest in Big Hit’s Live-Streaming Platform

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Big Hit Entertainment/AMA2020/Getty Images

J-Hope, Suga, V, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, RM of BTS perform onstage for the 2020 American Music Awards on November 22, 2020 in South Korea.

Big Hit Entertainment, the South Korean company that lifted BTS into superstardom, is predicting its next big hit will be live streaming.

Announced Wednesday (Feb. 10), Universal Music Group and K-pop powerhouse YG Entertainment are on board as investors in KBYK Live, the joint venture formed in 2020 by Big Hit and Kiswe and which went on to launch VenewLive, its ambitious live streaming content platform.  Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

With the backing of YG and UMG, Big Hit is confident VenewLive will realize its next step: expand the offering and supercharge it with red-hot content.

Big Hit and Kiswe, the New Jersey-based video technology startup, signed an MOU on KBYK Live in May of last year, with VenewLive going live soon after, in September.

VenewLive has already tested its tech with some of the biggest streaming concerts in history, including the BTS’ 2020 BANG BANG CON The Live and MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E, with the former amassing a peak concurrent audience of 756,000 and the latter attracting a peak audience of 993,000.

Its potential for live-stream experiences, which include six-angle multi-views, 4K resolution, and interactive features, should provide new ways for artists to connect with their followers, enthuses Big Hit Global CEO Lenzo Yoon.

“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,” he comments. “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.”

The arrangement is more than money. It marries content with the technology, and brings together some of the power players in the music world.

Even prior to the pandemic, Asia was considered ahead of the game with virtual events and livestreaming. With UMG, the market-leading music company, and YG taking the leap, it's further evidence that the format is here to stay.

“We are delighted to join Big Hit, YG and Kiswe as partners in KBYK as we look to help further evolve the opportunities and live streaming experiences for UMG artists and their fans today, and into the future,” comments UMG executive VP, CFO and president of operations Boyd Muir.

This past year has “shown that the need for reliable and innovative live-streaming has never been greater,” he adds. “VenewLive offers some of the most creative and memorable opportunities for today’s artists to globalize their art and performances, tailored to enhance the community and fan-experience.”

Big Hit hasn’t stood still while the pandemic forced so many businesses in the music industry to slow or shut down.

Earlier this year, the company announced that it would invest 70 billion won ($63 million) in a subsidiary of one of its biggest competitors, fellow K-pop agency YG Entertainment, in a “strategic collaboration” meant to create synergy by leveraging artist IPs in a wide range of ventures.