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BTS label Big Hit Entertainment inks broad partnership with streaming tech company Kiswe

The town of New Providence, N.J. may seem like an unlikely home for a company that’s just inked a new deal with Big Hit Entertainment (the label behind the global K-pop supergroup BTS) and raised tens of millions of dollars from some of the largest venture capital firms in the United States, but Kiswe Mobile is proof that valuable startups can come from anywhere.

Founded in 2013 and led by chief executive, Mike Schabel, Kiswe Mobile is now extending its relationship with Big Hit from a one-time show in early December to an agreement that will extend well beyond the next BTS gig in what the two companies described as a “global partnership”.

Schabel declined to disclose any terms of the partnership agreement but said that it was more than a simple business contract between the two entities.

For the past seven years Kiswe has worked with some of the biggest sports and entertainment leagues in the U.S., including the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and the Professional Golf Association on streaming live events. In recent years the company has added eSports  to its roster — and live events including that December BTS show.

Founded by former President of Bell Labs, Jeong Kim, along with Wim Sweldens and Jimmy Lynn back in 2013, Kiswe Mobile offers a streaming service that has four different components that live entertainment needs to get back on track in the post-COVID era of social distancing.

The company’s technology offers a central production system for concert producers to process video and audio,  multi-camera and interactive viewing options for fans watching the show to communicate with the live performers and each other, and presenting it exclusively by either geo-location or through ticketing.

“This MOU opens the possibility for diversified innovation in the global market by combining Big Hit’s content planning know-how and Kiswe’s technology, said Big Hit chief executive Lenzo Yoon, in a statement.

Behind all of this technology are a number of high profile investors including New Enterprise Associates, the multi-billion venture capital firm based outside of Balitmore. Other investors include Revolution, the Washington, DC-based investment firm founded by Steve Case; Ted Leonsis, a co-founder of Revolution and the founder of Monumental Sports Group, and company founder Jeong Kim.

The company has raised well over $20 million in financing since its launch in 2013, but Schabel declined to disclose the total amount the company raised.

The Big Hit deal is meant to serve a precursor to the launch of a new BTS Concert and convention called “BANG BANG CON The Live” later this month.

That show is, itself, a prelude to more interactive events from Big Hit’s roster of talent powered by Kiswe Mobile.

Technologies like Kiswe’s are arriving at a time when live events need them the most. The recent Travis Scott Fortnite experience, and Marshmello’s earlier turn behind the virtual wheels of steel in Epic Games’ breakout hit are among a number of new technologies that are looking to bring at least some of the magic of shared experiences and entertainment to fans that are hungry for it.

Several startups are taking this moment to push interactive live experiences for audiences. They include the virtual concert design and distribution platform, WaveXR; the interactive streaming service, Caffeine, and development firms like Zoan, which created a virtual concert experience for Helsinki’s May Day celebrations that brought a crowd of 1 million.

Kiswe’s deal with Big Hit arguably taps into the biggest, and most rabid fo the music industry’s fanbases by reaching the members of the BTS Army.

As Schabel acknowledged in a statement, “Kiswe’s relationship with Big Hit Entertainment expands our huge global sports and media footprint into the music sector and allows Kiswe and Big Hit to explore new ventures in the industry.”

Watch BTS perform in sweatpants on James Corden, deliver sweet message to fans

Watch BTS perform in sweatpants on James Corden, deliver sweet message to fans

South Korean boy group and unstoppable force BTS joined Papa Mochi James Corden via video on Monday, performing hit song ‘Boy With Luv (feat. Halsey)’ from their shared social distance. The coronavirus pandemic may have suspended studio production, but the Late Late Show must go on.

“I think it’s quite a difficult time for everyone in the world right now,” leader RM told Corden from Big Hit Entertainment in South Korea. All Corden’s guests on HomeFest: A Late Late Show Special appeared via video, while he recorded from his home.

“It may seem like we’re isolated but we’re still connected through our shared experiences, courage, and laughter.” Read more…

More about Music, James Corden, Bts, The Late Late Show With James Corden, and Bangtan Boys

BTS ‘Carpool Karaoke’ just dropped and it’s every bit as glorious as we’d hoped

BTS 'Carpool Karaoke' just dropped and it's every bit as glorious as we'd hoped

It’s finally here, folks. The big one. 

BTS Carpool Karaoke was first teased last week, in a tweet showing Corden packed into a vehicle with all seven members of the unstoppable K-pop boyband (RM, of course, sat up front) — and now we have the full episode itself.

In the 17-minute video above, we see BTS attempting to sing the Friends theme song, more successfully singing Bruno Mars’ “Finesse,” and Corden doing his best to become part of the band. Then to cap it all off, the group stop by a dance class after “Baby Mochi” Jimin says he wants to see “Papa Mochi” Corden dance.

The stakes were high, but BTS have, once again, more than delivered. Read more…

More about James Corden, Carpool Karaoke, Bts, The Late Late Show With James Corden, and Entertainment

BTS and Jimmy Fallon playing party games is silly, chaotic fun

BTS and Jimmy Fallon playing party games is silly, chaotic fun

Monday’s episode of the Tonight Show saw K-pop group BTS join Jimmy Fallon for a round of Subway Olympics, playing several games that probably won’t appear in the real Olympics any time soon. These included Protect the Duck, in which players attempted to knock a rubber duck off each other’s hand, and Dance Your Shades and Gloves Off, which was exactly what it sounds like. 

It was predictably chaotic, with J-Hope accidentally slapping Jin in the face at one point, but it wouldn’t be BTS playing games without some silly antics. There was even a bit of cheeky cheating, with Jimin sneakily sticking Post-Its on Jungkook well after time was up. Read more…

More about The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon, Bts, Kpop, and Bangtan Boys

K-pop group BTS just smashed another world-first

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Aside from being very good at the music thing, Korean pop kings BTS are smashing records.

The group’s album Love Yourself: Tear will debut at number one on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart for the week of Jun. 2, becoming the first K-pop group to do so.

“It’s the first No. 1 for the seven-member group, and the first K-pop album to lead the tally,” according to Billboard’s announcement

The Billboard 200 chart ranks albums based on traditional album sales, downloads and streamsLove Yourself: Tear unseats Post Malone’s beerbongs & bentleys, which sat on top of the chart for three consecutive weeks and now drops to number two.  Read more…

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