HYBE eyes creator economy expansion with new THEUS superfan app

Binary Korea, a subsidiary of South Korean Entertainment giant HYBE that focuses on tech R&D including Web3 and blockchain, is launching a new fan platform for creators called THEUS.

Set to debut on June 22, the platform is a joint venture between Binary Korea and Korean digital entertainment company Sandbox Network.

Binary will be in charge of developing the app, while Sandbox will be tasked with creator related operational management, including onboarding.

Creators will each have their own dedicated “space” on THEUS.

Within these spaces, creators can upload content, engage directly with their fans through comments, live streams, and interactive features.

The new THEUS app sounds similar to HYBE’s existing Weverse superfan platform for artists and their fans.

In addition to bringing together artist-related content such as music videos, teasers, movies and live streams, Weverse also operates a merch platform called the Weverse Shop, a music player called Weverse albums,  and a K-Pop-centric music publication called Weverse Magazine.

Weverse has become very popular with K-Pop fans over the years and was cited by HYBE as being key to its success during the pandemic.

However, more recently, with the absence of BTS (as members continue their mandatory military service), Weverse saw an 18.3% YoY drop in revenue in the first quarter of 2024 to KRW 143.94 billion ($104.8 million).

The platform’s MAUs also fell to 9.2 million at the end of Q1 versus 10.1 million Monthly Active Users at the end of Q4 (the three months to end of December).

However, as BTS members start returning from the military, the app could see a significant comeback in the coming months.

According to local media reports, the app crashed yesterday (June 12) when BTS member Jin held his first live stream event after being discharged from the army earlier this week.

Weverse is also hosting more content from artists signed to labels other than HYBE toa attract more users. According to Weverse, 90% of the 120 artists currently on its platform are not signed to HYBE.

Weverse boss Joon Choi told MBW in an exclusive interview in March that Weverse has “extensive plans to expand [its] artist roster, including both established superstars and promising rising talents across various regions and genres.”

Weverse and Universal Music Group struck an experimental deal in 2020, which has seen a number of UMG artists are active on the Weverse platform, including the likes of Gracie Abrams (Interscope), Conan Gray (Republic), Jeremy Zucker (Republic), and Alexander 23 (Interscope).

In March, HYBE struck an expanded long-term agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG), which will see UMG investing in Weverse. Sources told MBW that UMG has made a minority investment in Weverse as part of the new alliance.

On Wednesday (June 12), representatives for superstar artist Ariana Grande confirmed to MBW that the singer is set to join Weverse.

(A recent MBW Reacts article asked if Weverse could offer a template for Universal’s courting of ‘superfans’ in 2024.

Following the news about the new THEUS platform, it will be interesting to see if HYBE could replicate the Weverse template in other sectors adjacent to the msuic industry.

“THEUS will continue to welcome additional creators and introduce new features based on their feedback. We look forward to THEUS growing into a thriving playground for creators and their fans.”

Sungmin Kim, Binary Korea

The new THEUS platform has already undergone a beta testing phase since March, attracting over 20,000 users and a roster of Korean creators like Dotty, Yell sister, Ddo_Ddo Couple, Anunu, and Angg Zzing.

With the official launch, an additional 10 creators, including CheezeFilm, Just1min, and Shin Sajang, are slated to join, expanding the total creator roster to 120.

“THEUS will continue to welcome additional creators and introduce new features based on their feedback. We look forward to THEUS growing into a thriving playground for creators and their fans,” said Sungmin Kim, CEO of Binary Korea.

Music Business Worldwide

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