Explainer-What is Weverse, 'super app' joined by Ariana Grande?


FILE PHOTO: Ariana Grande poses at the Met Gala in New York City, New York, U.S., May 6, 2024. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - Pop star Ariana Grande is joining Weverse, a superfan platform owned by HYBE, an entertainment firm that manages K-Pop phenomenon BTS.

Here is what we know about Weverse and why more pop stars around the world are joining the app.

WHAT IS THE WEVERSE APP?

Weverse is an app that specializes in interaction between artists and fans. Artists on the app write posts, livestream and sell merchandise. HYBE described Weverse as a 'super app' that also offers machine translation in 15 languages.

When Jin, the oldest member of BTS, spoke to fans on Wednesday after finishing his 18-month-long military duty, his initial livestream crashed before resuming and racking up more than 2 million views in 10 minutes.

Released in 2019, the app had more than 10 million monthly active users on average in the third quarter of 2023, according to HYBE. Nine of 10 Weverse users are international.

WHY IS ARIANA GRANDE JOINING WEVERSE?

Grande will join the app after signing a partnership with HYBE America, the entertainment firm said on Friday, without providing further details.

Her channel is yet to launch, and HYBE declined to confirm the opening date.

HYBE America, which also manages Justin Bieber and The Kid LAROI, will also continue cooperation with Grande's cosmetics brand R.E.M Beauty, the company added.

The new partnership comes after Billboard reported last year that Grande was parting ways with manager Scooter Braun, who she had been with since her debut in 2013. Braun is now the CEO of HYBE America after a $1.05 billion merger deal in 2021 between HYBE and the music executive's Ithaca Holdings.

The announcement of Grande's partnership was met with amusement from K-Pop fans online.

"Ariana unnie" one fan said on X, referring to her with a Korean honorific for older sister.

Japanese pop duo Yoasobi, who attended a state dinner at the White House with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in April, also opened their channel on Weverse earlier this month.

WHAT DOES HYBE SEEK TO GAIN?

In a 2022 interview, Weverse President Joon Choi told Reuters that the platform's users are "superfans characterised by passionate engagement."

"They bought merch here, watched videos there, communicated elsewhere ... We didn't have a database of our customers. So, we began developing each service in-house," he said in the interview.

The app's growth comes against the backdrop of HYBE's efforts to expand as a label including its acquisition of Exile Music, a music label of Spanish language media company Exile Content, in its first major foray into the Latin music market.

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim and Joyce Lee; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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