Vice, Live Nation to Start Digital Music Site Next Year

Unnamed Service to Feature Hundreds of Hours of Original Video Programming

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Vice Media CEO Shane Smith.
Vice Media CEO Shane Smith. Credit: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Vice's digital-media empire is expanding further into music.

Vice has teamed up with concert giant Live Nation to create a free, ad-supported music property on the web, on mobile devices and on TV. The unnamed venture, which will go live next year, will feature original shows as well as live event streams.

Live Nation had been looking to develop a music-related content property, and its CEO Michael Rapino bumped into Vice CEO Shane Smith about a year ago and decided to develop the property together, Mr. Rapino said during a briefing with reporters in Beverly Hills on Wednesday.

"As big of a white space as there is for news, there's an even bigger white space for music," Mr. Smith said, nodding to the company's entry into the news space with Vice News earlier this year. He added, "MTV -- Music Television -- stopped making music television, so there's a massive white space."

MTV has actually been out of the music-video game for so many years now that others have already moved in. The Fuse and Revolt cable networks show music videos on traditional TV, while Vevo, YouTube and Pitchfork have become important hubs for music on the web.

Vice itself already has Noisey, an online music channel with videos, live concerts and original programming. And Live Nation, too, earlier this year kicked off a year-long series of 365 live-streamed concerts on the Live National Channel on Yahoo Screen.

Into this "massive white space," Vice and Live Nation plan to add original series, films and live events totaling hundreds of hours of original video programming.

The Live Nation site will be more tightly focused on mainstream acts and have more live programming than Noisey, Vice said.

Mr. Smith wouldn't say whether the companies have any syndication deals signed, but said the companies are looking to bring the joint venture's content to other digital services like YouTube and Yahoo as well as mobile carriers like Verizon and TV networks.

The venture's dedicated properties will also feature daily articles and news coverage related to the music business. But that static content will likely take a backseat to the original video programming.

"Original programs are the secret sauce that differentiate the offering," Mr. Rapino said, adding that Vice and Live Nation will stream "a bunch of tentpole events like festivals or certain [concert] shows."

Planned programming includes "Earthworks," which relates music with nature by bringing performers to places like Jamaica; "Hometown Heroes," featuring how-they-got-their-start stories by artists like A$AP Rocky; a music variety show pairing bands such as Arcade Fire with comedians like James Franco and Michael Cera; and another program that will film music videos as live events and involve Spike Jonze and MIA.

Vice and Live Nation also plan to produce tour-related content such as feature films.

The service will feature standard ad types like banners and pre-roll video ads, but the companies are also looking to secure sponsorship deals for their programs. Both companies will work together on marketing, sales and sponsorship deals, while Vice will be responsible for content creation and programming.

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