In November 2019, Avex announced their acquisition of LIVESTAR, a company that provides agents for and manages the careers of content creators, focusing primarily on livestreamers. LIVESTAR continues to push towards becoming a stronger and stronger presence when it comes to expanding their business into the social media landscape. We sat down with LIVESTAR CEO Shotaro Nishimura and Avex executive Shinsuke Kato, head of the company’s new business development division, to talk about the future of LIVESTAR.
Discovering the Next Big Personality:
Before we get into our main discussion, we’d like to take a quick look back on Avex’s foray into the world of individual internet content creators. We’ve previously written about the vision that Mr. Kato and the CEO of Avex Management Mr. Tsuzuki shared when it came to acquiring this kind of content through the acquisition of the companies Mackey and TWH. Looking back on the six months that’ve passed since then, Mr. Kato told us he feels that “coordination between the two companies has given birth to a kind reciprocal synergy between them, and personally I feel that all that’s left for them to do is to move into the phase where they start showing results.” Taking that into consideration, what does the acquisition of LIVESTAR mean for Mr. Kato and Mr. Tsuzuki’s companies?
Kato “If we are going to improve our ability to create popular figures that fit in a new age and create content and artists that are more diverse than we’ve understood them to be in the past, I’d want to go about creating those with companies and personnel in tandem that have ideas about that and whose strengths fit those goals. Speaking from the standpoint of LIVESTAR having joined up with us, I think that it’s really all about how we have a solid organization forming around us that allows us to start going after the things we should be pursuing.”
Nishimura “As LIVESTAR, a company working to really enliven the live streaming market, we think that it is very important to produce standout players and make sure they receive the support they need. For instance, in the world of Youtubers, I think that Hikakin is a kind of symbolic presence. It felt to me like, when dealing with the livestreaming industry and the wide variety of different performers therein, that the structure of management agencies is rather complicated, and that coordinating with players important to the influencer landscape would be essential, the kind that could give way to a kind of management synergy. So, while I was thinking about that, Avex came to speak with me about the merger, I thought that if we were to combine their knowhow when it comes to managing content creators with our techniques in terms of nurturing livestreamers, that we would be able to produce the kind of synergy that allowed us to be even more poised to invigorate the livestreaming market and produce more star players.”
the Appeal of “Realtime”:
How Does One Value Communication?
Mr. Nishimura founded LIVESTAR a year and a half ago. The company is focused on managing individual content creators, especially focusing on livestreamers; nurturing their livestreaming talent; and working in livestreaming commerce. According to the Media Consumption Trends and Behavior 2019 Survey, about 30% of teens and 25% of those in their twenties use a video sharing service for livestreaming, and the scope of those figures is only expected to grow. But what are livestreamers, and what constitutes the domain of livestreaming? When talking about the characteristics of these points and how to monetize them, the key word is “communication.” Source：https://www.soumu.go.jp/main_content/000644168.pdf
Nishimura “To define a livestreamer in the most abstract terms would be to say that they are people that communicate reciprocally with an audience during a live broadcast; they’re performers that invigorate the audience in that manner. In addition to just communicating with them, the audience can directly comment on what the livestreamer is doing and send them gifts. We call those people that allow them to make a living “providers.” So, while there are a variety of platforms available for individuals to broadcast right now, I think that the advertising models of platforms such as Youtube and Instagram differ from the values and business models of that of the media. Livestreaming is “live,” so the way that the audience experiences it and enjoys it is totally different. It’s not about which is better or worse, but simply that the experience via the service is different, so we look at it in a different light.”
That said, how do livestreamers themselves view this kind of domain? A livestreamer himself and also a founding member of LIVESTAR, Ryoyan manages nurturing livestreamers for the company. Miura Myura is another member of LIVESTAR and is a livestreamer who posts videos of herself eating enormous meals who has also gained popualrity as a Youtuber. The two of them break down what it is people look for in a livestream video as well as what the value of livestreaming is.
Ryoyan “I think that livestreaming is a service where people’s value really come out. I myself, as a livestreamer who tries to liven up my viewers’ day, use props to try and make my audience laugh, and do “talk and chill” streams sometimes to hear what my viewers have to say. But I think that livestreamers form an emotional bond or connection with the people that watch them. I think that they’re people you want to support, those who personify a kind of value that can’t be seen with the eye, so I’ve dug out my niche in the livestreamer-sphere as someone who tries to bring energy and happiness to those who watch me.”
Miura “I want my streams to be kind of like a convenience store: a place that you just want to drop into. Once you get used to livestreaming, you start thinking about things like, “What was behind that comment that person made?” or “What are the people who aren’t commenting thinking?” or “What is this person like?” Your viewers are people you communicate with every day, and I think that kind of relationship is something akin to family.”
Ryoyan “I think that livestreaming provides the unique experience where even though you’re speaking to your viewers three to four hours a day, while meeting them in person may be difficult, you can still use social media to speak easily with them without choosing a specific place to meet. Anything the viewer says can change the flow of the conversation, and seeing a culture among your community grow is fascinating. I feel like livestreaming is a kind of documentary.”
Nishimura “People get so happy they shed tears, argue so much that they develop into legitimate fights. The whole fabric of human relationships is there. To me, that’s entertaining and one of the points in livestreaming’s favor. Also, characteristic of livestreaming is the sense of unity that develops between the streamer and their fans. Even if they organize an off-line meet-up, the viewers are all already good friends. After that, some viewers may go on to participate in the marketplace themselves, and you can probably say there are more and more who are going on to become performers themselves, which I believe makes it a market where you can really see a lot of growth potential.”
Ryoyan, who works cultivating livestreamers, went on to tell us about how LIVESTAR joining up with Avex has increased the scale of what the company is able to achieve and how they anticipate future developments within the streaming market.
Ryoyan “Looking at the scale of the market, I think that there is a lot of potential there and there’s a certain amount of reassurance I feel with having Avex there to discuss things with. When it comes to LIVESTAR team members, when somebody goes to an event, the people there are always so friendly that you can’t help but smile. I think that’s a huge strength for them as an agency, and I think that to actually materialize that atmosphere is more difficult than you’d think. People share that mentality, and livestreaming is a community where a variety of different things are extolled, so I think it would be great if the market grows and we are able to make our viewers happy.”
Nishimura “Yes. We’ve been working to expand the market since starting the company, and I’m able to say that we’ve always been able to get along with people at the agency. I think the fact that we were able to build that kind of community is linked to LIVESTAR’s strengths, and I’d like to maintain that kind of quality.”
Ryoyan “The way that livestreamers work fits with this generation, and I think that anyone has the potential to do it. On flip side, it’s difficult to keep it going and there are those who may worry about career prospects down the line, but I believe there’s a future in it and it’s the kind of environment that really lets people shine.”
Miura “I think that we livestreamers can really work at the forefront to invigorate the livestreaming industry. For instance, instead of going on Twitter to get information about natural disasters, people might open livestreaming apps and get detailed information on places from all throughout the country. I think if people could bring it to the forefront like that it would be great.”
Ryoyan “People say that from here on out it’s all about using artificial intelligence, but I think it’s only human to want to get close to people, and I think that anyone has the potential to provide support to others. That’s what I think gives livestreaming the kind of unlimited potential it has, and that if people give it a chance they’ll definitely enjoy the experience. I feel there’s great potential in the future of that market.”
From Different Fields:
Shooting for being
an Industry Leader
LIVESTAR, the livestreamer startup and management agency built around its members’ knowhow, next looks to expand their overall influence to other platforms and produce a popular personalities that can take up the mantle of the company. Mr. Nishimura goes on to discuss the company’s mission.
Nishimura “I think that when an individual’s influence expands, the result is that a lot of businesses are born around and expand from that influence, so I’d like to really invest in our social media managerial department and work to cultivate individuals that have the power to influence others. However, in a service structure that revolves around communication, I feel that a problem is that it’s difficult for there to be popular personalities with wide ranging appeal. To deal with that, I think it’d be good for us to make use of all sorts of different platforms and to try to produce a number of individuals with influence.”
Kato “In Japan right now, all the different platforms are quite segregated, but I’m sure that eventually there will be those who manage to bridge the gaps. At this point, those we call livestreamers are already using services such as Tiktok and trying to engage more with their viewers on Youtube; these kinds of things are simply taken as a given for livestreamers, so I think that a new type of comprehensive multi-platform has the possibility to come about. Everything at this point is split up to help make things easier to comprehend, between the realms of livestreaming and video content creators, but in the long term I think those kinds of notions will fade, so we also need to be looking at prepping ourselves to create personalities that can function in new media and the net-sphere as a whole.”
Nishimura “Prevailing sentiment says using platforms well and improving overall influence goes along with what’s trending, but I think that it will be the names of the individuals that will hold the most influence at the end of the day. That’s the kind of future we see, and are using that vision to figure out how we will build our managerial capabilities moving forward.”
Kato “Looking at it from another perspective, the kind of knowhow that they’ve accumulated at LIVESTAR right now allows them to excel at interacting and communicating with platform users, improving the quality of entertainment, and growing fanbases. If you’re talking about Makey, she excels at putting her videos up on Youtube and getting fans that way. At Avex Entertainment, we have a powerful kind of knowhow gained from managing artists. In other words, I think it’s not about working each platform differently, but rather that the way knowhow is accumulated is different for each platform. I think that we need to combine those kinds of knowhow to create personalities that fit with the coming future, that’s where I believe we should be.”
But what kind of next gen standout players will come about from the confluence of knowhow that each company has fostered? Mr. Nishimura and Mr. Kato are setting their sights on what they need to achieve at that time starting from where they are now.
Nishimura “I think that anyone that has a fundamental drive to increase their scope of influence, anyone with that kind of passion has the chance to do so, and I’d like those people to join us at LIVESTAR. We pride ourselves on creating facilities that allow people to achieve that. Someday I hope that our company is the industry standard, and that the general atmosphere is that people would like to join us at LIVESTAR. That’s what I think… err, rather, that’s what I hope.”
Kato “I think that everyone should be frank about wanting to be number one in their chosen field of business. Going after that with a pure mindset will allow people the means to change their business strategies or portfolios, to be flexible regardless of whether the markets or platforms change. We understand and empathize with the desires that await in the areas livestreamers are working, so we want them to be frank about pursuing those goals first and foremost. If they do that, no matter how the markets or platforms change, I feel they’ll be able to build a positive future for themselves.”
Livestreaming: a field that has untold potential and expected value. We’re excited to how the preparations that Avex and LIVESTAR are making will allow them to help bring about the big stars in the next generation.
Group Corporate Executive