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Streaming platform Mahocast eyes listing on Japan's Mothers market

Mahocast, dubbed as Japan's Netflix for concerts, aims to smooth Korean musicians' foray into Japan

By Sep 07, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

STONE.B CEOs Kim Woo-jae (left) and Cho Yoon-sang
STONE.B CEOs Kim Woo-jae (left) and Cho Yoon-sang

TOKYO -- Japan-based concert streaming platform Mahocast, dubbed as the Netflix for concerts in Japan, is gaining attention as a venue for both musicians and fans that have been deprived of concerts due to the global pandemic.

Mahocast is an online concert venue that has hosted over 3,000 live concerts since its launch in May 2019. The platform rose to fame when it hosted concerts for the popular Japanese rock group Chage and Aska as well as Enka singer Sayuri Ishikawa. Some 1,300 musicians are featured on the platform, including around 20 Korean bands.

Mahocast is operated by STONE.B Inc., a company founded by South Korean entrepreneurs Kim Woo-jae, an IT expert who worked as an IT system engineer for 15 years in Japan, and Cho Yoon-sang, a seasoned marketer who served as the communications director at the Korea Exchange.

The two co-founders took note of the content market transitioning from a video-oriented segment to a live streaming landscape. This prompted Kim and Cho to seize the opportunity and launch Mahocast, making concerts the mainstay of the platform since Japan was still considerably behind in the video streaming scene despite having an active live house, or live music club, culture.

A behind-the-scenes photo from Mahocast's live streaming event
A behind-the-scenes photo from Mahocast's live streaming event

AN ALL-IN-ONE PLATFORM FOR MUSICIANS

A number of streaming services are available in Japan including YouTube, Niconico and Showroom. Even large business groups such as Sony Entertainment have jumped into the streaming platform market following the COVID-19 crisis.

But STONE.B was able to survive the competition against IT giants and content behemoths because Mahocast delivered new services that had previously not been available in the music scene, according to the co-founders.

Mahocast's bigger rivals such as Sony and YouTube borrow services from the US-based streaming platform Vimeo to host live concerts and it's hard for them to add additional features because it's not their own platform.  

But Mahocast is STONE.B’s own platform, meaning that there's flexibility when it comes to adding various features. For example, STONE.B plans to add services such as virtual reality (VR) streaming, 1:1 real-time messaging between musicians and fans as well as a live commerce function where users can purchase simiilar items or clothes as those worn by the musicians during their live concerts.

“There are many platforms that offer streaming services, but Mahocast is the only platform where musicians can distribute their music, manage their fans and even perform live -- all in one venue," said Cho.

Japanese rock band Kuusouiinkai held a concert on Mahocast after announcing their reunion.
Japanese rock band Kuusouiinkai held a concert on Mahocast after announcing their reunion.

Mahocast was also the first platform in Japan to adopt an online pay-per-view service named "net ticket." The ticket price is similar to the entrance fee of live houses, ranging between 2,500 yen to 3,500 yen ($32).

Mahocast has been posting strong sales via net ticket. Unlike offline concerts, there is zero cost that goes into renting a venue or hiring staff members, which means all the revenue for ticket sales translates into net profit for the company. This is also how Mahocast continues to make a profit while other platform businesses that rely on user numbers remain in deficit.

This year, the company expects its revenue to top 500 million yen ($4.5 million). – just three years since launching its service. It is also looking to raise around 300 million yen via a Series A funding round.

STONE.B also has an initial public offering in mind. In July 2024, the company aims to make a trading debut on Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers, a startup-heavy market similar to Korea's KONEX.

AIDING KOREAN MUSICIANS' ENTRY INTO JAPAN

STONE.B is particularly committed to aiding Korean musicians’ foray into Japan, not an easy market to break into if the musicians aren't part of a large entertainment company backed with funding and marketing power.

But the co-CEOs are confident that Korean musicians will be able to thrive in Japan via Mahocast, supported by the Japanese entertainment industry's growing interest in K-pop.

"We want to serve as a channel for K-pop musicians to enter the Japanese music scene. On our platform, popular musicians can make more money and unknown artists can make a name for themselves," said Kim.

Write to Yeong-hyo Jeong at hugh@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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