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Live Nation, Vice Media announce plans for music-themed platform

Live Nation, Vice Media announce plans for music-themed platform
Shane Smith, co-founder and chief executive of Vice Media Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco last month. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)

Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and Vice Media announced on Wednesday the launch of a new music-themed video service for mobile phones, Internet and TV.

The platform, which will begin rolling out in 2015, will feature original artist-driven content, live digital music experiences, in-depth documentaries and daily editorial content.

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"Today the content world is in upheaval, with new brands being created in real time, and mainstream media seeing its audience migrate in record numbers," Shane Smith, founder and CEO of Vice, said in a statement. "It's this de-stratification of the status quo that we find so exciting, because that, combined with the lack of any real quality music programming out there, equals one hell of an opportunity."

The deal with Live Nation taps into Vice's roots from its days as an underground, music-focused magazine. 

This is the latest deal for Vice, which has received a pair of recent major investments, including $250 million from Silicon Valley's Technology Crossover Ventures in September to help it expand.

That followed a $250-million infusion from A+E Networks, which is owned by Hearst and the Walt Disney Co. A+E owns cable networks A&E and History Channel, which carry, respectively, shows such as "Duck Dynasty" and "Pawn Stars." 

The deals valued the company, which began as an edgy Montreal culture magazine in 1994, at about $2.5 billion. Last year, Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox paid $70 million for a 5% stake in Vice. 

Over the years, the Brooklyn-based company has expanded into television and movie production, advertising, digital media and book publishing. It also has a record label.

Vice currently makes a weekly half-hour show for Time Warner Inc.'s paid TV network HBO that covers news, culture and politics around the world. 

Since its Canadian beginnings 20 years ago, Vice has tried to maintain its image as an alternative to mainstream media outlets, appealing to the young, heavily tattooed crowd, while doing deals with mass media giants.

Its new partner, Live Nation, is a music industry juggernaut, responsible for the tours of artists such as husband-and-wife duo Jay Z and Beyonce, boy band One Direction and country star Luke Bryan. It also owns the ticketing company Ticketmaster. 

“Shane and the Vice organization have proven to be the voice of this generation,"  Michael Rapino, Live Nation's chief executive, said in a statement. "Together with Live Nation’s platform, we are positioned to become the voice of live music by developing an artist-centric, 24/7 global music destination that enables artists to bring their creative vision to life in a new and rich online and mobile music ecosystem."

Live Nation last month reported third-quarter sales of $2.5 billion, up 11% from the same period a year ago. Its net income more than doubled year over year.

It has previously made efforts to expand its reach on the Internet, having made a deal with Yahoo to live-stream a concert a day for 100 days on the Web. The company has not said how many people tuned in to watch the shows.

Shares of Live Nation on Wednesday mid-day were at $26.04, down 0.31%.

For more entertainment business coverage, follow Ryan Faughnder @rfaughnder and Saba Hamedy @saba_h on Twitter.

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