Multicultural Agency Is Betting Fans Will ‘Watch the Throne‘ for $5 a Month
The multicultural ad agency GlobalHue is betting they will.
Voyr, the latest concept from the agency’s incubator, GHV, is set to launch Sept. 15 on the back of a forthcoming 35-city tour supporting the new album from Mr. West and Jay-Z, “Watch the Throne.” Viewers will be able to follow the tour live via webcasts for $3.99, but the normal subscription rate will be $4.99 per month for each star that appears on the online platform.
At a press conference Monday at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Chief Creative Officer Kevyn Lewis said that over time, the site will add celebs from all walks of life — musicians, writers, directors, even one to appeal to hunting and fishing fans. The idea is offer up the kind of content that will inspire people, not tabloid-fodder pulled from the artists’ personal lives.
Though Mr. West is the first announced star, Mr. Lewis said that neither Kanye nor Jay-Z has a stake in the company, which is wholly-owned by GHV. Still, it’s pretty clear that Mr. West has been very involved in the conception of the company — and stands to benefit if the site can attract subscribers, though how much so wasn’t clear as Mr. Lewis didn’t get into the specifics of how artists would be compensated.
Stuff that will be available on his channel: his exercise routine; what he eats on tour and instructional videos about how to prepare those items by his personal chef; a “720-degree” concert experience; rehearsals for the show; a documentary about Kanye called — appropriately — “Me”; and his animated series called “Runaway.”
Possibly more interesting are ideas for the platform GlobalHue presented to Mr. West that the notoriously fussy artist struck down. These include allowing fans to vote on set designs or allowing marketers to sponsor specific episodes. Mr. Lewis said Mr. West, ever the auteur, slammed those ideas, saying he doesn’t need the popular vote to make decisions and the idea of, say, a McDonald’s powering that sort of voting power with the push of an “I’m loving it” button was a “piece of a crap.”
There will be hopefully less crappy attempts at partnerships with brands down the road, including ones with retailers such as Target or Walmart to provide exclusive merchandise. But for now the company is focused on ramping up its suite of talent. It was unclear who else is signed on, but names dropped during the presentation included Oprah and Elton John.
Why would these celebs turn to Voyr when they already have web presences of their own? The hope is that through scale — building a lot of different celebrity presences — Voyr will be able to get down the cost and make the process of relentlessly spraying one’s giant ego all over the web more efficient. There will be a lot of other challenges for Voyr, including the always vexing problem of building an audience when your content is locked down, and figuring out pricing options that appeal to people other than superfans, like a one-off charge. And then there are older, bigger, freer sites such as YouTube and Vevo as well as the paid StageIt.
At least in theory, Voyr shouldn’t have a hard time getting attention if it can deploy its talent as it did Monday, treating journalists to a listening party for “Watch the Throne.” After the press conference, the journos filed into the Hayden Planetarium to hear the entire album played while Journey to the Stars, a rather gorgeous and inherently trippy romp through the solar system, played over head. Stars were all over the place, though as the party was attended by Kanye, Jay-Z, his wife, Beyonce, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Kelly Rowland and Jada Pinkett Smith, who, in the elevator on the way out, was practically screaming about how she needed the album. “NOW!”