A few days ago V Live announced it would be ending services at the end of the year, which doesn’t come as a surprise since shuttering the service was always the intent when the HYBE/Naver app merger was announced. The point was to “integrate” things with Weverse (essentially eliminating competition), and those artists already on the app before V Live comes to an end will have their content (paid and not) transferred over.
As many have already pointed out, however, those not on Weverse are seemingly going to be left high and dry with all the content (including paid stuff) disappearing into the ether. HYBE have essentially replied to these concerns by telling Mashable that the companies have been aware of this for a while so too bad.
In a comment to Mashable, a Weverse representative assured that artists and their companies have been given ample time to download their archives for future use elsewhere. “We have consistently informed channel operators … with full information on content backup and download for about a year,” since November 2021, they said. “We are in the process of executing content migration to Weverse,” they added, “and [are] planning to complete the process by Dec. 28, 2022. … Following the integration, non-Weverse artists’ contents will no longer be accessible to the public.” That means the content belonging to non-Weverse artists — which, in some cases, is hundreds of hours of streams — may disappear as early as Dec. 28 of this year before the app itself vanishes after the 31st.
That’s all true, but relying on companies to competently archive content, much less make it available to fans, isn’t a great bet. Furthermore, and most worryingly, the content of disbanded groups and/or those from defunct companies might not have any available options no matter how much notice was given.
Of course, there are always solutions, and I’m aware for many groups with any hint of popularity there are dedicated fans out there downloading god knows how many gigabytes of streams and hosting them elsewhere for fellow fans. Like when the catalogue of Star Empire Entertainment seemingly vanished off Spotify months ago, fans were there with a compiled archive to help out others.
That stuff is great.
But really I’m covering this more because it’s just the latest example of online services and streaming not at all being forever and simply being at the whims of corporations or even a single salty exec sometimes. While this V Live/Weverse situation already isn’t ideal, I could see it going significantly worse with another company or service in the future that has less resources, which ironically brings back to the forefront the value of having physical media to rip from.
This discourse is nothing new, but it’s another reminder that there’s no guarantee any of this digital content will exist tomorrow, and that even if you paid for something you don’t actually own any of it in reality. And quite frankly it makes pirating and archiving — especially things only digitally available — almost mandatory for fans. While I’m aware the K-pop system requires financial support if fans want their faves to survive — paying artists if you can is another discussion entirely — this problem of companies yanking digital content on a whim isn’t going away any time soon. So it’s completely justifiable for people to start taking precautions, and I find myself increasingly grateful for those who do.