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Universal Licenses Entire Music Catalog For Fitness App

In yet another sign of the momentous changes in the music licensing industry, Universal Music Group has licensed its entire music catalog to the Variis digital fitness app.

The deal means app users will be able to work out at home to the music of major recording artists like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and many more. It also marks one of the early deals in a game-changing trend which has seen music publishers and labels greatly expand their concept of where synchronous music licensing can go. Over the past year the industry has seen major labels signing licensing deals with social media networks like TikTok, and with video game publishers, as a way to expand revenue far beyond the world of streaming.

At the same time, artists have seen the value of their music catalogs skyrocketing over the past four years, with songwriters like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Imagine Dragons, the Killers, and many more signing deals worth in excess of $100 million.

As the music industry increasingly looks to new partners across social media and videogames, the COVID-19 pandemic has massively increased the uptake of home fitness apps, many of which rely on music to draw in participants for canned and live fitness classes. In many cases, fitness influencers have become DJs, and increasingly are becoming hitmakers in their own right.

Deals in these new arenas also help make up for losses from streaming revenue as the pandemic has shut down restaurants, retail outlets and nightclubs, not to mention live concerts or tours.

Equinox Media launched its Variis mobile app in March, giving Equinox gym members free access to virtual classes as lockdowns or stay-at-home orders were being enacted around the world. The Variis app became nationally commercially available to non-members for $40 a month.

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