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Universal Music Group Licenses Catalog to Equinox At-Home Fitness App Variis

Vivendi SE ’s Universal Music Group has licensed the world’s largest music catalog to Equinox Holdings Inc.’s Variis digital fitness app, allowing users to work out at home to hits by Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and the Weeknd.

The agreement comes as the music industry increasingly looks to new partners across social media, videogames and fitness for revenue beyond streaming. The pandemic has accelerated the growth of at-home fitness apps, which have relied on music as a draw to live-streamed and on-demand classes led by remote instructors—who have become much like influencers and DJs in their own right.

While streaming on music services like Spotify and Apple Music has increased during pandemic lockdowns, closed venues, restaurants and retailers where music is played, as well as the pause on touring and live shows, has weighed on the music business. At the same time, videogaming, social video on apps like TikTok and digital fitness have taken off—each with opportunities labels, publishers and other copyright owners are eyeing for music.

The digital fitness market has taken off with Peloton Interactive Inc.’s stationary bikes, Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s purchase of Mirror, Apple Inc.’s introduction of Fitness+, as well as upstarts like Supernatural VR and Hydrow.

Equinox launched its Variis mobile app in March, giving its bricks-and-mortar gym members free access to virtual classes just as stay-at-home orders and lockdown restrictions were sweeping through cities across the country. It also began selling its SoulCycle at-home bikes for $2,500. In October, Variis became nationally commercially available to nonmembers for $40 a month.

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