“We really needed to create an additional brand that indicates we’re not just about dance anymore,” said CEO Amanda Taylor, who founded the New York-based company with partners Madonna, Guy Oseary and Machinima chairman Allen DeBevoise.
While dance and choreography will continue under the DanceOn banner, the company has been increasingly creating music entertainment beyond its original purview. For example, DanceOn produced a music video campaign for Silento’s single “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” one of the top-trending YouTube videos in 2015. The company has existing partnerships with music labels and distributors, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, 300 Entertainment, Records and TuneCore.
“Our creative team and creator community develop programming that impacts music discovery and pop culture,” Taylor said. “Launching Izo helps us further cultivate our audience of music fans and super-serve the DanceOn creator community and audience.”
According to Tayler, the name “Izo” was inspired by “intermezzo,” a musical piece that connects different works of music together — underscoring the company’s aim of connecting audiences with popular music programming.
The big change will be in programming strategy. Content for DanceOn will become more focused on dance, while some of the more music-oriented programming will move to Izo. The new Izo brand will encompass DanceOn series including “Artist Request” and “The Edge,” and develop new music-related series. Additional offerings will include branded entertainment and emerging lines of business such as live events.
The goal is to grow Izo into an even bigger digital-video property than DanceOn, which generates about 300 million monthly views and has some 75 million subscribers and followers across multiple platforms.
“Music is by far the largest and most engaging category in digital,” said DeBevoise. “Given the demand today’s generation has to engage with and create content, it’s a natural evolution for the next major player in music programming to be, at its core, a programmer that enables and empowers fan participation.”
The company’s announcement of the new name is timed for the Digital Content NewFronts series of presentations to advertising execs in NYC. Izo is hosting an event Tuesday night on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Izo has about 40 full-time employees, including recent executive hires Karen Schuchardt (formerly with ABC) as chief revenue officer and Betty Tran (most recently with Live Nation Entertainment’s Insomniac Events) as executive VP of marketing. Investors include DeBevoise, AMC Networks, Third Wave Ventures, Plus Capital and Luminari Capital. Taylor founded DanceOn in her NYC apartment in 2010, after previously managing choreographers and dancers.
As Izo, the company’s board of directors will remain the same, comprising Taylor; DeBevoise; Paul Rehrig, AMC Networks EVP of business development; Adam Lilling, founder of Plus Capital; Nigel Lythgoe, creator of “So You Think You Can Dance”; and Daniel Leff, founder of Luminari Capital.
The company was a launch partner for Verizon’s Go90 mobile-video service, and is set to produce 25 original series for Go90 through 2017.