A Deeper Look into NEXAS and Its Quest to Build a New VTuber Economy

We take a deep dive into a new VTuber group called NEXAS – its vision, challenges and actions.

As part of our coverage on vertical streaming – first mentioned to our newsletter readers – we are putting VTuber group NEXAS on the Spotlight, chronicling their first months in the scene.

On this piece, we go through the group's journey on establishing a new VTuber ecosystem, the challenges it faces, and its footprint in the competitive and ever-evolving VTuber scene.

Kickstarting Operations

Singapore-based NEXAS ramped up its operations following a successful funding round backed by angel investors, some who have invested in key Japanese players.

The VTuber group is the first to partner with vertical streaming application AniLive established by PRISM Project founder Shunsuke Oyu (aka Captain), and thus they have debuted 27 talents in a span of 3 days last month.

NEXAS' parent company forCreators Pte. Ltd. is led by Hiromitsu "Harry" So, whose prior experience include 17LIVE where he spent three years assisting its CEO. Harry shared his vision following the successful funding round:

"In the spirit of 'My Hero Academia', we're developing a fertile launchpad for the next generation of stars. With our planned auditions, we're excited to provide an environment that nurtures and elevates the aspirations of emerging talents."

Birthing Pains

However, the debut of NEXAS – the pioneering VTuber group streaming on the AniLive platform – was met with skepticism especially at a time when VTuber agencies are being questioned for how they operate and manage their talents.

Aside from debuting 27 talents in a single weekend – beating other active players in the scene – the concept of VTuber Academia (detailed in a blog post from March 2024) that the group is selling did not sit well with fans and other VTubers alike, alleging that there may be predatory practices inside.

The criticisms against NEXAS took a toll enough for Harry to initially lash out on X/Twitter. The founder has since apologized for the action.

Nevertheless, the debut relay reached around 100 concurrent viewers on AniLive during the platform's closed beta test, based on the app's statistics shared with VTuber NewsDrop.

Talking to a Fellow Executive in the Creative Industry

Lucius Merryweather, CEO of webcomics powerhouse Merryweather Media and its Astraline VTuber unit, asked Harry questions on stream days after the group's debut:

  • As Harry gives his apologies for the trouble, he also expressed that the criticism against the group demotivates its talents.
  • He made it clear that there's a difference between NEXAS' VTuber Academia concept and ANYCOLOR's Virtual Talent Academy. According to him, it's difficult to compare the two entities.
  • Harry emphasized that NEXAS' responsibility is to train talents along with AniLive.

Going Deeper into NEXAS' Operations

  • Merry interrogated Harry on several matters such as debuting on an entirely different platform, as well as the benefits of being part of NEXAS.
    • Harry said that NEXAS as a group wants to grow on AniLive – they are open to streaming on other platforms like YouTube and Twitch, however.
    • A criticism of NEXAS is they're implementing a VTuber "Battle Royale." Harry responds that the Battle Royale being hurled against the group is already happening on YouTube, where there's a lot of competition. If they stream on a new platform, there are few competitors.
    • Will VTubers under NEXAS be able to own their Intellectual Property (IP)? The group prepares its contract with specific conditions – and they will give out their avatar should they choose to leave. Harry made it clear that there's an exit clause in their contract with the talents.
      • It is further clarified to us following this, that in the event of material breach or any negative trouble caused by the talents, they have the right to charge fees, which is pretty basic for any kind of contract.
    • NEXAS talents are expected to stream for 40 hours monthly, and incentives will be given to those who will hit this requirement. We understand that there will be no penalties for calling in sick.
    • NEXAS has 15 staff members, half of whom face talents. Some of the staff, Harry says, has background in content creation.
    • There are plans for merchandise for the VTuber talents under NEXAS. However, this will depend on the talents' needs.
    • Big events are also lined up which will serve as its midterm and final exams for the talents. Talents are free to join monthly events on a voluntary basis.
    • Would the pay grade depend on where they live? Harry stressed that this is never the case for them.
    • Another important matter Harry pointed out is that the group will never use AI art, and will never be involved in activities related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
  • Merry suggested that the position of counselor currently being handled by the talent managers be made a separate role, of which Harry would consider in the long run.

Setting Expectations Further

A week before NEXAS makes its presence at OffKai Expo alongside AniLive, VTuber NewsDrop reached out to Harry to set expectations further, with some responses affirming what has been discussed weeks ago.

Are NEXAS talents regarded as employees?

Throughout the conversation, we understand that NEXAS talents are not regarded as employees with a fixed salary – however, they are entitled to get the basic support package: the curriculum, community activities, shared assets and templates to use, and management.

"In terms of management, we have talent managers to regularly check in with all the talents to gather their questions/requests, and provide proper advice to help their performance better based on the goals each talent defined."

NEXAS talents stay for two years – "It’s not like 'locked in'. When talents want to leave, and if we agree, we can terminate the contract."

If the talents are not regarded as employees, are they given a set amount based on their performance?

"It is same with other talent agency. Based on the performance on the platforms, talents and company will share the revenue by the percentage defined on contract. That’s the basic rule. The percentage differs in AniLive or other platforms.

"We barely take cut for AniLive revenue so that we can naturally incentivize talents to focus on AniLive, as an entry platform.

"For other platforms, such as YouTube and Twitch, we still take less than most of the VTuber agencies. The reason is we cannot provide as big support as other agencies do on YouTube and Twitch, as the primary focus as NEXAS is new platform like AniLive."

What's the next level after NEXAS?

Harry echoes what he has pitched on NEXAS' blog, as well as Merry's interview:

"In the future, once talents established a decent fanbase on AniLive and Socials, and when they want to expand more channels and seek bigger support, we plan to build 'a new entity,' which is different from NEXAS, to help them become bigger stars.

"The entity will be similar to typical VTuber agencies like Phase Connect or idol, where we invest heavily on talents to create big stars on existing platforms. This is the true intention behind the chart that people misinterpret as 'Battle Royale'.

"In the new agency, I believe the percentage we take from talents will be bigger than what NEXAS takes just because we invest more on each talent than NEXAS can. So the concept at NEXAS academia is you can get paid to get training to be a professional VTuber."

Public Relations and Talent Support

A specific topic we raised to Harry is public relations, something that involves a VTuber's activities and behavior on-stream and on social media. We asked him what is the group's PR training plan:

"The current 1st wave talents went through our 'pre-debut curriculum' before the debut. Basic social management etiquette is included in the program, but I have to admit that the content was not comprehensive enough, causing some misbehaviors by talents to be found after debut.

"[...] we’ve reinforced the PR/Twitter management training, updated code of conduct and did follow-up training sessions."

Should a talent engage in behavior that is deemed defamatory of another VTuber, or another agency, or another fan, how would NEXAS respond?

"Let’s say the case of [one talent], talent managers had [talked with the said talent] several times to properly teach what was not good and [instruct them] not to make the similar mistake anymore. Also, we updated the internal material, as described above, so other talents can learn to be able to manage better."

Speaking of its curriculum, how long does their curriculum take for a NEXAS talent to fulfill their end of the deal?

"[...] Talents are already self-managing themselves in the first year. The reason of me separating the first year and 2nd year specifically is just because our curriculum is designed for one year.

"While they do daily streaming as NEXAS talents, they are encouraged to take our curriculum to keep improving their skill sets and performance. Even in the 2nd year, we will still have some events and classes that they can participate in with [their juniors]."

In Conclusion

NEXAS stands on its own hill with its vision of introducing its idea of a VTuber economy where creators learn the skills and applying it into a new platform.

After hurdling through its birthing pains, the talents of the VTuber group is starting to reach out, with some VTubers set to have their own meet and greets at OffKai Expo together with AniLive.

Much can be said about this VTuber academia, but it's too early to tell what the group and its talents are capable of. Even so, we maintain constant communication with Harry as he and his team give the VTuber scene something different.

This piece has been updated upon request for safety purposes.