An important thing that you can’t leave out when talking about K-POP is the live concerts.
Almost every month and year, domestic or international tours are held by K-POP groups. It is an essential part of the industry as it not only brings an enormous amount of revenue but also because it is a dream of every fan to attend their bias group’s concert and it also helps establish a close connection between the fans and the idols.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected the day-to-day lives of people around the world but has also created some obstacles for this business. As social distancing is the need of the hour, events where people in a large number attend together had to be cancelled or postponed until further notice. K-POP comeback showcases, concerts, fan meets and other related events were obviously affected as well.
As everyone around the world gets used to the new ‘normal’ of working from home and having online classes for schools and universities, the K-POP industry too is getting creative with this feature. To reach and keep their fandom going, Korean companies and groups have shifted almost all their schedules online – right from having comeback showcases to fan meets or meet & greets, etc.
SM Entertainment in partnership with NAVER launched a concert series in April 2020 called “BEYOND LIVE” which is known as the first paid concert streaming service. SuperM, NCT, WayV, TVXQ, SUPER JUNIOR and their sub-unit Super Junior – KRY are some of the groups under the label who have held their concerts through this, each having their own unique concept. Performances include augmented reality (AR) technology with 3D graphics, live-sync camera walk, multi-cam or fancam option, as well as real time online interactions between the artist and fans. The concerts are hosted via the VLIVE application and subtitles in different languages are available for the audience as well. Fans also have an option of syncing their official light sticks and getting the VOD (on-demand viewing) after the concert ends. The first act featuring SuperM had attracted around 75,000 fans and by the time the sixth act was held featuring SUPER JUNIOR, the views had surpassed 123,000 viewers from all over the world. On August 4, SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment announced the establishment of BEYOND LIVE CORPORATION, a joint company for virtual concerts, and aim to grow it into a global online concert brand. Girl group TWICE was the first one from JYP Entertainment to hold their concert under this joint venture.
Popular boy group BTS held a free online event in April, and later a paid one called “Bang Bang Con : The Live” in June. According to BigHit Entertainment, the concert had over 756,000 viewers from 107 countries and territories. MONSTA X held their first online concert “Live From Seoul With Luv” on August 8 and performed tracks from their first English album ‘All About Luv’ including others. SEVENTEEN also held their 4th fan meet “SEVENTEEN in CARAT LAND” online on August 30, where they also performed some of their hit tracks. The group is said to have managed all the backstage work themselves as the staff was limited because of the current situation.
Some of the other online concerts and festivals included – Korea Creative Content Agency’s “Trip to K-pop” concert featuring artists like iKON, OH MY GIRL, Soran, Daybreak and more, Antenna Music‘s “Everything is Okay, With Antenna”, MAMAMOO‘s Moonbyul’s solo concert, FLO‘s “Stage & FLO”, Dream Concert “CONNECT:D”, and KCON:TACT 2020 SUMMER featuring artists like ASTRO, CHUNG HA, EVERGLOW, AB6IX, TOMORROW X TOGETHER, (G)I-DLE, GFRIEND, KANG DANIEL, PENTAGON, SF9, and more.
Now, having attended two online concerts myself (SUPER JUNIOR & KRY), I have noticed a few pros & cons that this “new normal” may have.
-One of the biggest pros of this is that you can watch it from the comfort of your home. You don’t have to get up extremely early and go line up before the concert starts. I got up around 30-40 minutes before the show started and also had time to laze around after setting up my electronics.
-Another point that may go hand in hand with the above one is that while watching the concert you can grab a snack to munch on, and also go to the washroom freely without stressing about the fact that you might miss out on something.
-You can also share the cost of one ticket with your friend, in some cases, as V-Live allows 2 people to watch from one account at the same time.
-The ticket for BEYOND LIVE is 1500 V-Live coins, which is around 2299 INR – way cheaper than what you would generally pay as they cost a minimum of 8-10k INR.
-The option of VOD is definitely a plus point as once it is available you can watch it whenever and anywhere you want.
If we however have to speak about the cons, the biggest one has to be internet connection. Having a good and fast WiFi is so important. Surprisingly, my internet connection was very good during the first concert. It didn’t lag one bit and I could watch it in HD at 1080p. During KRY’s concert, I had to completely rely on my mobile data, which again was not connecting to my laptop so I had to watch it on my phone (in HD) but the experience was amazing, nevertheless. One of the con for Beyond Live is that, unlike YouTube live which has the option of going back and repeating in case you miss something , in Beyond Live you cannot do that and once you’ve missed something you will have to wait until the VOD is out to watch it again.
The biggest con probably would be that even though you’re watching your favorite group’s concert and it is of course a great experience, it cannot be compared to watching them perform in real life, feeling the rush and energy of the idols as well as the crowd and well, just cheering and screaming for your favorites with your friends. Watching it online does take away the raw fun of K-POP concerts and you may not feel that ’emptiness’ one might feel after watching their bias in person. Another big concern for the companies and artists is the illegal streaming/piracy that results out of it.
Hence, depending on your own experience and preferences, the pros & cons may differ but I just decided to include these basic ones for starters. As I write this article, there are more and more groups who have or are announcing their online concerts, showcases and fan meets. It definitely makes us think how this ‘new normal’ will affect the K-POP industry in the long run or for how long will it last. Perhaps, online concerts will be the trend for some more time but here’s hoping that we can all go back to experiencing the energy and the enthusiasm of the idols and fans and the personal experience.
Have you attended any online concert yet? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.