Korean labels, tech giants rush to scale up or digitalize K-pop to expand global fan base

2020.08.11 12:33:15 | 2020.08.11 13:58:07

Twice. [Photo by JYP Entertainment]이미지 확대

Twice. [Photo by JYP Entertainment]

South Korean entertainment labels and tech giants are doubling down on efforts to scale up or digitalize K-pop to capture the attention of the homebound global audience amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Naver Corp., the operator of Korea’s largest portal site, agreed last week to invest 100 billion won ($84.5 million) in SM Entertainment’s SMEJ Plus, a fan club managing affiliate of the Japanese unit SM Japan, and entertainment agency Mystic Story. The two companies also agreed to work together on fan club platforms and online concerts.

SM Entertainment and its domestic rival JYP Entertainment also teamed up in April to launch a joint venture called Beyond Live Corp., a provider of concert streaming services, in partnership with Naver’s V Live platform. The alliance was struck at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to provide an avenue for K-pop fans to still enjoy live concerts amid the lockdown.

SM kicked off Beyond Live’s first paid online concert in April, featuring its top boybands SuperM, NCT127, TVXQ and Super Junior.

JYP’s girl group Twice also held their first online concert “Beyond Live – Twice: World in a Day” last Sunday, drawing thousands of fans from 126 countries.

NCT127. [Photo by SM Entertainment]이미지 확대

NCT127. [Photo by SM Entertainment]

Big Hit Entertainment, whose superstar boyband BTS is known for their fiercely devoted fanbase, has mostly focused on building its own platforms and contents.

Its global fan community platform Weverse, in just a year of its launch, hit 10 million downloads last month and today enjoys average daily visits of 1.4 million from fans across 229 countries.

Big Hit on Monday also launched a new TINY TAN chibi brand for the seven BTS members, with plans to explore new markets including accessories and cosmetics featuring the new characters.

The agency already has a whole suite of business units devoted to creating marketing contents involving its K-pop artists. Big Hit Three Sixty is in charge of performances and exhibitions, Big Hit Edu handles Korean language education contents, beNX controls the online platform, and Superb develops music and games.

Big Hit also recently acquired the entertainment label Fledis, adding other popular K-pop acts like NUEST and Seventeen to its roster.

[Photo by Big Hit Entertainment]이미지 확대

[Photo by Big Hit Entertainment]

Naver’s domestic rival Kakao Corp., which runs the country’s most popular messaging app KakaoTalk, has beefed up its entertainment business portfolio through aggressive M&As.

Kakao M, the entertainment arm of Kakao, now has 18 units under its wing, including a record label, actor management agency, and drama and movie production companies.

Last week, it announced it would buy the local drama production company Wind Pictures, maker of the hit drama series “Memories of the Alhambra” and “Another Miss Oh.”

Boyband Monsta X and girl group Apink, as well as actors Hyun Bin, Lee Byung-hun, Gong Yoo and Jung Yu-mi are also managed by Kakao M agencies.

Kakao M pledged last month to invest 300 billion won over the next three years to bolster its digital contents.

By Kang Young-woon and Kim Hyo-jin

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]