Since the pandemic shook the world last year, typical social events have moved into online spaces. Not only did our daily lives change, but so did the market of entertainment. Over the years, K-pop has become a huge global phenomenon, and everyone is on the edge of their seats to see what the next trend is going to be. If you ask any K-pop fan what they will spend most of their money on, the answer will most likely be concerts!
Attending a concert by your favorite artist is any fan’s dream come true, and it is no surprise that it’s a lucrative source of income for K-pop companies—especially overseas concerts. Not only do they earn money from ticket sales, but they also earn by selling merchandise such as CDs, light sticks, banners, and other auxiliary peripherals from concerts. In 2012, TVXQ had their Japan Arena tour, which made approximately $66 million on ticket sales alone. The arena tour consisted of 26 performances with 550,000 fans in the audience. This estimate is only in one country; imagine how much revenue they make in world tour concerts!
K-pop concerts are well known for being one of the best places for fan and artist interactions. Every K-pop group has a light stick with a specific color and a design that represents the group. With the light sticks, fans create an ocean of stars representing the loving devotion they have for their idols. The ocean of stars is accompanied by a unique fan chat for each song the group performs. In some concerts, fans coordinate their lightsticks to spell a message for their idols. For this reason and many others, concerts are essentially a huge dream for fans and idols alike.
With the ongoing pandemic, the K-pop industry has made a trend of having online live concerts. The first group to do so was SuperM on April 26, 2020, using Beyond LIVE, created by the same company representing this supergroup, SM entertainment. Beyond LIVE, as stated on their web page, is the world’s first for online customized paid concerts that features advanced AR technology, real-time 3D graphics, differentiated camera works, and interactive communication through live video calls between artists and global fans.
The description sounds really fun and nice, but could they really mimic the space experience of attending a concert in person? Acting by my own curiosity, I decided to attend one: Beyond LIVE: Taemin-N.G.D.A. (Never Gonna Dance Again) online concert. Lee Taemin is a South Korean singer and dancer who started his career at the fresh age of 14 in the legendary boy group SHINee. He has been known as the idol’s idol and for his avant-garde as a theatrical performer who was not afraid to explore themes like the representation of sexuality in art.
The online concert was held on May 2 at 3 pm Korean Time. Before the show, fans who bought the tickets will have an opportunity to be selected to be part of the live video cheering where Taemin would see them while he performed, but sadly I wasn’t chosen in the random selection. Nonetheless, the online platform provided opportunities for us to be involved in the concert. Beyond LIVE sold virtual light sticks to cheer on Taemin and an open live chat where we could interact with other fans, and Taemin would read them when he took a break from performing.
The concert featured a 21 song set list performed with diverse stages, outfits, and fantastic choreography. The show included pre-recorded VCR videos where he showcases his artist side: storytelling videos, heartfelt songs, and striking dance moves, which gave him time to change and prepare for his next song. What impressed me the most was his stable vocals and the fact he was dancing while performing in a 90 degree angled stage while being blindfolded and bounded up! Also, the background dancers and staff producers worked so hard to make the concert enjoyable as possible. The massive production behind the show and the small details were off the roof!
In between songs, Taemin would take a break and talk to the audience, which was translated to English in real-time, which proved that the perfect stages and visuals weren’t pre-recorded. The platform never lagged or froze, even though many people were connected from different countries. Everything ran smoothly, and I had no problems whatsoever, which was a significant concern for me. The tickets weren’t too expensive, and they included a re-streaming of the concert, which can be viewed with a streaming schedule that the platform provided.
The only downside was that they only selected 150 people for the live video cheering, which I thought was a low number considering how many audience members wanted to be on the screen. Plus, having a scheduled time to watch the show again is a bit over the top. The online concert was fantastic, but it could never mimic a real concert in person. Even Taemin expressed that he loved the energy the fans gave him in previous shows, and he misses those moments that made it memorable. Still, the online concert did more stuff than regular concerts couldn’t do.
All in all, was it worth the money? Yes, I definitely enjoyed the concert. Taemin and the production team did a great job putting together the show and making us feel part of the experience. The platform has strict regulations for an illegal recording of the concert. Meaning you won’t find it on any other platform unless they officially published it on their YouTube page. Thanks to this, I can officially say that it was a once in a lifetime experience.