K-POP is now leading the global trend. The key to keeping the feelings of enthusiastic fans was the “IP (intellectual property) business.” This is the latest report by Erina Tanaka, who has a good reputation for analyzing K-POP and Korean culture.
“Metaverse” that connects natural and virtual
K-POP is gaining momentum around the world. For Japanese fans, the closeness of the distance was one of the attractions. Still, the amount of content that does not cause damage even if the Corona makes it impossible to come and go, and the light footwork to start an online event immediately. Etc. have been successful.
The K-POP industry has always pursued the latest trends, but content that links virtual space and the natural world has become more prominent.
Online live performances that make full use of AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) technologies are being held, and fans and artists communicate in virtual space, and the feeling of a kind of “metaverse” has increased.
“Metaverse” is a compound word of “Meta,” which means transcendence and virtual, and “Universe,” which means the natural world and refers to the virtual world that transcends reality. Last year, in the game space of “Fortnite” distributed by US Epic Games, popular American rapper Travis Scott held a live performance, and Nintendo’s game “Animal Crossing: New Clothes Forest” (commonly known as At Atsumori), popular brand clothes appeared as items on “Atsumori,” and real museums participated, so I think there are more opportunities to meet the existence of reality in another dimension. The key to this development is the “IP (intellectual property) business.”
Characters created by the artist’s unique worldview
Speaking of K-POP and IP business, the first thing that comes to mind is the character IP “BT21” that BTS created with LINE FRIENDS.
This was born in 2017 when members participated in the initial sketch design and set each character’s character and world view. This BT21 is open to the public in 230 countries through LINE, and many people may have used it as a LINE stamp character without knowing it as a BTS character. BT21 currently has about 10.13 million followers on its official Twitter account and about 4.53 million YouTube channel subscribers, and the character itself is trendy. The large procession born when BT21 first landed in Japan in 2018 at the LINE FRIENDS store in Harajuku is also fresh in my memory.
BT21 is derived from the individuality and characteristics of BTS members, but the characters have their worldviews. On YouTube, there are story videos that show the character’s own life so far, and ASMR videos (high-quality recorded audio) of “Mukbang” (a video showing the state of meals, a popular genre in Korea) like a real human being. It is in a state where the character himself is acting as a talent in a place that has nothing to do with BTS. He distributes videos (videos that can be enjoyed together with the video) and videos performing live street performances.
These character IPs are also expanding. Korean female idol group ITZY has announced a character called WDZY in collaboration with LINE FRIENDS, and boy group TREASURE has also announced a character named TRUZ. Like LINE, KakaoTalk’s character “Kakao Friends,” often used as a messaging app in Korea, has revealed its original character in collaboration with TWICE and popular Korean singer Kang Daniel.
These artist-derived character businesses have become even more prominent in recent years. Entertainment production HYBE, to which BTS belongs, has multiple labels and a subsidiary that creates secondary and tertiary businesses using all artists and IPs derived from them. HYBE’s IP-related business can be divided into goods such as BT21 and planned product (MD) sales, pop-up stores, video content production, games, education, and publishing, as mentioned above. In all business divisions, images and characters of celebrities belonging to BTS are used as sources.
For example, in 2019, following the production of the mobile game “BTS WORLD” that can nurture BTS in collaboration with the Korean game site “Netmarble,” “BTS Universe Story” was released last year. “BTS Universe Story” is a game with AR mode that allows you to customize character costumes based on BTS members and take pictures with BTS members.
In addition, there are NAVER Webtoon (webcomic) “Hana-sama Nenka Pt.0 ” and the novel “Hana-sama Nenka THE NOTES,” which depicts the world view of BTS as a story.
At K-POP, when a new artist debuts, a very detailed world view is set, and it is characteristic that songs and performances that follow that image are developed.
Until now, the K-POP group was not recognized as an IP, but to correctly understand and share the artist’s unique world view, music, manga, and novels have come to be used.
This may be possible because the artist has a worldview that has been created to be sublimated into other content.
After immersing yourself in the worldview with manga, novels, and games like this, fans can go to the pop-up store as a natural space where they can experience the worldview and go to BT21 and TinyTAN (unlike BT21). You can purchase character goods such as 3D characters with the members themselves as motifs. In the case of K-POP, which selects a sharp activity method called a “comeback period” in which new songs are released and intensive media activities, and a “blank period” in which media exposure is significantly reduced while preparing an album. When they are not in operation, the content derived from such IP business may hold the fans’ feelings more vital and play a role in increasing the immersive feel of the artist.
Also, the characters like BT21 mentioned above and the idols themselves can be seen as realistic 3D avatars. In the case of Korea’s primary entertainment production, “YG Entertainment,” in June last year, in collaboration with the global AR avatar service “ZEPETO” operated by “NAVER Z,” the popular girl group BLACKPINK’s AR avatar service was unveiled. Ing. The “ICE CREAM” dance performance MV by BLACKPINK and American actress Selena Gomez’s 3D avatar has also been released on YouTube, and this video has exceeded 100 million views at the moment, almost a year after its release. In addition, during BLACKPINK’s online live concerts, live goods and penlights similar to the actual designs were released as items on ZEPETO, and BLACKPINK’s virtual fan autograph session was held last year. Similarly, ITZY has released a ZEPETO version MV of “Not Shy,” and TWICE has also removed costumes that match the songs as items on ZEPETO.
The influence of secondary creation by “Prosumer.”
Speaking of Avatar, there was another exciting event. Last year, a group called aespa debuted from SM Entertainment, which has sent out many popular artists such as BoA, TVXQ, and EXO. I thought it was a 4-member girl group, but each member had an AI avatar called ae, and the fact that it was an 8-member girl group that included avatars made a lot of noise from the time of the debut announcement.
In addition, the lyrics of Vespa’s song refer to a meaningful place called “KWANGYA.” The area called “KWANGYA” is a fictitious space where the music and world view of SM artists are in harmony, and it is revealed that it is a metaverse that depicts itself. This sudden appearance of “KWANGYA” came to appear frequently not only in aespa but also in the lyrics of SM artists’ songs and among K-POP fans, “What is KWANGYA?” It spread like this. Before the debut of aespa, SM Entertainment Chairman Lee Soo-man was broadcast live on YouTube at the 1st World Culture and Industry Forum, where the artists belonging to the group will connect with each other’s world views will be no boundary between real and virtual. He announced the concept of “SM Culture Universe,” a future entertainment world where the world can connect to culture.
In addition, from now on, we will provide more IP to producers and so-called “prosumers,” so-called secondary and tertiary creators who independently create and promote the diffusion and create new future content. Therefore, he said he plans to support the activities of prosumers.
From the words of Chairman Lee Soo-man, “Original content must be Re-Creatable Contents that can be recreated by prosumers,” further expansion of IP business and content through the metaverse “SM Culture Universe” It was foreseen that the sharing of the content would expand.
Until now, derivative content as a fan culture has existed, but fans have only unilaterally enjoyed the cultural content of idols created by producers. However, from now on, the artists will officially support the fans as “prosumers,” which will create interactivity with the fans and not only music but also movies, performing arts, dramas, manga, novels, etc. We are looking forward to the birth of new integrated content.
Due to the influence of Corona, I feel that the form of K-POP’s IP business has expanded rapidly as a form of communication with global fans, while there is no direct contact with artists. This expansion of the IP business has diversified the territory of artists beyond the dimensions and changed the way fans enjoy the content. If the form of participatory fans called “prosumers” that SM Entertainment talks about becomes established, new unpredictable content may be born in the future.
Interestingly, the content of K-POP idols in the IP business domain is increasing at an accelerating rate. How will cultural arts and technology merge beyond the framework of music? Now that it is possible to “go back and forth between the virtual world and the real world freely” instead of “going back and forth to see each country live,” K-POP as a content industry is making a further leap forward. Has entered the phase of.