My ‘buccaneer’ plays with K-pop idols on the metaverse.

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Four idol groups appear as avatars, dance in a virtual space, take selfies with fans and hand out autographs.

Seven idol groups will unveil their choreography version music video in a virtual space for the first time in the world. If you purchase idol choreography, your avatar will dance like an idol.

If you think it’s a novel or a sci-fi movie scene that depicts the future, you should read this article to the end. The previous example is not an imagination of the future, but a story of something already happened. All of this happened in the ‘Metaverse.’

Metaverse combines ‘meta’ meaning virtual and transcendence, and ‘universe’ telling the world. It was first introduced in 1992 in the novel Snow Crash by Neil Stevenson. In this novel, the characters can only enter the virtual world ‘Metaverse’ by borrowing a virtual body called ‘Avatar.’

The first group is Blackpink. In September of last year, he appeared as a 3D avatar on the Naver Metaverse platform ZEPETO and held a fan signing event. Did people come to see a non-real avatar? At the event held for a whole month, 46 million people visited the fan signing event as avatars.

The second group is BTS. In September of last year, the choreography version of the new song ‘Dynamite’ was released for the first time in the world in the metaverse game ‘Fortnite.’ It was watched by 2.7 million people worldwide.

K-pop is permeating the metaverse world in various ways. SM Entertainment Executive Producer Lee Soo-man announced his vision in June and introduced the idol group Espa, active in the metaverse world. Espa is a group that combines four actual members and four of their avatars. The members work with the avatar, another self. In the music video, members and avatars appear together and dance or sing. They also participate in fan meetings and concerts.

A virtual singer based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology has also emerged. 3D rabbit artist Apoki released their first single, ‘Get It Out’ in February. The relay dance video of this song (a video of dancing in a different order for each part of the song) garnered 1 million views within a week of its release. It has 300,000 YouTube subscribers and 2.4 million followers on the short-form video service TikTok.

Why do K-pop singers get on the Metaverse like this? The COVID-19 situation has had an impact. In a case where the offline performance stage gradually decreases due to the coronavirus, people want to see the performance even through a LAN cable. A singer who wants to stand on stage and an audience who wants to see them meet in the metaverse space.

Another reason is that Metaverse is expected to grow into a next-generation platform that surpasses social networking service (SNS) platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. K-pop singers mainly worked on the S&S platform and secured fans around the world. This is because they are actively taking steps to preoccupy the Metaverse, which is expected to be a land of new opportunities in the future.

Sang-Kyun Kim, a professor of industrial engineering at Kangwon National University, an expert on Metaverse, said, “Entertainment companies are trying to use the Metaverse as a platform, that is, a platform for creating new content. In the Metaverse, K-pop singers can diversify their content. You can transform a song into a dance or a game. It can also be used as a space to communicate with fans.”

The Metaverse is also an excellent vessel to contain the worldview of K-pop singers. Kim Young-Dae, a music critic, said, “K-pop idols have previously received a response that the characters that exist in cartoons and animations seem to have been embodied in reality. They are made up of members with different looks and abilities and are sometimes given new personalities through myths or fictional worldviews. Real people represent the virtual worldview. The worldview realized by K-pop idols can be infinitely expanded without limits in the Metaverse.”

It can also provide fans with personalized content that transcends time and space. While Blackpink can’t sign autographs for 46 million fans offline for a whole month, it is possible in the Metaverse. In addition, Metaverse creates synergy with numerous content such as games and advertisements, and through this, new business models can be pioneered.

The target class of the Metaverse is the MZ generation (generation born in the 1980s and early 2000s). This is the layer that mainly uses the Metaverse. From a macro perspective, they struggle with the lack of employment and are upset by skyrocketing house prices. They want to escape from this reality and achieve surrogate satisfaction in the virtual world. From a microscopic point of view, they secretly enjoy living as a ‘sub-character (an abbreviation of a sub-character, which refers to when they act in a new image or character that is not their usual self).

Wi Jeong-Hyeon, president of the Korea Game Association and professor of business administration at Chung-Ang University, said, “The so-called ‘386 generation’ and Generation X are unfamiliar with the separation of the natural and virtual selves. Still, the M-Jet generation thinks that the characters do not have to be identical to their own. “Metaverse is gaining popularity due to this tendency of the M-Jet generation to create and enjoy a second self.”

How long will the popularity of the Metaverse last? Some say it’s just a moment. Such was the case with Adam, the first domestic cyber singer who appeared in January 1998. The first album containing the title song ‘No Love in the World’ sold 200,000 copies and became popular, but it did not last long. After that, people forgot about it and had to leave the stage.

So, how can I keep running in the Metaverse? If it stops only with something new or novel, the popularity will cease. It can last a long time if it breathes life into it. To form a new fandom in the Metaverse, the character must have a unique charm and personality.

Producer Kim Hyung-Seok, who recently introduced a metaverse-based cyber band, said, “Because it’s a metaverse, it shouldn’t end with ‘fun’ or ‘wonderful.’ You have to feel the attraction. To do this, you need to breathe life into your character. You need to find a point that gives you fun and excitement. We need a humanistic approach that explores human beings,” he said.

In the meantime, K-pop singers such as BTS and Black Pink expanded their global fandom thanks to YouTube. They captivated fans around the world with their worldview and story in video rather than text. In the future, interest is focused on whether K-pop singers will continue to succeed in the Metaverse.

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