Lee Soo-man, the founder and producer of K-pop powerhouse S.M. Entertainment, said in the past that one of his dreams is to create a virtual world where the label’s artists and their “universe” is blended and delivered through various channels, such as cartoons, animation, motion graphics, avatars, and novels. Today, his dream appears to be becoming a reality.
During “SM CONGRESS 2021” ― an online event held Tuesday to offer a glimpse of the company’s vision and future strategies ― Lee revealed how S.M., home to prominent K-pop stars like E.X.O. and N.C.T., will shape its future through the S.M. Culture Universe (SMCU).
“Music producers and prosumers will coexist in our ever-expanding ‘content universe,’ where the prosumers can recreate S.M.’s original content such as those involving the ‘metaverse,'” he said. “Prosumer” refers to a prospective consumer who is involved in the design, development, or manufacture of a product, while “metaverse,” a portmanteau of the prefix “meta” ― meaning beyond ― and “universe,” refers to a shared virtual space where users interact via digital avatars.
S.M.’s C.E.O. Lee Sung-su elaborated, “SMCU can be thought of as S.M.’s metaverse inviting K-pop fans around the world to appreciate our music and stories via various platforms. It will include not only our original content but also ones recreated by the fans.”
One big project in the pipeline is “PINK BLOOD,” in which S.M. will promote and support prosumers who reproduce and reinterpret the company’s content in their way. “PINK BLOOD” are those who have affection for S.M. that have been using pink as its symbolic color.
The K-pop label has also started the “Remastering Project,” which aims to remaster some 300 old music videos in cooperation with YouTube. The goal is to fuel the surging K-pop boom through the old songs and to illuminate the history of K-pop.
“We are also planning to join hands with YouTube creators to make new content involving these videos and open a new YouTube channel for them,” Kangta, a member of S.M.’s now-defunct boy group H.O.T. that debuted in 1996, said during the event. “S.M.’s singers will also play a part in the remastering work as producers. In my case, I participated in remastering H.O.T.’s 1997 release ‘Free to Fly.'”
During the event, S.M. Entertainment stars appeared there to talk with Lee Soo-man, sharing their plans.
Three members of the 23-piece act, N.C.T. ― Doyoung, Mark, and Kun ― disclosed that the group is set to release new music as sub-units ― NCT 127 and WayV ― and as a whole.
“All 23 members will get together for a new release,” Doyoung said.
In addition, S.M. is set to debut NCT-Hollywood ― N.C.T.’s new sub-unit based in the U.S. ― through an audition program. It has teamed up with U.S. production company M.G.M. to launch the show and select 21 eligible members.
Four “human members” of girl group apps, which also comprises virtual avatars, joined the event.
“We recently unveiled the video titled, ‘Black Mamba’ to offer a sneak peek into our universe,” leader Karina said. “The next clip will come out this year.”