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K-pop

BTS ushers in new paradigm for online concerts

Oct 12, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

South Korea’s seven-member boy band BTS has had many firsts over the years. They were the first Korean band to perform at the legendary Wembley Stadium, the first Korean group to grab the the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list with Dynamite, and the first group to have three Billboard No. 1 albums within a year since The Beatles.

And BTS continues its string of blockbuster firsts as its online concert Map of the Soul On:E pulled in over two million viewers and an estimated revenue of over 50 billion won ($43.5 million) during a two-day concert last week.

The concert between Oct. 10 and 11 was broadcast on Weverse, a fan community platform operated by Big Hit Entertainment Co. The company garnered praise for introducing a new paradigm as the BTS online concert maximized the use of cutting-edge "ontact" technology -- a term coined in Korea, fusing online and contact -- including augmented and extended realities to create an enthralling experience for their ARMY fanbase.
BTS Map of the Soul On:E concert
During the concert, BTS members -- Jin, Suga, JHope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook -- performed 24 songs, including popular hits Black Swan, DNA, Dynamite and ON, for almost three hours on four massive stages. The sophisticated stage layout and visual effects enhanced the experience, drawing over 100 million fans across the world, with chants of "BTS" echoing throughout the concert.

“It’s been a year since we have seen and heard the shouts of the ARMY. We’ve missed it dearly,” said Jin, who is expected to serve his mandatory South Korean military duty next year.

This novel online experience is backed by Big Hit's tireless efforts to implement fresh approaches to their online concerts. In June 2019, the Wembley performance was live-streamed with 140,000 viewers tuning in.

In June 2020, BTS held its first paid online exclusive concert: Bang Bang Con: The Live, as their international tours were canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The concert drew in over 750,000 viewers across 107 countries -- breaking the Guinness World Record for most viewers attending a live-stream music concert. The concert raised around 22 billion won in revenue.

Big Hit's budget for Map of the Soul On:E was near eightfold that of Bang Bang Con The Live, and even the ticket prices were higher, ranging between 49,500 won and 59,500 won.

The artist-to-fan interactive features were upgraded as well. During the Bang Bang Concert, real-time communication was carried out via chatting, whereas in the Map of the Soul On:E, fans participated as a virtual audience in screens displayed on the walls. 

BTS Map of the Soul On:E concert

The new ontact technology has made it possible for BTS and their dedicated ARMY to enjoy the concert through multiple camera angles while shaking their ARMY neon wands and chanting via real-time communication.

"I'm 80% happy that we can enjoy this time together in real-time via an online performance, although I'm 20% sad that I can't see our fans directly," said JHope.


Write to Jae-Hyuck Yoo at yoojh@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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