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BLACKPINK announce first-ever VR concert with Meta

K-pop stars BLACKPINK will be hosting their first-ever virtual concert in partnership with Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and production company The Diamond Bros.

BLACKPINK: A VR Encore is slated to be a recreation of the group’s special finale show for their Born Pink world tour in Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome.

Emmy Award-winning production company The Diamond Bros. will be producing and directing the 70-minute concert for VR in partnership with Meta, and will be made available exclusively in VR inside the Meta Horizon Worlds’ Music Valley.

Meta Quest VR headset owners in select regions are privy to front-row tickets to the experience.

“We can’t wait for you to see the magic we’ve created with The Diamond Bros and Meta”

The show includes performances of songs including ‘Pink Venom’, ‘How You Like That’ and ‘Kill This Love’, as well as solo music performed by each individual member.

“We’re thrilled to embrace the dynamic world of VR because it allows us to reach an even wider global audience and share our music in an entirely new, immersive way,” said BLACKPINK in a statement.

“This VR concert is not just a show; it’s an extension of the tour we poured our hearts into. We can’t wait for you to see the magic we’ve created with The Diamond Bros and Meta, and thank you to our incredible BLINKs for your endless support.”

‘BLACKPINK: A VR Encore’ premieres in VR on December 26 at 5 pm PT in Meta Horizon Worlds. Attendees are now able to RSVP to the event, and replays will be made available for a month after the concert.

 


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Blackpink to wrap up Born Pink world tour in Seoul

Blackpink’s history-making Born Pink World Tour is to conclude as it began – with two nights in Seoul in the quartet’s native South Korea.

Korea JoongAng Daily reports the concerts will be held from 16-17 September at a venue to be decided, with the second date set to be livestreamed globally.

The K-pop superstars kicked off the tour in Seoul on 15-16 October last year with a two-night stand at the KSPO Dome.

“The two concerts will be a grand finale to the world tour during which the girl group coloured 41 cities around the world in pink over the course of 11 months,” says the group’s agency YG Entertainment. “We are happy to end the tour in Korea, where we began the tour, with Korean fans. The members particularly wanted to hold an encore concert in Seoul. The staff and artists alike are putting their best foot forward to give the best performance.”

Born Pink has long surpassed the Spice Girls’ Spice World 2019 reunion tour, which made $78.2m from 13 sold-out nights, as the highest-grossing concert tour by a female group after reportedly earning $78.5m from its first 26 shows.

The tour also pulled in 113,498 fans across two sold-out nights at Foro Sol in Mexico City from 26-27 April, generating US$9.989 million per night, to become the top-grossing concerts in Mexican history.

“Having a K-pop band headline a UK festival for the very first time and deliver a great show was an important moment”

In addition, Blackpink became the first K-pop and all-female group to headline Coachella and went on to headline AEG’s 65,000-cap BST Hyde Park in London in July.

“Having a K-pop band headline a UK festival for the very first time and deliver a great show was an important moment for us,” AEG’s CEO of European festivals Jim King told IQ.

The group’s previous 2018-20 In Your Area World Tour netted $56,756,285 from 36 dates.

Blackpink currently sit a distant second on Koreaboo‘s list of the 10 most-attended concerts by female K-pop artists in Korea over the past 12 months. Their KSPO Dome shows reportedly drew 20,060 fans to trail singer-songwriter IU, who attracted 87,578 people to her two shows at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium last September.

The top 5 is completed by Taeyeon (17,843 attendees) Twice (13,792) and Red Velvet (11,562) over two nights at KSPO.

 


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Coldplay respond to furore over upcoming Malaysia gig

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin has responded to calls for the band to cancel their forthcoming and first-ever concert in Malaysia.

Leader of the Malaysian Islamic Party (also known as PAS), Nasrudin Hassan, recently called for the band’s show in Kuala Lumpur’s National Stadium Bukit Jalil on 22 November to be cancelled.

“What does the government want to nurture a culture of hedonism and perversion in this country? I advise you to just cancel this group’s performance in Malaysia. It brings nothing good to religion, race and country,” he wrote on Facebook a fortnight ago. The protest was rebuked by several government ministers.

PAS previously called for a ban on international concerts with a threat to protest in response to Billie Eilish’s Kuala Lumpur concert in August last year. More recently, an independent Malaysian Muslim preacher called for BLACKPINK’s concert in March to be cancelled.

In a recent interview with Malaysian national radio station HITZ, Coldplay’s frontman responded to PAS’s calls: “Every time I meet Malaysian people, I feel such a sense of love and warmth. Everybody is welcome to our show. We love all people, all kinds of people, all religions.

“All leaders, all followers – nobody is excluded. We really want you to come to our show and feel free to be yourself and feel free to let everybody be themselves. Anyone who is not happy we are coming, we’re sorry, but we love you too.”

“Everybody is welcome to our show. We love all people, all kinds of people, all religions”

Coldplay’s upcoming concert in Malaysia has also made headlines after tickets appeared on resale for exorbitant prices, causing promoter Live Nation Malaysia to wade in.

According to LN, tickets purchased from scalpers will be cancelled if the sale was found to have breached terms and conditions.

MD Para Rajagopal said that no tickets have been cancelled so far, adding that cancellations will only happen when organisers have valid proof.

He also noted that the issue is an opportunity for authorities to regulate the sale of music tickets to protect the industry, fans, and promoters: “It took a show like Coldplay to open everybody’s eyes to what’s going on in our industry.”

Meanwhile, there have been petitions online for a second concert in Kuala Lumpur to be added after the Grammy Award-winning British band announced another night in Koahsiung, Taiwan, due to overwhelming demand.

Rajagopal said “Anything is a possibility. Discussions are going on for a lot of things. We cannot officially communicate anything,” and asked fans to stay tuned to the organiser’s channels for any news.

 


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Blackpink creative director signs with OCA

London-based creative director Amy Bowerman has signed with the Original Creative Agency (OCA) for worldwide representation.

Bowerman, who was a panellist at last month’s ILMC, has worked with acts such as Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, FLO and Anne Marie, and served as the creative director for Blackpink’s Born Pink world tour in 2022.

With an index of 50 creative directors globally – as well as an in-house studio – OCA is the world’s first agency representing top-tier creative directors on a global scale, responsible for almost 90% of the top 1% of music artists.

“OCA represents some of the most inspiring creatives in the world, so I am very fortunate to sit alongside them”

“It is incredibly exciting to be a part of the OCA family and to be working with the team,” says Bowerman. “OCA represents some of the most inspiring creatives in the world, so I am very fortunate to sit alongside them. I look forward to all the opportunities we have together.”

OCA’s roster of creative directors also includes Ben Chappell, Mike Carson, Sage Adams, Imogene and Maxime Quoilin.

“We are super-excited to have Amy on our roster,” adds OCA partner Jesse Rose. “OCA represents some of the biggest and most respected creative directors in the industry, so it makes absolute sense to be working with Amy.”

 


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The O2’s Steve Sayer on the K-pop boom

The O2’s VP and general manager Steve Sayer has spoken to IQ about the global K-pop boom after the London venue was lit up pink in honour of Blackpink’s two headline shows.

The 21,000-cap venue’s iconic white tent, and entrance sign were transformed to bright pink for the South Korean girl group’s AEG-promoted concerts on 30 November and 1 December.

The O2 was an early adopter of the K-pop craze, having welcomed BTS in October 2019, who smashed a merchandise sales record previously held by the Rolling Stones. The seven-piece band went on to make history the following year by playing to 120,000 people over two nights at Wembley Stadium, promoted by Live Nation.

“We hosted BTS before most people in the UK mainstream even knew who they were,” Sayer tells IQ. “They had this phenomenal fan base, but it was still relatively cult, and when we had those two shows I remember walking into the venue that morning – it was midweek and it wasn’t a school holiday – and there was this huge queue on the square outside The O2.

“We’ve had a lot of smaller K-pop artists and Asian artists play The O2 over the last 10 years, but that event really set the standard. You now have major artists – Blackpink’s a great example – that have the capability of selling out huge venues.”

“It’s a genre that is clearly only going to grow”

Europe’s largest K-pop festival, Kpop.Flex, sold more than 70,000 tickets in 84 countries for its inaugural edition at Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany, in May.

Staged by K-Pop Europa in partnership with PK Events, K.Flex was due to make its UK debut at The O2 last month with acts including Winner, Pentagon and AB6IX, alongside the first-ever Kpop.Flex Awards For Emerging Artists. But the event was cancelled following the Halloween crowd crush in Itaewon, Seoul that killed 158 people. The festival, which returns to Germany from 17-18 June, will now launch in the UK from 22-24 September 2023.

“It was sad that we had to cancel the event recently, but I think everybody understood why,” notes Sayer. “But next year’s K. Flex is going to be brilliant, because there will be big headliners but it will also be an event that breaks some of the up-and-coming K-pop artists.

“In addition to K.Flex, we’ve have a number of other pencils for K-pop artists next year. It’s a genre that is clearly only going to grow and our partners on that event are very much connected with the Korean equivalent of our DCMS, which is actively using it as a way to promote Korean culture globally.”

“To mark Blackpink being the first female K-pop band to headline The O2, it was only right that the whole venue should be turned pink for the first time ever in their honour”

Blackpink recently became the first girl group to gross US$3 million (€2.9m) from a single arena concert in North America, generating $3.297m per night from their two 23,928-cap sellout shows at the Prudential Center in Newark from 14-15 November. The quartet will return to London in 2023 for their UK festival debut at BST Hyde Park on Sunday 2 July.

“We were very excited and proud to start Blackpink’s European arena tour with two historic nights at The O2 – a mere sneak peek into what they have planned for their colossal BST Hyde Park show in July 2023,” adds Simon Jones, SVP of International Touring at AEG Presents. “To mark Blackpink being the first female K-pop band to headline The O2, it was only right that the whole venue should be turned pink for the first time ever in their honour. Iconic!”

Meanwhile, Billboard‘s newly published Year in Touring places BTS as the 27th highest-grossing tour of 2022, generating US$75,489,240 from 458,144 ticket sales for just 11 shows.

BTS’ record label Big Hit Music announced in October that the K-pop superstars were moving forward with plans to fulfil their mandatory military service, ending a long-running debate in Korea over whether they should receive an exemption due to their artistic accomplishments.

 


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Blackpink make history with US concerts

Blackpink have made history by becoming the first girl group to gross US$3 million (€2.9m) from a single arena concert in North America.

According to @touringdata, the K-pop superstars generated $3.297m a night from their two 23,928-cap sellout shows at the Prudential Center in Newark from 14-15 November.

The South Korean quartet’s current Born Pink World Tour commenced at Seoul’s 20,000-cap KSPO Dome on 15 October before embarking on a US leg, which wrapped up last weekend with two dates at Los Angeles’ Banc of California Stadium.

The tour lands in Europe next week for stops at The O2 in London (30 November & 1 December), Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona (5 December), Cologne’s Lanxess Arena (8 December), Accor Arena in Paris (11-12 December), Royal Arena, Copenhagen (15 December), Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin (19-20 December) and Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome (22 December).

Blackpink’s 2018-20 In Your Area World Tour scored a total of $56,756,285 at the box office from 36 dates

In 2023, Blackpink have a string of huge outdoor dates lined up in Thailand, China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Singapore from January to March, followed by a tour of Australia and New Zealand in June. They will also headline the 65,000-cap BST Hyde Park in London on 2 July.

The group’s 2018-20 In Your Area World Tour scored a total of $56,756,285 at the box office from 36 dates.

Elsewhere, Korean eight-piece Stray Kids will become the second K-pop boy band (after BTS) to headline a US stadium when they perform at the 22,000-cap Banc of California Stadium in LA on 31 March 2023 as part of their Maniac World Tour.

 


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New fund allows investors to back K-pop stars

K-pop fans can now buy shares in the companies behind stars like BTS and Blackpink via a new Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), launched in the US.

The KPOP and Korean Entertainment ETF launched on the NYSE Arca exchange yesterday (1 September) and includes the stocks of 30 corporations, including four music companies that helped K-pop stars achieve global fame.

HYBE (BTS, Tomorrow X Together, Enhypen), SM Entertainment (SuperM, NCT 127, Girls’ Generation), JYP Entertainment (Stray Kids, Twice) and YG Entertainment (BlackPink, Big Bang) are among the index of companies on the ETF.

An ETF — which can be bought and sold on-demand like individual stocks — allows US investors to buy foreign stocks on a domestic stock exchange.

In South Korea, K-pop fans and other retail investors could easily own shares of K-pop companies because they trade on South Korea exchanges but until now it was “almost impossible” for US fans to buy the individual stocks.

“Global fans who love K-pop [can now] participate in the potential growth and development of the K-pop industry”

Jangwon Lee, the CEO of CT Investments and Contents Technologies, the company behind the ETF, says: “K-pop, which has become a global keyword, has become part of mainstream culture for fans in Korea as well as around the world.

“We are launching this ETF to provide an opportunity for global fans who love K-pop to participate in the potential growth and development of the K-pop industry as well as investors access to Korea-listed companies that are driving the future of global content industry forward.”

Lee is also CEO of Seoul-based Beyond Music which is reportedly Asia’s largest single music IP asset management company and has raised $200 million to buy up rights in Asia.

The new ETF comes after HYBE  (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) reported its best-performing quarter yet in Q2 2022.

The South Korea-based entertainment giant has had huge success in the live music sphere, with record-breaking concerts from K-pop superstars BTS.

Most recently, BTS broke the global event cinema record after grossing $32.6 million (€29.8m) with the first live worldwide cinema broadcast of a concert from South Korea.

 


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YouTube-conquering Blackpink become biggest K-pop act

After their song ‘Ddu-Du Ddu-Du’ earlier this week become the first by K-pop act to surpass a billion views, girl group Blackpink are officially the hottest Korean pop export, outranking even BTS when it comes to online buzz, according to Viberate.

Using data drawn from streaming services, social platforms and official artist websites, Viberate found that Blackpink (pictured), signed to YG Entertainment, just edge out the Big Hit-signed boy band to become the most popular K-pop act.

According to the platform, “it’s a close call, but the answer is Blackpink. Blackpink tops BTS in Viberate’s overall rankings, as well as their mainstream pop and Asianpop rankings, which are calculated according to digital popularity on Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube.”

Not surprisingly, it continues, “YouTube is where Blackpink especially dominates, with 4.5 billion yearly views and of course the recent ‘Ddu-Du Ddu-Du’ benchmark. BTS only surpasses Blackpink in Twitter followers and SoundCloud popularity (where Blackpink has no presence).”

Courtesy of Viberate, here’s how the K-pop titans stack up:

Viberate BTS vs Blackpink

Viberate, one of the first wave of music-focused cryptocurrencies, started out as an Airbnb-like service which promised to cut out the agency middle man and connect unsigned musicians (who would be paid in Viberate’s native crypto, the vibe) with a database of those who might want to book them.

Two years on, its creators are focused on building blockchain-powered database that maps the entire live music business, including artists, music venues, booking agencies, festivals and other music events. Dubbed the ‘IMDb of music’, Viberate allows artists, music professionals and fans to add artist/agent/venue/festival profiles to its database; following review by a team of around 80 ‘curators’, the submitters are rewarded with cryptocurrency.

Following news that its biggest stars would go on a touring hiatus, BTS’s management company, Big Hit Entertainment, recently announced plans to hold global auditions for a new girl band, to rival the likes of Blackpink and Twice.

 


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K-pop girl group Twice sell out Japan shows

All 15 concert dates on the Japanese leg of K-pop band Twice’s current world tour have sold out, after over one million fans applied for tickets.

The nine-piece girl group have concert dates at the Makomanai Ice Arena in Hokkaido (10,000-cap.), Chiba’s Makuhari Event Hall (9,000-cap.), the Osaka Jo Hall (16,000-cap.), Miyagi’s Sekisui Heim Super Arena (7,000-cap.), Nagoya’s International Exhibition Hall (13,500-cap.), Marine Messe Fukuoka (13,000-cap.) and Shizuoka’s Ecopa Arena (10,000-cap.)

JYP Entertainment, the management company behind the band, announced two extra dates on Sunday (27 October) at the 55,000-capacity Tokyo Dome.  Twice will be the first K-pop girl group to play two consecutive concerts at the dome. The shows will take place on 3 and 4 march 2020.

Twice will be the first K-pop girl group to play two consecutive concerts at the Tokyo Dome

The concerts are part of the Twicelights 2019 world tour, which has seen the band play in Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Mexico, Malaysia and the United States.

According to IQ’s recent Japanese market report, Japan is the second largest music market in the world, behind the United States and ahead of Germany. The country’s live sector has reached unprecedented levels in recent years, generating ¥332 billion in 2017 (£2.4bn) and ¥345bn (£2.5bn) in 2018.

K-pop in particular has “made a big impression” in Japan, with Twice and other bands such as BTS and Blackpink recording and performing Japanese versions of their songs.

 


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Promoters push for end to Chinese K-pop ban

Amid the growing popularity of K-pop and other Korean music globally, concert promoters in China are reportedly pressuring authorities to lift restrictions on South Korean artists performing in the country.

The People’s Republic of China issued a nationwide ban on performances by Korean artists – as well as a prohibition on South Korean television programmes, and on Korean celebrities appearing on Chinese TV – in November 2016, during a diplomatic row over the presence of US missiles in South Korea.

No major Korean artist has played in China, a market of some 1.4bn people, since – even as the likes of Exo, Twice, Blackpink and, most famously, BTS (who yesterday announced a new world stadium tour), have gone on to huge touring success elsewhere.

According to Bloomberg, “people familiar with the matter” have revealed that China-based promoters are now seeking permission to bring in Korean bands, though it is not clear whether the Chinese culture ministry will be receptive to their requests for permits.

“People are getting ready”

“People are getting ready,” says Archie Hamilton, MD of promoter Split Works. “There is a lot of money there.”

“A lot of Korean artists would like to tour” in China, adds Modern Sky booker Jordan Corso. “It’s too big a market [not to].”

The news comes amid a limited thaw in relations between the two nations that has seen a select number of groups being allowed to tour and South Korean programming returning to Chinese TV.

Shares of YG Entertainment, which manages Blackpink, gained nearly 3% on the publication of the Bloomberg report. JYP Entertainment, which represents Twice, rose 1.4%, while SM Entertainment, whose roster includes Exo and Super Junior, was also up as much as 3%.

 


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