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Korea’s CJ ENM invests in AmazeVR

South Korean entertainment giant CJ ENM has bought a stake in US-based virtual reality (VR) content platform AmazeVR.

The move is intended to enhance CJ ENM’s presence in the metaverse and expand opportunities for K-pop and unscripted content, according to Variety.

Los Angeles-based AmazeVR claims to be the first and only company using its exclusive and proprietary technology, to capture hyper-real 9K+ live-action footage of artists performing. This gives fans front-row seats in 3D stage environments, making VR concerts easily scalable and faster to produce.

The startup has previously developed immersive experiences with Megan Thee Stallion and worked with Korean girl group Aespa on real-world and virtual concerts.

It recently formalised a joint venture with K-pop juggernaut SM Entertainment to produce upcoming VR concerts for other K-pop artists.

“We are talking to iconic names in music to continue to bring the best experiences to their fans”

In January this year, AmazeVR raised US$15 million, bringing the amount of capital raised to nearly $31m since its debut in 2015. It has attracted other Korean investors in earlier funding rounds – Mirae Asset Management and Quantum Ventures Korea.

CJ ENM, which operates music TV channels, organises music award shows and the KCON conventions, says the investment in AmazeVR is part of its strategy to expand its digital and technology-related business sectors related to AR/VR tech, metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other tools.

Earlier this year, it acquired a minority equity stake in Hyperreal Digital, a US-based metaverse firm developing ‘digital humans’ technology.

“We are excited to partner with AmazeVR, a company that is leading premium VR content production technology, to lead a new paradigm in the entertainment industry,” says CJ ENM CEO Kang Ho-Sung.

AmazeVR CEO Ernest Lee adds: “With the support of our dedicated investment partners, we’re excited to enter the next age of VR concert production and deliver some really amazing performances. We are talking to iconic names in music to continue to bring the best experiences to their fans.”

 


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Korea to drop mask mandate for outdoor concerts

The South Korean government is set to finally drop its mask mandate for outdoor concerts and other large gatherings following a steady decline in Covid-19 cases.

The move, which could come into effect as soon as this week, reports the Korea Times. Under the current rules, people who do not comply with the regulations at events attended by more than 50 people are subject to a fine.

However, rules on mask-wearing at indoor shows will continue for the time being.

Korea previously eased its coronavirus protocols in the spring when it lifted its ban on clapping and cheering at gigs

Korea previously eased its coronavirus protocols in the spring when it lifted its ban on clapping and cheering at gigs, but retained the indoor and outdoor mask mandate. Fans were handed plastic clappers to emulate crowd noise at BTS’ Permission To Dance On Stage – Seoul three-night residency in March, which marked the K-pop group’s in-person concert return in their homeland. Just 15,000 people per night were permitted to attend the 70,000-cap Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul due to social distancing restrictions.

A BTS homecoming concert in Korea planned as part of Busan’s World 2030 Expo bid was recently forced to move venues due to safety concerns. The free BTS Yet to Come in Busan show on 15 October was set to attract up to 100,000 people to a special stage on the site of a former glass factory, but has been switched to the Busan Asiad Main Stadium following complaints the venue was ill-equipped for an event of such scale.

 


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Psy concerts investigated over Covid claims

South Korean authorities are investigating claims that Psy’s water-spraying concerts could be contributing to the spread of Covid-19.

The Gangnam Style singer’s Summer Swag tour came under fire earlier this summer for allegedly wasting water during a nationwide drought.

First held in 2011, the popular shows involve audience members being drenched in water as they sing along to the music, but attracted criticism after it was revealed that each gig uses around 300 tons of water.

“We use the performance venue’s water supplies as well as sprinkler trucks,” Psy told talk show Radio Star.

“We have launched an investigation to see what kind of actions are taking place during the event that could be risk factors in transmitting the virus”

Now, with Korea in the midst of a Covid spike, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters says it has received reports from people claiming they have contracted coronavirus after attending the shows.

“We have launched an investigation to see what kind of actions are taking place during the event that could be risk factors in transmitting the virus,” a spokesperson tells Korea JoongAng Daily.

Music promoters are being urged not to spray water during events while the claims are looked into.

In response to the concerns, Psy’s label P Nation says it will hand waterproof masks to each concert-goer at his upcoming Korean tour dates in Yeosu (6 August), Daegu (13-14 August) and Busan (20 August).

 


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Korea concert market showing signs of recovery

Concert ticket sales in Korea are rebounding following the lifting of Covid restrictions.

A total of 353 concerts were planned for Q2, up 43.5% from last year’s 246, with ticket sales jumping 267% year-on-year, reports Yonhap.

South Korea eased its coronavirus protocols last month and lifted its ban on clapping and cheering at gigs.

“Because the number of spectators that can be accommodated per show has increased as Covid-19 rules, such as sitting apart and the capacity limit of spectators, have disappeared, many popular concerts were sold out,” says a statement by local online reservation service Interpark.

“Pent-up demand from consumers seems to have been unleashed”

The most popular events were K-pop artist’s Sung Si-kyung’s first live concerts in three years, followed by the annual Seoul Jazz Festival. Six of the top 20 best-selling shows were outdoor concerts.

“Pent-up demand from consumers seems to have been unleashed with the resumption of outdoor music festivals as they prefer festivals that make them feel like they are out for picnics to those in closed spaces at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet,” adds the service.

Prior to restrictions being lifted, fans were handed plastic clappers to emulate crowd noise at BTS’ Permission To Dance On Stage – Seoul three-night residency in March, which marked the K-pop group’s in-person concert return in their homeland.

Just 15,000 people per night were permitted to attend the 70,000-cap Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul on 10, 12-13 March due to social distancing restrictions. But with the number of Covid cases stabilising, most measures were dropped.

 


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South Korea lifts ban on cheering at concerts

South Korea has eased its coronavirus protocols and lifted its ban on clapping and cheering at gigs.

Fans were handed plastic clappers to emulate crowd noise at BTS’ Permission To Dance On Stage – Seoul three-night residency last month, which marked the K-pop group’s in-person concert return in their homeland.

Just 15,000 people per night were permitted to attend the 70,000-cap Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul on 10, 12-13 March due to social distancing restrictions. But with the number of Covid cases stabilising, most measures have now been dropped, although the indoor and outdoor mask mandate has been retained for the time being.

The news coincides with the release of a report by the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute, which estimated the huge economic impact when BTS perform in South Korea.

“Holding K-pop concerts can have a huge impact on our economy”

“If BTS normally holds a concert in Korea during the post-coronavirus period, the economic ripple effect will reach 677.6 billion won ($550 million) to 1.22 trillion won ($989m) for one performance,” it concluded, according to Allkpop.

The study also referred to the group’s 2021 run at Los Angeles’ 70,000-cap SoFi Stadium, which marked the first time they had been able to be face-to-face with fans since the 2019 BTS World Tour. Internal data showed that more than 70% of the attendees at the LA concerts were from states outside California or overseas.

“This analysis took BTS concerts as an example, but it shows that holding K-pop concerts can have a huge impact on our economy,” it added.

 


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K-pop gigs to draw over 2.8m outside Korea in 2022

More than 2.8 million fans are forecast to attend K-pop events outside of Korea in 2022, according to a new report.

South Korea-based financial investment company Hyundai Motor Securities (HMS) projects acts represented by management firm HYBE, such as BTS, Tomorrow X Together and Enhypen, to draw 1.27m concertgoers outside their homeland on their own.

BTS completed a four-night residency at the 65,000-cap Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas over the weekend, which came four months after the group’s last US dates at the SoFi Stadium (cap. 70,000) in November/December 2021.

In addition, SM Entertainment, home to NCT, EXO and Aespa, are tipped to pull in 630,000 spectators, with JYP (Twice/Itzy/Stray Kids) and YG Entertainment (Blackpink/Treasure) expected to reach 500,000 and 300,000 people, respectively, as reported by the Korea Times.

“The 2.85 million figure is approximately 43% of the total number of global concertgoers in the pre-pandemic year of 2019”

“The 2.85 million figure is approximately 43% of the total number of global concertgoers in the pre-pandemic year of 2019,” says HMS, which says the total compares with a peak of three years ago.

Last month, BTS delivered the largest concerts South Korea had seen since the beginning of Covid-19, with three in-person concerts at Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul. The ministry for culture permitted the group to invite 15,000 people per night to the 70,000-cap outdoor stadium.

Meanwhile, it was recently revealed that TEG MJR is to promote the UK’s first-ever K-pop festival, taking place in London this summer. HallyuPopFest, previously held in Singapore in 2018 and 2019, is scheduled for 9-10 July at OVO Arena Wembley (cap. 12,500).

Mamamoo singer Hwasa, girl group Everglow, and boybands Astro and Oneus are among the artists due to perform on the first day of the festival, while boybands SF9 and Cravity are lined up for day two of the event.

The news followed the announcement of Europe’s biggest K-pop festival launching in Germany. The 44,000-capacity Kpop.Flex festival is to take place at Deutsche Bank Park Stadium in Frankfurt between 14–15 May.

 


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Clapping and shouting banned at BTS concert return

BTS fans will be banned from clapping and shouting at the group’s long-awaited return to in-person concerts in South Korea later this week.

The ministry for culture has permitted 15,000 people per night to attend the 70,000-cap Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul on 10, 12-13 March.

However, Pop reports the shows will be subject to strict Covid protocols, prompting the band’s management Big Hit Music to supply attendees with clappers to emulate crowd noise.

“Cheering loudly, yelling, chanting, and standing up during BTS Permission To Dance On Stage – Seoul is strictly prohibited according to government guidelines,” says the company in a statement. “Instead, we will be having a fan event using clappers.”

The K-pop superstars’ three Permission To Dance On Stage – Seoul concerts, which will also be live-streamed, will mark the group’s first in-person shows in their homeland since the pandemic began. The country began allowing in-person concerts from November 2021, although concerts are currently capped at 50% capacity or 4,000 spectators for indoor facilities.

“Seating for the in-person performance will comply with spacing guidelines mandated by local government performance venue Covid-19 control measures”

“Seating for the in-person performance will comply with spacing guidelines mandated by local government performance venue Covid-19 control measures,” it adds. “The event may be changed or canceled depending on the social distancing level.”

All spectators are required to show proof of vaccination or recent negative test results while organisers must appoint a sufficient number of safety management workers.

The septet’s 10 and 13 March shows will be streamed online simultaneously, while their 12 March show will be available for ‘live viewing’ in cinemas across 60+ countries worldwide.

Some regions will be able to watch the performance live, while other parts of the world will be offered a delayed broadcast to better suit their respective time zones. The cinemas will also offer a replay of the live broadcast later in the day.

BTS returned to in-person performances in late November last year with a mini-residency at the brand new SoFi Stadium (cap. 70,000) in Los Angeles, California, which became the biggest single venue concert engagement by any act in almost a decade. According to Billboard, the series sold 214,000 tickets and grossed US$33.3million (€30.5m).

 


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Europe’s first K-pop fest reveals expansion plans

Organisers of Europe’s biggest K-pop festival have revealed international expansion ambitions after adding a second day in Frankfurt, Germany.

Staged by K-Pop Europa in partnership with PK Events and Korean broadcaster SBS Television Network, the 44,000-capacity Kpop.Flex festival at Deutsche Bank Park Stadium will now run from 14-15 May, kicking off a five-year deal to further grow the genre in Europe.

A partnership between the UK’s Live Company Group and Germany’s Explorado Group, K-Pop Europa plans to expand its brand with new dates and locations over the coming year.

“We’ve been wowed by the response Kpop.Flex has had from fans so far, and are delighted to be able to extend the event into a full weekend festival,” says David Ciclitira, Chairman of Live Company Group. “This is only the beginning for K-Pop Europa, and we’re eager to bring even more of the genre’s biggest names to perform for European fans in future.”

“K-pop is a fantastic and very enriching part of the world’s music. We are really glad to be a part of implementing it into the hearts of Europe”

The opening day line-up has now been finalised, with EXO member Kai and boy band AB6IX joining the previously announced (G)I-DLE, NCT Dream, Enhypen, Mamamoo and IVE on the bill. (G)I-DLE, AB6IX, and IVE will play both dates, with Oneus performing exclusively on Sunday 15 May, alongside Monsta X.

Ticket buyers will also have access to a fan-fest Korean culture in the grounds of the stadium.

“K-pop is a fantastic and very enriching part of the world’s music,” adds Explorado Group chairman Andreas Waschk. “We are really glad to be a part of implementing it in the hearts of Europe and its people. We look forward to a wonderful weekend in May and a great experience for everyone.”

 

 


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Europe’s biggest ever K-pop festival announced

Europe’s biggest ever K-Pop festival has been announced for Frankfurt, Germany in 2022.

Staged by K-Pop Europa, in partnership with PK Events and Korean broadcaster SBS Television Network, the 44,000-capacity Kpop.Flex will take place at Deutsche Bank Park on Saturday 14 May.

Monsta X and (G)I-DLE are the first names announced, with five more acts still to be unveiled for the event, which is part of a five-year plan to further grow the booming K-pop genre in Europe.

The Korean Wave has been gathering force in Europe for some time now

“The Korean Wave has been gathering force in Europe for some time now, so we are particularly excited to be able to give our growing fanbase what they want, right here on European turf, with the return to major live music events here in Frankfurt next spring,” says David Ciclitira, a partner in K-Pop Europa, which is a collaboration between Live Company Group (founded and chaired by Ciclitira) and Explorado Group.

Kpop.Flex will kick off the music season at Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park, which has already sold out three dates for Coldplay and two for Ed Sheeran later in the year. Korean broadcaster SBS will film the festival and create a made-for-TV edit, for screening in Korea after the event.

“K-pop.Flex is a really dynamic addition to our line-up, which includes Ed Sheeran and Coldplay – and we’ve already pre-sold 300,000 tickets for those,” adds Deutsche Bank Park MD Patrik Meyer.

Festival-goers will also be able to view original artworks by K-Pop stars Ohnim and Yooyeon and independent talent Henry Lau. Limited edition prints of these artworks will be available to purchase.

 


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BTS announce mini-residency at LA’s new SoFi stadium

BTS have announced a mini-residency at the brand new SoFi stadium (cap. 70,000) in Los Angeles this winter, promoted by Live Nation.

The record-breaking K-pop stars will bring their ‘Permission to Dance on Stage’ show to Inglewood, California, for four nights.

The in-person concerts will mark the first time BTS have been able to be face-to-face with fans since the 2019 BTS World Tour.

The four shows, taking place on 27, 28 November and 1, 2 December, will follow the group’s recently announced livestream concert scheduled for 24 October.

The ‘BTS Permission to Dance On Stage’ live stream comes a year after the ‘BTS Map of the Soul On:e’ event in October 2020.

The four shows will follow the group’s recently announced livestream concert scheduled for 24 October

The stars grossed an estimated $44 million from the two-day live stream, which reached 993,000 viewers in 191 regions.

BTS’s record label, Big Hit Music, says they decided to hold the concerts in the US after “taking the national and regional health regulations and circumstances into consideration”.

“It is [with] our deepest regret that we are unable to hold more concerts in more areas,” it added. “We will do our best to put on additional concerts for not only Korean fans but fans from all around the world who have been patiently waiting for a long time.”

Fans can register for ‘Permission to Dance on Stage’ tickets here.

 


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