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Korea’s SM Entertainment expands to Saudi Arabia

K-pop juggernaut SM Entertainment is expanding into the Middle East after partnering with the Saudi Arabian investment department.

The deal will see SM discover, nurture and produce local S-pop (Saudi pop) artists with the active support of the Saudi Ministry of Investment, with plans to establish a venue “that can hold music festivals year-round”.

SM also plans to build a metaverse platform to “share Korean and Saudi culture” and “actively promote local business… production of various contents, and production and sales of products using IP”.

“I am delighted to have signed a business agreement with the Saudi ministry of investment,” says SM executive producer Lee Soo-man. “I hope that through this agreement, me, SM, and Saudi Arabia can bear good results.

“I will discover local talents, produce S-pop, and build a music ecosystem that young people in Saudi Arabia can enjoy”

“With the CT (Culture Technology) system I built, I will discover talented local talents, produce S-pop, and build a music ecosystem that young people in Saudi Arabia can enjoy. Furthermore, I hope that it will contribute to the development of the future cultural industry in Saudi Arabia.”

K-pop artists on SM’s roster include NCT, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, Shinee, Exo, Red Velvet, SuperM, TVXQ, Aespa and BoA.

Soo-man met with officials from the local Ministry of Culture during a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia back in March, with further discussions taking place at SM’s Seoul headquarters in June.

“I am very much looking forward to working with Lee Soo-man and SM Entertainment, and we will actively cooperate,” adds Saudi deputy minister of investment Fahad Al Naim.

Last month, SM teamed with Los Angeles-based virtual reality concert platform AmazeVR to form joint venture Studio A. The JV will pool AmazeVR’s technology with SM’s extensive artist network.

 


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AmazeVR teams with Korea’s SM to launch Studio A

Los Angeles-based virtual reality concert platform AmazeVR has teamed with K-pop juggernaut SM Entertainment to form joint venture Studio A.

Based in Seoul, South Korea, the “industry-leading VR concerts production deal” will pool AmazeVR’s technology with SM’s extensive artist network.

Concerts will be distributed exclusively through AmazeVR and SM’s VR music metaverse services.

“SM is excited to expand our market to include metaverse content for artists using AmazeVR’s industry-leading VR technologies and proprietary concert creation tools. We’ve had a great interest in this market and see the opportunity for our artists in the metaverse,” says Sung-su Lee, CEO of SM Entertainment. “AmazeVR shares the same vision for this next generation of music.”

“We’re going to see some phenomenal VR concerts”

AmazeVR partnered with Megan Thee Stallion on her recently completed Enter Thee Hottieverse virtual reality concert tour, which took place in 10 cities across the US between April and July. Ticket-buyers were able to go to their local movie theatre, put on VR headsets and hang out in the “VR Hottieverse lobby” before watching the rapper. The VR concert performance featured a multi-song set that moved through a series of environments and featured custom wardrobes designed just for the show.

Leading entertainment company SM’s new girl group Aespa recently made their debut in the metaverse and played their first US live show at Coachella 2022. Other artists on SM’s roster include NCT, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, Shinee, Exo, Red Velvet, SuperM, TVXQ, and BoA.

“We’re thrilled at the prospect of working with SM to collaborate with K-pop and other Asian artists, as well as other Asian music companies, through our new partnership.” says AmazeVR co-CEO Ernest Lee. “We’re going to see some phenomenal VR concerts. They’ve influenced K-pop globally, united the music industry across the continent, and brought unique and energetic performances to worldwide audiences,”

“Our JV partnership with SM Entertainment will deliver mesmerising, fully immersive VR concerts featuring mega K-Pop stars,” adds AmazeVR co-CEO Steve Lee.” Never before have fans been able to experience their favourite artists in such an intimate and personal way.”

 


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Korean tech giant invests in K-pop’s SM Entertainment

South Korean technology firm Naver is investing in K-pop management company SM Entertainment, in a deal believed to be worth over €70 million.

SM Entertainment, one of the largest entertainment companies in Korea, is home to K-pop acts including EXO, Red Velvet, Super Junior, BoA, NCT and Girls’ Generation.

Naver Corporation, which operates Korean search engine Naver, mobile messaging service Line and live broadcasting app VLive, is not the first tech giant to show interest in SM, in which Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba took a 4% stake in 2016.

South Korean technology firm Naver is investing in K-pop management company SM Entertainment, in a deal believed to be worth over €70 million

Naver is believed to be acquiring shares worth approximately ₩100 billion (€71.2m), or just over 12% of the company, making it the second largest shareholder after SM Entertainment founder, Lee Soo-man.

According to AllKpop, Naver plans to use the intellectual property owned by SM Entertainment, which is home to acts including, to bolster content across its own platforms.

The deal follows a similar investment by Naver in fellow K-pop giant YG Entertainment, home to acts such as Blackpink, Big Bang and iKon, in 2017.

Founded in 1995, SM Entertainment is one of the big three Korean entertainment firms, along with YG Entertainment and BTS home Big Hit.

Last year, SM became the first K-pop company to join forces with a US talent agency, signing with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) for company-wide representation.

Photo: mang2goon/Wikimedia Commons via YouTube (CC BY 3.0) (cropped)


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Beyond Live: K-pop band SuperM sell 75,000 virtual tickets

More than 75,000 paid viewers tuned into a two-hour live stream by South Korean boy band SuperM yesterday (Sunday 26 April), for the first show in a new online-only concert series, Beyond Live.

The seven-piece, assembled last summer by management company SM Entertainment, performed to fans in 109 countries, including South Korea, the US, the UK, Japan, China, France, Germany and Australia, via video streaming service VLive (the same platform used by BTS for their Wembley Stadium broadcasts last summer) 3–5pm local time. Further Beyond Live shows include Chinese group WayV (on 3 May), NCT Dream (10 May) and Seoul-based NCT 127 (17 May).

“Compared to [physical] shows by popular [K-pop] idol groups, which are usually held with an average of 10,000 people per show, the world’s first online dedicated paid concert, Beyond Live, attracted 75,000 people around the world at once,” says SM in a statement.

“By mobilising an audience 7.5 times bigger than ‘offline’ concerts, we expect to develop a new concert business”

“By mobilising an audience 7.5 times bigger than ‘offline’ concerts, we expect to develop a new concert business.”

Fans who tuned into the first Beyond Live show paid an average of US$30 to be there, according to Forbes, earning SM some $2 million from virtual ticket sales.

In comparison, SuperM’s February date at the Forum in Los Angeles saw gross sales of just over $1m, per Billboard’s Boxscore. SuperM are represented by CAA in all areas.

Prior to the current livestreaming boom, K-pop superstars BTS earnt an estimated €3.5m ($3.8m), or just shy of $1.9m per show, from livestreaming their two performances at Wembley Stadium in London in June 2019.

 


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CAA takes on roster of K-pop giant SM Entertainment

Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has signed K-pop management company SM Entertainment for representation in all areas.

CAA will assist on all areas of SM Entertainment’s business, including lifestyle brands and advertising, in addition to live events.

Based in Seoul, SM Entertainment looks after artists including new supergroup SuperM, girl groups f(x), Red Velvet and Girls’ Generation, NCT sub-unit NCT 127 and Super Junior.

In 2016, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group bought US$30 million worth of shares in the entertainment company, equivalent to a 4% stake.

The deal marks the first time one of the major K-pop management companies – SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment (Blackpink, Bigbang) and Big Hit Entertainment (BTS, Tomorrow X Tomorrow, Lee Hyun) – has entered into such an agreement with a US talent agency.

“We are honoured and excited to be working with the incredible SM team to support the growth of what is already a huge fan base around the world”

“It is a great pleasure [to be] working together with the largest entertainment and sports agency in the US,” comments SM Entertainment executive director Soo-Man Lee, adding that SuperM and NCT 127 in particular “will expand further on the global market with CAA”.

“This contract is only the beginning of our collaboration,” continues Soo-Man Lee. “I hope to contribute to our forthcoming global entertainment business by providing new visions and creating more meaningful content.”

“Seeing an SM Entertainment show is an amazing experience,” says CAA president Richard Lovett. “Soo-Man Lee and his talented team have an incredible eye for high energy and charismatic talent. We are honoured and excited to be working with the incredible SM team to support the growth of what is already a huge fan base around the world.”

The companies have already worked together on SuperM’s upcoming North American tour, which kicks off on 11 November in Texas, and on TV appearances for NCT 127.

 


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