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HYBE reports best-performing quarter yet

HYBE (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) has published its financial results for Q2 of 2022, heralding its best-performing quarter yet.

The South Korea-based entertainment giant reported revenue of KRW 512 billion (USD 391 million) in the second quarter of 2022, up 79.7% from the first quarter of this year. While operating income hit KRW 88bn for the three months prior to 30 June.

The record-breaking revenue came from Hybe artists’ album sales, promotion, and concerts, as well as merchandise and IP licensing.

HYBE’s roster of artists includes K-pop superstars BTS, Seventeen, TXT, Enhypen, Le Sserafim, NewJeans and more.

Performances from BTS and Seventeen were major drivers in pushing HYBE’s concert revenue to KRW 85bn (USD 65m) – up 38.6% quarter on quarter.

In February, BTS brought a four-night residency, called Permission to Dance On Stage, to the 65,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

All four dates were broadcast live at the nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena, in what was dubbed a ‘live play’ event, while the final day of their residency was streamed online worldwide.

Performances from BTS and Seventeen were major drivers in pushing HYBE’s concert revenue to KRW 85bn

Seventeen, meanwhile, helped boost HYBE’s concert revenue with two dates at Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome (cap. 25,000) in mid-June. These performances were also livestreamed to global audiences.

However, Hybe’s biggest revenue driver in Q2 was its ‘Artist Direct Involvement’ business, which generated revenues of KRW 326bn (USD 249m), up 153.4% year on year.

HYBE’s second biggest revenue source in Q2 was album sales, driven by releases in the quarter from the likes of BTS and Seventeen.

The company’s album sales grew 97.1% YoY, from KRW 107bn (USD 82m) in Q2 2021 to KRW 211bn (USD 161m) in Q2 2022.

HYBE revenues from merchandising and licensing also soared in Q2, by 97.2% YoY, from KRW 50bn (USD 38m) in Q2 2021, to 99 bn KRW (USD 75m) in Q2 2022.

Revenues from HYBE’s ‘Contents’ business, meanwhile, fell 22.6% YoY to KRW 71bn (USD 54m). HYBE also reveals within its investor filing that Monthly Active Users of its fan-community app WeVerse fell by 6% versus Q1 2022.

The WeVerse app, which collates content made by and for HYBE artists such as music videos, teasers, movies, merch sales and even live streams, has been cited by the company as one of the key drivers behind its success during the pandemic.

In spite of seeing its WeVerse MAUs decline, HYBE’s revenues derived from its ‘Fan club etc’ business line grew 96% YoY to KRW 17bn (USD 13m).

 


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Construction worker dies in fall after Psy concert

A construction worker has reportedly fallen to his death while dismantling the set for Psy’s Summer Swag concert in South Korea.

The man, who was in his 20s, died after falling 49ft while taking down a lighting tower at the Gangneung Stadium in Gangneung, Gangwon on Sunday afternoon (31 July). Psy had played the venue the night before.

According to Korea Joongang Daily, the victim, from Mongolia, was working under an outsourcing agency hired to construct stage structures.

Psy’s agency P Nation has issued a statement expressing its condolences.

“We will do our best to establish measures to prevent another accident like this from happening”

“We express our sincerest condolences to the worker who passed away after a sudden accident,” it says. “We also send our deepest condolences to the surviving family.

“We will do our best to establish measures to prevent another accident like this from happening, with a sense of responsibility.”

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

With Korea in the midst of a Covid spike, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said it had received reports from people claiming they have contracted coronavirus after attending the popular shows.

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

 


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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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1.5m K-pop fans attempt to buy NCT Dream tickets

A reported 1.5 million people tried to buy tickets for an upcoming show by South Korean boy band NCT Dream.

The seven-piece group will perform their first solo concerts in almost three years, The Dream Show 2: In a Dream, at the 20,000-cap Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul from 29-31 July.

According to Allkpop, Korean ticketing platform Yes24 crashed during the presale due to the overwhelming demand. One fan uploaded a screenshot of the her position on the waiting list, which showed 600,544 other people ahead of her in the online queue.

NCT Dream’s only previous concert featuring their full line-up was held in 2019

The 31 July concert will be livestreamed on streaming platform Beyond LIVE.

The Dream Show, NCT Dream’s only previous concert featuring their full line-up, was held in 2019 at Seoul’s Jangchung Arena.

Launched in 2016 by SM Entertainment, NCT Dream are one of four spin-offs of K-pop juggernaut NCT, which consists of 23 members.

 


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Metaverse Music Festival launches in South Korea

Korea’s leading mobile operator SK Telecom has launched the world’s first live virtual concert to use volumetric image capture technology.

The Metaverse Music Festival kicked off yesterday (27 June) and is being held at the Volumetric Concert Hall via SK’s Ifland metaverse platform every day from 8pm until 3 July.

Aju Business Daily reports the festival involves eight artists and an avatar girl group, as well as featuring live avatar performances and fan meetings.

The publication notes that audiences can enjoy the festival by moving 360 degrees to their desired location at the sphere-type hall, and can freely float in the air on a flying skyboard.

“We used volumetric technology that simultaneously captures 360-degree images of people with more than 100 cameras and creates a three-dimensional image based on live action”

“At the Ifland Metaverse Music Festival, we used volumetric technology that simultaneously captures 360-degree images of people with more than 100 cameras and creates a three-dimensional image based on live action,” says SKT, as per Korea IT Times. “Thanks to this, the audience can see the K-Pop star as huge as a building.”

The festival is part of SKT’s project to incorporate metaverse technology into K-pop content targeting Generation Z.

SKT, which demoed the content at MWC 2022 in Barcelona earlier this year, says that further volumetric concerts will be held in August.

Last October, virtual blockchain-based world Decentraland unveiled the world’s first multi-day festival in the metaverse – a virtual world made up of permanent, shared, 3D virtual spaces.

The event, Metaverse Festival, featured more than 80 high-profile artists and personalities across four days and five stages.

In addition, Electric Daisy Carnival promoter Insomniac Events partnered with leading 3D platform Unity earlier this year on a “brand new, persistent metaverse world”.

The link-up, which promises to create “the next generation of live entertainment”, will focus on expanding dance culture from the physical world to the virtual, teaming Insomniac’s vision and creativity with Unity’s cutting-edge technology.

 


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J-Hope set for historic Lollapalooza headline slot

BTS member J-Hope is set to make history by headlining the final night of Lollapalooza 2022 in Chicago’s Grant Park on 31 July.

The performance will see the rapper become the first South Korean artist to ever headline a main stage at a major US music festival.

In addition, K-pop band Tomorrow X Together will make their US festival debut with a performance at the event on 30 July. Both acts are represented by Seoul-headquartered entertainment company BigHit Music.

“Lolla is the place where all music genres live in harmony”

“I’m happy to welcome J-Hope and Tomorrow X Together into the Lollapalooza family,” says Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell. “These artists have been given great gifts in communication. Their global audience speak different languages but possess an intense passion for their music.

“Lolla is the place where all music genres live in harmony. These are the superstars of the global phenomenon of K-Pop, and we are so excited to have them at this year’s festival.”

Doja Cat had originally been due to close this year’s Lollapalooza, which runs from 28-31 July, but withdrew last month due to throat problems. The four-day line-up will feature more than 170 artists performing across nine stages, including Metallica, Lil Baby, Dua Lipa, Machine Gun Kelly, Glass Animals, J Cole, Kygo, Big Sean, Idles, Green Day, Jane’s Addiction, The Kid Laroi and Charli XCX.

Lollapalooza, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021, is produced by Farrell, WME and C3 Presents.

 


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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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Second K-pop arena planned for South Korea

A second arena dedicated to staging K-pop concerts is planned for South Korea’s capital city, Seoul.

It was announced yesterday (4 April) that South Korean IT giant Kakao and the Seoul metropolitan government have signed an agreement to start building the arena in Seoul’s northern Dobong district, this June.

Expected to be complete in October 2025, Seoul Arena will reportedly include a concert venue boasting state-of-the-art sound equipment, with a seating capacity of around 19,000 and a maximum capacity of 28,000 for standing events.

The arena will also feature a separate 7,000-capacity concert venue, as well as a cinema and commercial facilities.

Kakao said it expects Seoul Arena to attract some 1.8 million visitors per year and contribute to revitalising the local economy and bolstering the ecosystem of concerts.

Kakao said it expects Seoul Arena to attract some 1.8 million visitors per year

Kakao will reportedly be in charge of operating and maintaining the Seoul Arena for 30 years after it opens, while the venue will be owned by the city government.

Though Kakao has described the project as South Korea’s “first and largest” arena dedicated to K-pop, media giant CJ ENM and AEG began construction on a similar project last October.

The pair’s CJ LiveCity Arena, slated to open in Seoul’s Goyang City in 2024, is reportedly designed to accommodate 20,000 indoor attendees, with the capacity to extend to another 40,000 outdoors.

It is also said to be equipped with “the most powerful live performance infrastructure in the world”, including stage facilities, sound and lighting systems.

Centrally located between five of Korea’s largest cities, AEG projects the new venue will attract more than 20 million visitors annually.

 


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BTS concert screening breaks box office record

BTS have broken 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.

Beamed from Seoul’s Olympic Stadium, BTS Permission to Dance on Stage – Seoul: Live Viewing was presented by HYBE and Trafalgar Releasing on 12 March in 3,711 cinemas in 75 regions for a one-day limited release, reaching a reported 1.4 million viewers worldwide in total. In North America, the production reached the No. 2 spot in the Saturday box office, generating more than $6.84m and a per-screen average of over $8,500 across 803 movie theatres.

Livestreams on 10 and 13 March attracted 1.02m fans from 191 countries/regions on March 10 and 13, bringing the total worldwide audience to 2.46m.

“As the pandemic made it difficult to access the concert venue, we wanted to create an opportunity for fans to gather and watch the concert together,” says HYBE 360 president DJ Kim said, We came up with the idea of Live Viewing at cinemas and are delighted to offer an alternative experience for fans to enjoy the concert live.”

The event, which was HYBE and Trafalgar Releasing’s fourth global title with BTS, marked the group’s long-awaited return to a stage in South Korea in front of a live audience for the first time since 2019.

“It’s a testament to both the overwhelmingly dedicated fandom of the [BTS] Army and the overall return to cinemas on a global scale”

“We are delighted with the record-breaking success of this project, not only for Trafalgar Releasing but the event cinema industry as a whole,” adds Marc Allenby, CEO of Trafalgar Releasing. “It’s a testament to both the overwhelmingly dedicated fandom of the [BTS] Army and the overall return to cinemas on a global scale.”

BTS completed a three-concert run at Seoul Olympic Stadium on March 10, 12 and 13, attended by a total of 45,000 people in compliance with the Covid-19 protocols, with a maximum capacity of 15,000 per show.

The production used a gigantic moving LED screen that moved up and down, and forward and backward, to maximise the impact of live interaction with the audience.

Covid-19 regulations banned any chanting, shouting or standing-up on-site through the concert. Fans were allowed to clap or use the clappers as well as the official lightsticks to cheer the band during the concert.

BTS will perform additional show dates for BTS Permission to Dance on Stage – Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium on 8-9 and 15-16 April. The in-person live broadcast event Live Play in Las Vegas will be available at MGM Grand Garden Arena on all four days. There will also be an online live stream on the last day on April 16.

 


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