Kpop in Metaverse: Dancing to the Rhythm of Infinite Possibilities

Kpop in Metaverse: Dancing to the Rhythm of Infinite Possibilities

K-pop in Metaverse being spun up out of pixels and doing battle in a virtual universe

Kpop in Metaverse: During the pandemic, many industries saw drastic technological advancements including K-pop, with numerous new ventures for K-pop companies, especially online concerts, and virtual fan engagement events have already been organized by K-pop labels. Recently, MAVE, a South Korean girl band, achieved viral success less than two months ago with their first music video, garnering almost 20 million views on YouTube and paving the way for possible international triumph.

At first glance, MAVE looks like any other idolized K-pop band – except it only exists virtually. Its four members – SIU, ZENA, TYRA, and MARTY – live in the metaverse, their songs, dances, interviews, and even hairstyles created by web designers and artificial intelligence.

K-pop in Metaverse: Utilization of Virtual Technology

The K-pop industry is known for its cutting-edge technology, including the metaverse. Especially during the pandemic, digital technology has helped people stay connected. This also applies to the entertainment industry, as offline concerts are put on hold. Metaverse, with its virtual reality aspect, has become one of the possible answers to reconnect artists with fans–albeit through the digital world.

In terms of metaverse application, there is a growing number of metaverse-related projects/groups in K-pop. One of the famous examples is the group Aespa, which was introduced as a group with virtual counterparts (ae). Alongside the actual members, Aespa consists of 4 virtual avatars representing the members. It has since become a central aspect from which Aespa's concept was derived.

Businesses and parts of the South Korean government are looking at creating metaverses; this summer saw banks in South Korea invest in metaverse asset funds and the country's Ministry of Science and ICT earmarks trillions of won to foster tech ventures including metaverses. Millions of South Koreans invested in digital land grabs in metaverses. In early November, the Seoul city government also announced plans for its metaverse elements.

A mainstay of K-pop's push into metaverses is the growth of virtual performances and performers, which may seem new but dates back nearly two decades: a cyber-singer known as Adam created and released the album No Love Like This in 1998. Numerous other digital performers have popped up in recent years, such as the popular League of Legends tie-in girl group K/DA, voiced by various pop artists including K-pop stars, and this year's virtual girl group Eternity.

In March 2022, Blackpink's virtual avatars held a fan event on the avatar-based social media network, and 46 million users reportedly attended the event to receive digital autographs from the group. The following month, SK Telecom launched its "K-pop Metaverse Project" on its augmented reality app Jump AR, which enabled fans to create their music videos based on girl group Weeekly's music and dances. The group also hosted a virtual "face-to-face" event in May.

In September 2021, the South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT announced plans to invest a whopping US$7.5 billion into digital technologies by the year 2025; 9% ($2.2 billion) of which will go to "metaverse-related" technologies. According to a London-based analytics and consulting company GlobalData report, the country will use part of this funding to develop its own K-pop metaverse.

According to the Ministry of Science and ICT, the country plans on developing 220 metaverse firms supported by 40,000 industry experts by the year 2026. This would position the country as the fifth-largest metaverse market in the world.

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