Online Concerts, Fansigns & More OH MY!
By Rachael Lovette
During the first few weeks of March and April of this year, most of us were trying to understand what social distance rules meant for us. For many, myself included, it meant an impending void in comradery with strangers, overpriced food and beverages, cloudy hearing, and losing your voice that came with summer concerts and festivals as live, in-person events were indefinitely put on hold.
Live music has been one of the hardest industries hit, but as they say -- the show must go on. Several musical institutions in South Korea and China have learned how to thrive in this trying time by taking the show online. However, some artists have taken it a step further by offering fan calls and fan meetings as a way to connect with their fans. It seems like a win-win situation, allowing us to connect with and support other fans and fill our spare time while generating revenue for these artists, creators, and music industry staff.
So where do you find these events?
Below is a list of popular platforms, typical cost, etiquette, and tips and tricks because you don’t want to be the person that goes viral for bullying a musician on a fan call.
V Live, sometimes referred to as V App, is a South Korean live video streaming service that allows celebrities based in South Korea to broadcast live videos such as live chat sessions with fans, performances, reality shows, and award shows on the internet. Available on iOS, Android, and PC. Performances range from free (yes that’s right!) to $30+. Some concerts include multicam access so you can see individual members perform up close as opposed to the group the entire time as well as VOD (video on demand) concert replay. The nice thing about VOD through V App is that you own the concert replay indefinitely as compared to other platforms that have a lifespan of as little as two months.
V Live does a great job of keeping past and present events at the forefront. Whether you access the platform via the app on your mobile device or the website you will be greeted each time with a pop-up telling you about an event. Additionally, the home, events, and store pages have a slide show at the top that rotates between concerts, fan events, and more. If that’s too much you can search for your group of choice and browse their V Live store page directly.
From live concerts and festivals to original audio/video content created by artists and more LiveXLive is the world's first all-in-one music & entertainment platform. This platform differs from others on this list as it isn’t just exclusive to K-Pop -- it offers premium content from artists and musicians across the globe. Whether you purchase a single ticket for an upcoming concert or signup for a monthly or annual membership that gives you access to concerts, original shows, and more, LiveXLive has a variety of options. Monthly memberships range from $3.99 to $9.99, while concert tickets are $10 and up depending on the add-ons available, the artist, and more.
withDrama sells official K-Pop merchandise such as lightsticks, albums, merchandise, and more both online and offline in South Korea. In recent months they’ve been offering fans the opportunity to buy the newest album of their favorite K-Pop group and be entered into a fan sign lottery to have a video call with their favorite member of the group. The cost for the video fan sign lottery (remember you also get the album) ranges from $10 to $50 depending on the artist -- meaning the more known/famous the artist the higher the cost may be. If you plan on participating in a fan sign lottery make sure you meet all the requirements including your name, date of birth, phone number, and channel ID (WeChat, Kakao, or LINE).
Beyond Live is a joint venture, an online live concert streaming service between South Korean entertainment companies SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. It is the first paid concert streaming service in the world to deliver live online concerts aided by augmented reality, Sync Play allowing fans to synchronize their fan lightsticks with the concert, and offer real-time interactions between artists and the audience watching live at home. Tickets are usually $30 and up depending on the add-ons available if any. While Beyond Live launched in April 2020 as its own entity (and still has its website for live concerts) it also recently partnered with V Live in November to bring more concerts to more fans using their technology and services.
MyMusicTaste is a Seoul-headquartered service that lets fan campaign to bring their favorite artists to their city instead of promoting events that have already been organized. As COVID19 restrictions put a halt to in-person concerts, MyMusicTaste shifted its focus to allow fans to campaign to have their favorite artists perform a live online concert. Ticket prices range from $20 to over $100 depending on the add-on bundles available. The nice thing about MyMusicTaste is most base-level concert tickets include VOD so there is no upcharge if you want to rewatch the concert at a later date like other services.
YG Entertainment recently launched a digital concert format and platform called Palm Stage. Palm Stage is derived from the idea that fans can watch a concert in the palm of their hands. While details are still emerging on this platform, the first concert has been announced. BLACKPINK will officially hold their first online concert through Palm Stage on December 27th. Fans will be able to buy one-month membership access of $29.99 to watch the concert on YouTube.
Weverse Live Concert
Weverse is the official fan community platform owned by Big Hit Labels that connects fans with artists like BTS, GFRIEND, TOMORROW X TOGETHER, and SEVENTEEN to name a few. In November BigHit announced they will be holding a New Year’s Eve concert with all of their artists under the Big Hit roster. At the time of the announcement, the ‘2021 NEW YEAR’S EVE LIVE presented by Weverse’ as it is dubbed will hold both an online live-streaming and offline (in-person) performance event on December 31, 2020. The cost of tickets for the in-person event range from $140 TO $250, no details for the online portion of the event have been announced.
Daum Cafe also known as Daum Fancafe works as a platform for K-Pop groups to interact with their fans in a closer manner. From heartfelt messages to fans, exclusive content, and official announcements, fan cafes are a great spot to get early and/or exclusive access to information that K-Pop groups may not share on their social media accounts. It’s important to note that fan cafes can be tricky, hard to access, and hard to navigate. Some fan cafes are open to fans across the globe (such as Monsta X, Astro, and Golden Child), while others require you to go through a tedious process of verifying your identity through Kakao (ATEEZ). However, if you are up for a challenge, then Daum Cafe is a great place for you to get early access to concert information and hopefully land one of the limited add-on bundles.
Many artists announce and promote their upcoming online concerts on their social media channels including TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and their designated fan cafes on Daum (K-Pop). These concerts are usually held on one of the above platforms, or in the case of BTS’s recent Map of the Soul ON:E online concert, they built their own platform specifically for the concert as they expected over a million fans to participate. Ticket prices range from $25 to $150 depending on the first come first serve add-ons. Add-ons can include merchandise such as photo cards, apparel, and accessories to name a few, online exhibitions, VOD, and video fan calls. The most effective way to find these concerts is to follow your favorite artist or artists on social media and turn on the notifications for Twitter. That way if you want to successfully nab a merchandise bundle or video fan call with your favorite member you can as they sell out fast.
So what happens when you’ve exerted all this effort and missed the concert, missed your alarm or had a technical issue or lag that caused you to miss part of the performance? Head to YouTube! After an event, many festival organizers and artists will upload part of, if not all the performance footage. Don’t believe me? Asia Song Festival 2020, Korean Music Drive-In Festival, and Unite On: Hallyu Festival recently took place online and are now available to watch on YouTube in their entirety. Additionally, Stray Kids released unloaded a few performances from their Stray Kids ‘Unlock: GO LIVE IN LIFE’ concert.
Many K-Pop idols are offering video calls with fans as part of their post-online concert experience, in tandem with the release of new music or with the case of ATEEZ throughout their entire 6-week promotional period. Fan calls are usually a raffle or lottery-style competition where fans have to meet certain criteria (such as purchasing an album through a specific online retailer) to enter. Additionally, some artists have tested selling a limited number of fan calls that are on a first come first serve basis. Fan Calls aren’t limited to just local fans and are open globally as many K-Pop artists have a general understanding of and can speak basic English. The cost of fan calls ranges from $10 to $150 depending on the retailer and their agreement with the artist.
Before COVID19, fansigns were one of the best ways to meet K-Pop artists in person. Now artists have taken this concept and made it digital allowing for fansign events to pop up any time and place. They are very similar to fan calls in that attendees are picked through a lottery-type system that can include simply submitting a form or purchasing an album. Fansign events include stand-alone events where fans get the opportunity to virtually meet the artist or group, participate in a Q&A session and watch a variety show style event or online concert fansigns where fans get the opportunity to be on-screen during the concert for the artist or group to see and hear, participate in a Q&A session and more.
The Korean and Asian cultures are very conservative both in how they dress and the way they speak. K-Pop artists regularly study and familiarize themselves with the customs and cultures of a foreign country before performing there so their actions, words, and/or costumes do not offend anyone (or get them in trouble with the local government). This is the complete opposite of the Western music industry that is littered with barely visible outfits, vulgar lyrics, illicit drugs, groupies, and more.
So if you are lucky enough to win a fan call with your favorite artist here’s a few things to keep in mind:
No mature, sexually explicit, or otherwise offensive language.
Saying things like “Hey Baby,” “Your F-ing Sexy,” or other vulgar things you may say to your significant other or Tinder hookup should be kept to yourself.
No lingerie, don’t show too much skin and keep makeup to a minimum.
Dress appropriately, as if you are going to a job interview, somewhere with your grandma or similar where you are covered up.
When in doubt, use your best judgment, but if that fails ask fellow fans. The last thing you want to do is go viral for bullying a K-Pop artist because you purposely wore an outfit and used language that made them uncomfortable. Remember these K-Pop artists are just young adults who gave up everything to pursue their dreams -- they don’t need or deserve any added pressures from fans to get them in trouble with their agency, Netizens, or their fandom.
At the time of this publication, many Korean and Chinese artists were recently able to safely offer in-person fan meetings and events however the South Korean government has upgraded their social distancing to Level 2 for the safety of fans and artists, so many December in-person events have been postponed.
Rachael Lovette is the Digital Director at Flower Bomb Media with a passion for everything K-Pop, fashion, model advocacy, and pop culture. Follow her on Instagram @kindofvoguish.