K-Pop stars BTS set an official world record earlier this year when they attracted more than 756,000 paying fans to their ‘Bang Bang Con’ livestreamed concert. Last weekend’s ‘Map of the Soul ON:E’ concerts outdid that though: 993,000 fans bought tickets for the two-day event.
Details of how much money was generated from ticket sales have not yet been announced. As we reported last month, various tickets were available for the concerts and the month-long virtual exhibition that’s following them – ranging from 49k won ($41.75) for a one-day ticket without exhibition access, to 101k won ($86.09) for a two-day ticket plus exhibition. These were the general-public prices, with members of the BTS fan club getting discounts.
Suffice to say, it made a packet, but the concerts weren’t just commercially successful. They were creatively innovative too with performances across four stages; a choice of six camera angles; live cinema screenings in Japan; and fans shown on screen during the concerts. This is stadium-scale livestreaming, and while inaccessible to most artists, it’s being watched closely well beyond South Korea, as the biggest artists’ teams lay their plans for 2021.
There’s a sense of continued creative experimentation at the moment. Besides BTS, the last day brought news of a planned virtual reality concert from Janelle Monáe, to close the first season of HBO TV drama Lovecraft County and its spin-off “series of events consisting of immersive theater, escape rooms, art installations and puzzles via the Oculus Quest headset”.
Meanwhile, the Jonas Brothers are planning a concert with tech brand Lenovo including a fan-voted setlist, ‘digital keepsakes’, visuals and merchandise designed by fans and more. Not every artist can all upon nearly a million ticket-buying fans like BTS can for their livestreams, but there’s a confluence of tech platforms, brand budgets and artist visions that’s creating some good opportunities for prominent artists, at least.