The unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 virus have left the world reeling as it tries to cope while restoring a semblance of normality. One such effort towards recreating what once was is the soaring rise of online content, especially online concerts. The usual summer is packed with concerts and music festivals yet the summer of 2020 was looking bleak in all ways imaginable until online concerts swooped in for the rescue. While these are obviously no equal alternative to real concerts, they’re a good enough supplement to keep the presence of an artist relevant while also boosting the morale of millions of people all across the world who need that little pick me up from their favorite artists to make it through difficult times.
The first and possibly the biggest advantage of an online concert is the fact that it is not spatially bound. The world truly becomes a stage, much like Shakespeare had predicted. With the internet reaching almost every corner of the world, concerts also reach a worldwide audience in the same instance. In essence, what this means is, an entire world tour is condensed to one single online concert. Therefore, the expenses incurred by said concert are also marginally lower than a real concert. This allows for an expansion in the budget which accounts for the costs of live streaming equipment, multi-view screens, special effects, stage lights, and other such paraphernalia. The cast and crew employed for actual concerts can still have work on their hands even if they’re not physically organizing a concert for an online concert requires just as much effort and production value. Another factor that adds to the budget for an online concert is ticket sales. As there are no limits to how many people can tune in to attend the concert, there are no limits to ticket sales. Usually, during online K-Pop concerts, there is almost always an interactive session that is planned in order to enhance the factor of proximity and closeness even if fans and artists are miles apart. Rookie groups that are holding online fan meetings and concerts such as The Boyz and ONEWE are also advertising themselves and their concert experiences. A fan that attends an online concert is much more likely to attend a live one whenever time allows for it in the future.
BTS 'Bang Bang Con [The Live]' was an immense success and strategically planned right after testing out the “live concert” medium via Bang Bang Con weekend concerts a while before announcing the live version. The former Bang Bang Con was carried out via live streaming 8 of BTS’ past concerts over the weekend of April 18-19, 2020. The eight-part concert series was available to stream for free on BTS’ official Youtube channel BANGTAN TV. The overwhelming success of this series perhaps provided a calculated gauge of the numbers that could be taken into consideration for a completely never seen before online concert's. This was the next logical step as it was announced soon after that BTS would be holding their first-ever online concert Bang Bang Con: The Live on June 14, 2020. Over 756,600 ARMYs came together over 107 countries for this much-needed boost of positivity amid a global crisis. The concert featured a 14 song set-list with endearing segments of the pre-recorded breaks and talk show like segments peppered in. The content was paid for but it still attracted the largest audience for a paid virtual concert ever.
During this time, SM announced that Beyond LIVE would launch with a series of online live concerts for four of its most prominent boy groups: SuperM, WayV, NCT Dream, and NCT 127. Super M’s 'Beyond The Future' concert had already been broadcast live on April 26, 2020, via the V-Line app in over 109 countries. This was followed by NCT Dream, WayV, and NCT 127, giving NCTzens all over the world an opportunity to watch their favorite artists up close and personal, almost as if every one of them had front row tickets to an actual concert.
Fans were amazed by how incredible the stage effects and use of SFX was arranged to give the concert a 4D feel. Twitter was flooded by tweets of just how amazing the production value was which perhaps wouldn’t be achievable for a real concert. It was no surprise however that Neo Culture Technology would come through with the most innovative ways to make a virtual concert top tier.
Interactive challenges integrated into the program allowed artists to chat with fans in real-time while also seeing their reactions. It is absolutely precious to see fans talk directly with their idols as well as vice versa. A simple moment turns to something you remember for the rest of your life. The internet never dies, so, in a sense, that moment is locked in time forever.
On the other side of the screen, however, the compromise is of the same degree. Nothing can replace the energy and hype of performing in front of a live crowd but the significance of being able to do something that brightens even one person’s day surely fills them with enough gratitude to make them want to do this over and over again if need be. Even more, than being a way to promote, a concert is a strangely spiritual experience where artists get to come together with fans whose lives they might have changed in ways unimaginable. Similarly, having the career of an artist and creating music is healing and life-changing to the artists as well. What comes from all of this is the fact that while real concerts are undoubtedly irreplaceable, online concerts are contributing hugely to maintaining the collective sanity of artists and consumers all over the world. Keeping this in mind, it certainly seems justifiable for online concerts to live on long after the virus is gone. A whole new avenue has just opened up for sharing art and it would be a pity if artists let go of it.
SBS has already announced their 2020 Super Concert ‘2020 Super On:tact’ with an incredible line up of artists including ITZY, STRAY KIDS, and Monsta X on the first day itself, and fans are eagerly anticipating the announcement of other artists to come. A concert that could previously be attended by Koreans only is now open to the world. The Boyz are all set to greet their fans with 'The Boyz Online Concert: [RE:AL]' in September 2020, AB6IX’s online concert ‘SO VIVID’ is almost here, due to take place on 12th of September 2020 and IZ*ONE is also preparing hard for their online concert ‘ONEIRIC THEATRE’ on September 13, 2020.
With new live events and concerts coming up every other day, we sincerely hope fans across the world will stay safe and well in the comfort of their own homes.