Asia News: Ticketed Streams, Fundraising Stickers, April Fools Miss, Supersonic

Japanese Company Offering Ticketed Livestreams

Japan’s newest ticketing startup, Zaiko, has begun offering “ticketed livestreams” to all its entertainment clients.

In a recent press release, the company’s CEO, Malek Nasser, explained that his company “recognized that the entire event related industry had ground to a halt because of COVID-19, so we decided to swiftly build a solution to save an industry we love.”

The ticketing service, which already supports six languages and four currencies, allows fans a chance to donate to their favorite artists while enjoying streamed concerts. “More importantly to artists,” says Nasser, “Zaiko is a white label solution, allowing full branding and data retention.”

The company tested its new system with the Japanese indie group cero, whose latest tour finale was supposed to take place at a 700-capacity venue but was cancelled because of the coronavirus emergency. Zaiko devised a way to create a ticketed stream so that fans could watch the show online from home.

Though the public only had two-days notice, more than 3,500 people watched the live performance.

Zaiko uses what it calls Stickits, branded tokens that are visible at the bottom of the streaming video, allowing viewers to “tip” the performers during the show.

Stickits remain on the fan’s page after the show and become collectibles. There is also a button called “Conversations” on the screen that enables both fans and performers to use Twitter hashtags to discuss the show in real time. According to Zaiko executive Josh Barry, “Twitter exploded during the cero event with fans posting photos of themselves enjoying the event and their live viewing set-up at home.” As a result, Zaiko received a “rush of inquiries from other musicians, sports teams, and venues.”

Zaiko says that the introduction of 5G networks to Japan this year will enhance the full effect of live streaming capabilities, bringing virtual reality and multi-camera streaming to online content, thus providing a “second stream of income” for all events and “amplifyng the in-person experience.”

“A livestream will never replace a real world event,” says Nasser, “but there is currently a real world need and in the future, as the world recovers from COVID-19, we will see live streaming tickets selling alongside real world entry as an easy way for fans to attend a show from far away.”

Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images
– Kim Jae-Joong
Kim Jae-Joong of South Korean boy band JYJ poses for fans after he was discharged from military service on December 30, 2016 in Yongin, South Korea.

April Fools Joke About Coronavirus Misses Mark

Kim Jae-joong of the K-pop boy band JYJ is in hot water for an April Fools joke that backfired badly.

In March, he released his third single as a solo artist in Japan, where he is more popular than he is in his native Korea. In April he was scheduled to appear on various televised music shows in Japan to promote the song.

However, those appearances were cancelled after Kim announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus on April 2. Later on the same day, though, he revealed that he was not infected.

According to the Korea Herald, Kim explained on his social media account, “I posted a joke but I do not think it is only an April Fool’s joke. I did it to alert people” to the seriousness of being careful in terms of social distancing and observing proper sanitation practices.

Needless to say, the “joke” did not go over well. More than 13,000 people signed a petition asking the authorities to somehow punish Kim for making a false statement on a “government online public petition platform.”

In response, Kim wrote on his Instagram account, “I sincerely apologize to the government, medical staff and people who are following the government’s guidelines to overcome the coronavirus situation for upsetting their feelings.”

The government responded to the petition by saying that regardless of the tastelessness of Kim’s joke, it did not break any laws, since he did not present any subterfuge directly to a medical professional.

Stickers Sold To Benefit Live Houses

Another gambit to help support the flagging live music industry in Japan is physical stickers that are sold to provide revenue for closed “live houses,” the term commonly used for small concert clubs in Japan.

A group of live house devotees has devised a sticker with the words “Live houses [will] never die” in Japanese script and distributed them to about 50 clubs throughout Japan where they will be sold for 1,000 yen ($9.20) a piece in order to raise funds.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, one of the instigators of the project, a man who sells classic cars in central Japan, said “Live music clubs were part of our lives as we were growing up, and now they are bearing the brunt of criticism for being a source of cluster infections.”

The 5,000 stickers will be available in six different designs, and each club will receive 100 of them. Supporters told the Mainichi that they understand that the stickers are not a permanent solution to the problem but nevertheless want to “give something back to the clubs.” If the campaign is a success, the promoters say they will print and sell more stickers.

Summer Sonic 2015
– Summer Sonic 2015
during Zedd’s set

Supersonic Unveils Initial Lineup

Creativeman, the major Japanese concert promoter, announced April 1 the first set of artists who will appear at its Supersonic festival in September.

Creativeman organizes the Summer Sonic festival in Tokyo and Osaka every August, but because of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, this year’s event was called off, so instead the company initiated Supersonic, which will take place Sept. 19-21 at the same venues where Summer Sonic is usually held. Among the acts announced so far are The 1975, Liam Gallagher, Fatboy Slim, Post Malone, Skrillex, Wu-Tang Clan, Digitalism and Ian Brown.

Since the Olympics itself has been postponed until the summer of 2021, Creativeman’s endeavors take on a whole new meaning. On the one hand, it might seem to be to Creativeman’s advantage that the festival is being held a month later than Summer Sonic usually is, since it’s not known if the emergency brought on by the coronavirus will have subsided by the end of summer.

On the other hand, Makuhari Messe, the main Tokyo venue for Summer Sonic and Supersonic, will have to clear its schedule again in 2021 for planned Olympic events, meaning Supersonic may become more of a regular thing than initially planned. Then again, the coronavirus situation may still be an emergency in September.

Coincidentally, Fuji Rock, the other big summer international music festival in Japan, announced its second group of acts for 2020. Like Creativeman, Fuji’s organizer, Smash Inc., is holding its signature mountain rock festival a month after its usual date, due to the Olympics, which means it is taking place at the end of August, a date that many in the media say may not be late enough.

In any case, the latest announcement implies it’s full steam ahead. Among the new acts appearing at Fuji in August are Four Tet, Voodoo Dead, Bruno Major, Hinds and Gogo Penguin.