Asia News: BTS Management Goes Public, Incheon Drive-In Festival & More
Big Hit Goes Public
In terms of music, 2020 has been the year of BTS and the K-Pop band’s label and management company, Big Hit Entertainment, pretty much made it official last week by issuing 135,000 shares publicly on South Korea’s biggest stock market, raising the equivalent of $822 million in the process, thus making it the largest IPO in South Korea in three years.
More to the point, the value of the company came to $4.1 billion, thus instantly making all 7 members of BTS millionaires (each has 68,385 shares) and Big Hit’s CEO, Bang Si-hyuk, the man credited with creating BTS in 2013, a billionaire.
The shares, which Korean news site Soompi has reported are more than 1,000 times oversubscribed, will start trading on Oct. 15. In addition, news of the IPO has boosted the share price of other entertainment-related stocks in South Korea.
What perhaps makes the listing unique in the world is that it gives the band’s thousands of Korean fans, known internationally as the Army, a chance to participate in the financial good fortune, since they will now be able to buy and trade shares in Big Hit.
One Army member told Reuters that, while she didn’t know anything about “stock valuations,” she asked her parents to buy stock in Big Hit. Another said he planned to take out a personal loan just so that he could buy stock in the company. Media outlets predict that activity by the Army alone should drive the stock price into the stratosphere.
Last year, Big Hit’s revenues topped $500 million, with $84 million in operating profit.
BTS has released three No. 1 albums and is set to release another one on Nov. 20.
The COVID crisis has cut deeply into their profit this year by preventing them from touring the world, but the group has already pioneered paid virtual online concerts that have been successful, and is set to hold another on Oct. 10 and 11 called Map of the Soul ON:E.
Unfortunately, the offline component of the concert that had been planned has been called off due to recent spikes in coronavirus cases within South Korea. According to the Korea Herald, the online concert will feature augmented reality and extended reality software technology with high-definition content to offer a “scale equivalent to an offline concert.”
In addition, the performance will be offered from six different camera angles on a real-time basis.
Not to be outdone, one of Big Hit’s main competitors, S.M. Entertainment, has declared that it is making plans to adapt to the so-called contactless era by concentrating more on intellectual properties (IP).
During a speech at the MU:CON Online gathering sponsored by the Korea Creative Content Agency on Sept. 25, S.M. CEO Lee Sung-soo compared his company’s plan for its K-Pop business to what Disney has achieved worldwide with IP content. Lee mentioned S.M.’s boy band SuperM, which is collaborating with Marvel Studios in the rollout of merchandise for the band’s new album, which presents the group as the “K-pop Avengers,” since it is a supergroup consisting of members from four other S.M. groups. Lee also touted his company’s pioneering paid online concerts, which S.M. was presenting even before the COVID crisis. He predicts that K-Pop overall will lead the world in contactless entertainment services.
Incheon To Host Drive-In Festival
Drive-in concerts have finally arrived in South Korea, which will hold a drive-in music festival in Incheon on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The 2020 Korea Music Drive-in Festival will take place at the city’s International Passenger Terminal.
The festival will feature both K-Pop artists and indie bands and trot singers.
Trot is a pop music style that developed after World War II, derived in part from Japanese enka, and which has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity lately.
The lineup has yet to be announced, but all the major entertainment companies, including Big Hit Entertainment, have pledged their participation. The event will be livestreamed worldwide.
Hong Kong Disneyland Reopens Again
Hong Kong Disneyland reopened on Sept. 25 for the first time since July, when COVID cases in the Chinese city spiked anew.
For the time being the park will be open for guests five days a week (closed Tuesdays and Thursdays) with capacity restrictions and added health measures, including temperature checks, mandatory face masks and social distancing. Visitors will have to preregister online.
The park initially closed last January and then reopened in June, only to be shut down by local operators in July. Hong Kong officials now say that the virus is mostly under control in the territory, with only six new confirmed cases announced on Sept. 15. Another Hong Kong theme park, Ocean Park, also reopened recently.
Singapore Allows Music In Places Of Worship
While concerts have not fully resumed in Singapore, the government seems to be testing the waters for reopening the city by allowing live music in places of worship, though on a limited basis.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) is, according to Channel News Asia, launching a pilot program for some religious services of up to 250 people.
The services can feature no more than 10 musicians on stage at a time, and of these musicians no more than 5 can be unmasked. If the performance space is indoors, then no more than 2 musicians, presumably singers, can be unmasked.
Prescribed distances must be observed between each person on stage, and at least 3 meters of space must be guaranteed between the performers and the audience. The congregation must wear masks and can only verbally respond to the peformance with spoken words, meaning they are not allowed to sing.
The program is open to Hindu temples, Christian churches, Gurdwaras (Sikh), Buddhist temples and Taoist temples. The MCCY also encourages the use of partitions and barriers to keep proper social distancing among worshippers. Also, care should be taken with regard to services that are not presented on a scheduled basis, but rather are “transient” in nature.
Limits of 30 persons for funerals and 50 persons for religious classes will remain in effect.
All religious services were suspended in the city last March and were allowed to resume in June, but were limited to 50 people at a time.