Asia News: Anthony Wong; SEVENTEEN Tix Prices; International Artists Surge; Malaysia Govt. Talks Scalping

Seventeen In Concert Irving, TX
SEVENTEEN: Scalpers driving up ticket prices for an upcoming tour with K-pop sensation Seventeen has outraged fans and prompted the Malaysian government to consider laws against the practice. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)


Anthony Wong Canceled By Venue

An August concert by the cantopop singer-songwriter Anthony Wong has been unilaterally cancelled by the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, where it was scheduled to take place. Wong himself stated via social media that his application to book the venue last January was accepted, but that he has since received a letter from the HKCEC saying that it was refusing to lease him the space.

Wong openly supported the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement and the 2019 protests against the government’s extradition bills. He says that the company that managed the HKCEC did not give him a reason he couldn’t proceed with the concert in the letter he received from them on May 25. According to Wong, the letter read, “We are sorry to inform you that we are not in a position to proceed with the execution of the license agreement and the provision of venue for the event.”

Wong said he applied to “various venues” in Hong Kong since his last show in December and that he will tour overseas “in the meantime.” He also said that after receiving the original application the HKCEC management told him the audience “could not stand up during the concert.”

“They did not give reasons,” said Wong, “but actually we all know what the reason is.” He said that even after his application was approved his team knew that the concert could be canceled at any time and yet went ahead with planning.

The cancellation was first reported by the Hong Kong Free Press.


Seventeen Ticket Prices Spark Backlash

There has been further backlash in South Korea from K-pop fans who are angered by the steep increase in concert ticket prices since the end of the pandemic, according to the K-pop fansite Allkpop.

The latest complaint was aimed at HYBE, the company that manages the No. 1 K-pop band in the world, BTS. HYBE announced ticket sales for another of its acts, Seventeen, which will hold a “Return to Seoul” concert in July. Prices were steeply higher than they were for the group’s concert last year in Seoul by as much as 18 percent.

Moreover, the tickets, even for members of the group’s official fan club who can access pre-sale tickets, come with processing and other fees. A fan club member can only apply for one ticket, either VIP or general, for only one of the two concerts, and they will not be able to select seats.


International Acts Surge Post-COVID

Kaori Hayashi, the CEO of Hayashi International Promotions (or H.I.P., as it’s popularly known), one of Japan’s major concert promoters, acknowledged that the post-pandemic recovery for international artists in Japan “has been spectacular.”

Though Japanese acts still account for almost 90 percent of all tickets sold for live music events in Japan, international acts have made a bolder comeback in terms of sales than have domestic acts.

According to Hayashi, in an interview with Music Business Worldwide, said, “The recovery for domestic artists has been [slow], but we expect next year to see a full return to 2019 levels. However, the recovery for international acts has already reached pre-pandemic levels. Consequently, Live Nation has recently been talking about gaining greater involvement in the Japanese concert business, since Japan is the second biggest music market in the world.”

Hayashi says that the best way for international acts to “cross over” to domestic music fans is to integrate Japanese music into their shows, and cites Bruno Mars as a prime example. H.I.P. promoted five shows for Mars at Tokyo Dome last year and sold more than 200,000 tickets.

In addition to Mars, H.I.P. has also presented concerts by Maroon 5, The Weeknd, U2, Taylor Swift, Ozzfest and Slipknot’s Knotfest extravaganza. Hayashi says the biggest challenge right now is securing venues for international artists. Major Japanese artists often book large venues up to two years in advance, effectively squeezing out some international artists.


Government Talks Scalping Law

As tickets for Coldplay concerts in Southeast Asia this fall continue to go for exorbitant prices on secondary ticketing sites, the Malaysia government has started discussions on implementing a scalping prevention law, according to a report in the Straits Times.

The Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry gave a press conference May 23 with Fahmi Fadzil, the communications and digital minister, who said the government was investigating the situation surrounding the scalping of Coldplay tickets in order to find ways to prevent such occurrences in the future.

“There are currently no anti-scalping laws [in Malaysia],” he said. “In countries like the U.S. and Australia, there are agencies that handle…scalping incidents. We will study their initiatives as well.”

The day before, Fahmi had met with the Coldplay concert organizer, Live Nation Malaysia, and learned that e-tickets for the concert had yet to be released, so anyone who had bought ticket online and already received their tickets should report it to the ministry.