K-pop boy band SuperM thrills fans as it performs concert online during coronavirus pandemic

Fans from 109 countries watch, recording 120 million hearts on social media.

SEOUL, South Korea -- On Sunday afternoon, K-pop boy band SuperM thrilled fans in 109 countries with a spectacular live online performance, paving the way for a future of paid concerts.

SM Entertainment, South Korea's largest entertainment company, kicked off its first of four in the Beyond Live series of online K-pop concerts Sunday. No lining up in front of a stadium, no need to worry about securing an expensive seat to watch your favorite boy band, whose members come from several popular groups in Asia.

K-pop has marked a new era of live concerts with state-of-the-art AR technology and real-time communication amid the coronavirus outbreak. There was no audience in the auditorium. Instead, the concert was broadcast live to all paid-ticket holders around the world.

The concert received an explosive response from fans around the globe, recording 120 million hearts on social media through its broadcasting platform, Naver V Live.

SuperM first made its debut in Hollywood backed by Capital Records and SM Entertainment last fall. The band's intent was raising the bar for K-pop, according to Rolling Stone magazine. They recently completed a sold-out North American tour, taking them to various U.S. and Canadian cities. Now the group is quarantining together.

A total of 75,000 tickets were sold at $29.99, according to SM Entertainment. "Given that around 10,000 people come to an idol concert each time, it marks 7.5 times the amount of a regular offline concert, demonstrating the immense growth potential as a new concert business," noted the company.

The concert grabbed audiences’ attention using augmented reality (AR) effects, with the artists performing on stages before virtual reality backgrounds. During SuperM’s unveiling of their new song "Tiger Inside," for instance, an AR technology-implemented tiger ran across the stage.

In between sets, real-time communication was available. Viewers could write down questions, and SuperM members read out loud the messages on an online chat room. Some fans were even given a chance to ask questions through telecommunication during the show.

“It seems like the K-pop industry stepped up from a one-way experience of listening to good music to a whole new interaction experience,” Jiyun Choi, who purchased a merchandise bundle of photo cards and tickets for the concert, told ABC News. “The AR tigers in one of the stages represented its theme so well, which was probably only possible in an online concert environment.”

A Live Sync camera walk made the virtual concert seem more realistic, giving the audience the feeling that the artists were performing right in front of fans.

“SuperM restructured the choreography to bring up the potential of the camera following the action for their first live online concert, which really differentiated their stage from the original gig,” K-pop enthusiast Sunny Han told ABC News. “But I see there’s some room to improve on telecommunication between the artist and fans regarding translation and connectivity.”

Transmitting a live concert of this size was possible due to the stable internet in South Korea. But during the two-way chats with fans, there were brief moments of stutters for fans located abroad.

Following SuperM, the concert series is scheduled to continue with other SM Entertainment groups: WayV on May 3, NCT DREAM on May 10, and NCT 127 on May 17 local time.

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