Talent Is in the Metaverse, And Born There

Isegye Idol, a six-member virtual girl group that debuted in December, reached No. [YOUTUBE CAPTURE]

Isegye Idol, a virtual group of women, has gone where no other virtual action has taken place before: at the top of the music charts.

The most famous Korean cyber-singers of the past, like Adam and Lusia in the 1990s, hardly called one-hit wonders: they disappeared shortly after their creation.

The success of the six members of Isegye Idol shows that the time for cyber-stardom has arrived-and that the metaverse is perhaps evolving into the best arena in the entertainment world.

Isegye Idol was formed in August by a Korean online personality calling himself Woowakgood, who streams live playing games on YouTube and Twitch.
He debuted in December 2021 with the single “Rewind”, which reached No. 1 on the local music charts.

The song reached No. 1 on Bugs Music on the day of its release and ranked No. 1 on the Gaon Chart for the number of downloads.
It was ranked 36th on the Melon Top 100 chart and surpassed 5.8 million views at the end of April.

Woowakgood’s project to create a virtual idol group began in June 2021 and he made it a public scene, starting auditions for people to sing his songs through a online virtual global platform called VRChat.

Woowakgood posted the auditions on his YouTube and Twitch channels, and even allowed fans to vote for the final members, such as “American Idol” or Mnet’s hit show, “Produce 101.”

Fans are also invited to participate in other parts of the idol-making process such as songwriting and song arrangements, the kind of participation that they only feverishly crave in the works of the flesh.and blood created by entertainment agencies .

In fact, as the auditions have suggested, the members of Isegye Idol are not completely virtual. There is a human talent hidden behind these metaverse pixels: their voices and personalities are both from real performers.

The success of Isegye Idol has prompted entertainment companies like SM, JYP, YG, and HYBE to invest in the metaverse world.

Last month, HYBE wrote to its shareholders to say it had merged Weverse, its K-pop fan community platform, with Naver V Live, Naver’s live streaming service app, to launch Weverse 2.0. at the end of the year.

The fan community platforms are more of a metaverse platform, and HYBE makes money through its Weverse online store on the platform that sells and sells artist.

SM and JYP have updated the DearU bubble, a chat room service that connects artists and fans, hosted by their subsidiary DearU.

SM Entertainment owns the largest stake in DearU, 33.66%, and JYP owns 19.5%.
JYP, HYBE, and YG have also invested in Naver Z’s metaverse platform, Zepeto.

According to HYBE, its revenue from intellectual property, licensing and platform activity, which does not include the direct participation of artists, will account for 58.3% of total sales in 2021. Songs, performances, and copyrighted advertisements include others.

Weverse Company generated 258.7 billion won ($ 205.6 million) in revenue last year, nearly half of HYBE. Revenue increased 20 times from 14.4 billion won in 2018.

SM’s metaverse platform DearU Bubble posted revenue of 40 billion wins last year, up 206% per year.

The global metaverse market will grow at an annual rate of 10% to reach 376 trillion wins by 2024, according to Mirae Asset Securities.

“For entertainment companies that do business on metaverse platforms, artist lines and the ability to attract multiple fans are important,” said Song Beom-yong, a researcher at Mirae Asset Securities. “The industry will be able to grow further by hosting hybrid concerts and selling virtual objects.”

NI BAE JUNG-WON, CHO JUNG-WOO [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]

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