Thousands of K-Pop fans waited up in downtown Los Angeles hours before the doors opened, stretching for blocks in the hot sun for KCON LA 2023. K-Pop fans danced and traded homemade stickers, banners, bracelets, and photocards while wearing pleated skirts and platform shoes and carrying the transparent bags that have become stadium standards. Inside was their paradise: an IRL space where they could talk about their URL obsessions.
If anything, the 2023 LA KCON was a microcosm of K-pop’s overall impact on the music business.
From Friday to Sunday, an estimated 140,000 people from all over the world attended panels, premium meet-and-greets, interviews, dance breaks, concerts, and more at the Los Angeles Convention Centre and adjacent Crypto.com Arena.
Inside the convention centre, fans brandished light-sticks of their favourite groups, flaunted DIY shirts with simple, direct inscriptions like “I HEART MINGI,” gathered sticker books and K-beauty products and waited in line for tteokbokki.
According to Steve Chung, chief worldwide officer of organisers CJ ENM, KCON began 11 years ago in Irvine, California, gathering 10,000 people to its maiden celebration of Korean culture. It is now a global event taking place in several countries: KCON has already visited Thailand, Japan, and the United States in 2023.
“In those (11) years, we’ve welcomed something like half a million people from all over the world,” he explains.
Panels on K-pop songwriting and cup sleeve creations were held in Los Angeles (K-pop fan gatherings are hosted at cafes on an idol’s birthday, anniversary, or other important date). On one stage, up-and-coming groups such as NMIXX led dance courses, while another stage allowed rookie groups to introduce themselves to a larger audience.
The Associated Press met with a wide range of fans during the weekend, including some who drove 12 hours straight from Utah, flew in from the United Kingdom, and were of various ages, genders, colours, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“The culture of inclusiveness is huge,” said Annya Holston, 40, of Florida, who discovered K-pop through her daughter. “Being here has allowed us to make so many new friends.”
Premium tickets were $500 per day and included access to a “Red Carpet” area where acts posed for photographs and answered two or three questions in a 30-minute window, as well as admission to the conference and concert. Fans may spend an extra $100 for “Hi-Touch” — a fast meet-and-greet in which fans and performers high-five — with one group of their choice. With fresh fears about the spread of COVID-19, “Hi-Touch” became “Hi-Wave” (exactly what it sounds like, much to the sorrow of a few fans wishing for that physical connection; others were content with the sheer proximity).
Those encounters provided as a nice reminder of a component of the music industry that K-pop understands incredibly well, and much better than most: fanbase is the most profitable and durable resource in this business.
On Friday, August 18, 2023, fans attend KCON at the Los Angeles Convention Centre. Chris Pizzello/AP Photo
Peyton Tran, a 17-year-old dancer from Los Angeles, told AP at KCON, “It’s just cool to see how much people can support these businesses out here.”
The music industry will encounter new issues in 2023, including what Mark Mulligan, a MIDiA Research music industry analyst, has dubbed the “fragmentation of fandom.”
New musicians face unprecedented competition as a result of algorithmic listening, which is a direct result of the streaming era.
Consider this: It is uncommon for a new act to ascend to the status of monolithic pop star — the ranks of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Harry Styles, all of whom began performing prior to streaming — because listenership is hyper-specific.
In K-pop, where companies are typically fully integrated institutions — a record label and a talent agency rolled into one — and hyper-consumption is encouraged, business focuses on cultivating a community of superfans and inspiring those devoted listeners to advocate for their favourite artists, fueling a sense of participation that extends beyond their purchasing power. It doesn’t hurt that K-pop fans have a tendency to coordinate worldwide fan movements on their own and construct rituals and events, communicating through specialised fandom sites such as WeVerse and Vlive.
Niche does not imply small; rather, it signifies specialised. KCON is proof of this.
Fans saw K-pop groups and soloists from all “generations” perform at the concerts, which were held all three nights for the first time: Taemin from the second-generation boy band SHINee, Rain — the first K-pop idol to go international, and now a manager himself — fourth-generation boy bands ATEEZ and Stray Kids, and rookie groups like XG and ZEROBASEONE.
XG performed songs like the Kesha-inspired “TGIF,” with production greatly influenced by the current liquid drum-and-bass/U.K. garage movement in global pop music, a welcomed retro-futuristic sound from a group and convention with their sights set on the future.
Notably, these concerts prioritised K-pop girl groups, reflecting a recent shift in listenership. Boy bands were supposed to be more profitable in the past, but girl groups like IVE, ITZY, NMIXX, Kep1er, (G)I-DLE, and EVERGLOW proved that was outdated thinking in their spectacular KCON sets.
The “Dream Stage,” where a few dozen fans who auditioned to perform a dance with a K-pop group earlier in the day were brought out to do just that, was a particularly unique and powerful moment throughout the event.
On the second day of the convention, iHeartRadio’s KIIS-FM established a new, open-to-the-public “K-pop Village,” where K-pop fans could enjoy free performances by newer talents, such as LEO, who made his U.S. debut on the outdoor stage.
“2023 is similar to a crossover event.” “The last ten years have been about serving an endemic fanbase of people who already know and love K-pop,” Chung explains. “As evidenced by the iHeartMedia partnership, it’s really like a crossover moment where K-pop goes mainstream.”
Even Tropical Storm Hilary couldn’t keep the most ardent fans from queuing in the rain to watch their favourite performances on the convention’s last day. On the train the night before, the AP asked a K-pop fan from Massachusetts, known on YouTube as Toadcola, if he was worried about the weather. Not at all.
But if the weather cancelled his trip home, he reasoned that it wouldn’t be so bad because the idols might be stuck at the airport with him.
Spain Charges Pop Singer Shakira With Tax Evasion For A Second Time And Demands More Than $7 Million
BARCELONA, SPAIN — Spanish prosecutors have charged Colombian pop sensation Shakira with failing to pay 6.7 million euros ($7.1 million) in tax on her 2018 earnings, authorities announced Tuesday. This is Spain’s most recent fiscal accusation against the Colombian singer.
Prosecutors in Barcelona alleged in a statement that Shakira used an offshore company based in a tax refuge to avoid paying the tax.
According to the statement, she has been notified of the allegations in Miami, where she resides.
Shakira is already scheduled to be tried in Barcelona on November 20 for a separate case involving her residence between 2012 and 2014. Prosecutors allege she neglected to pay 14.5 million euros in taxes in this instance.
Prosecutors in Barcelona have asserted that the Grammy winner spent more than fifty percent of the 2012-2014 period in Spain and thus should have paid taxes in the country, even though her official residence was in the Bahamas.
Spanish prosecutors have charged Colombian pop sensation Shakira with failing to pay 6.7 million euros ($7.1 million) in tax on her 2018 earnings.
Last July, Spanish tax officials launched a new investigation against Shakira. Prosecutors have decided to file charges after reviewing the evidence compiled over the past two months. No trial date has been set.
Llorente y Cuenca, the public relations firm previously managing Shakira’s affairs, had no immediate comment.
Last July, it was stated that the artist had “always complied with the law and followed the advice of her financial advisors.”
Since she began dating the now-retired football player Gerard Pique, Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been linked to Spain. The couple, who have two children, resided in Barcelona until the end of their 11-year relationship last year.
In the past decade, Spain’s tax authorities have cracked down on football superstars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for not paying their entire tax obligations. These athletes were found guilty of tax evasion but were spared prison time due to a provision that enables judges to forego sentences of less than two years for first-time offenders.
SOURCE – (AP)
Usher To Headline The 2024 Super Bowl Halftime Show In Las Vegas
LOS ANGELES — Usher recently revealed that he will anchor the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show in Las Vegas.
On February 11, the NFL, Apple Music, and Roc Nation announced that Usher will headline the halftime festivities at Allegiant Stadium. The music superstar, who has won eight Grammys, expressed his eagerness to perform on the NFL’s grandest stage.
“It’s an honour of a lifetime to finally check a Super Bowl performance off my bucket list,” Usher said in a statement. “I cannot wait to give the world a performance unlike anything they’ve ever witnessed from me before.”
The album “Confessions,” which sold over 10 million copies in the United States and garnered him eight nominations and three Grammy Awards in 2005, served as the catalyst for Usher’s ascent to superstardom. Ray Charles’ final album, “Genius Loves Company,” published two months after the legend’s death, won Album of the Year.
“Confessions” is one of the best-selling music albums of all time and spawned multiple No. 1 singles, including “Yeah!” with Ludacris and Lil Jon, “Burn,” and “Confessions Part II.” His special edition album featured a duet with Alicia Keys entitled “My Boo,” a smooth success. The epic album will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year.
Usher, 44, is headlining his “Usher: My Way” residency in Las Vegas, earning rave reviews and sold-out performances. Sunday also marks the commencement of an eight-night run of performances in Paris. Usher is anticipated to conclude his Las Vegas residency in early December before performing at the Super Bowl halftime show a few months later.
Usher recently revealed that he will anchor the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show in Las Vegas.
The performer has served as a coach on NBC’s “The Voice” and has appeared in several films, such as “Hustlers” and “Light It Up.”
Jay-Z, the founder of Roc Nation, described Usher as the consummate “artist and showman.”
“Ever since his debut at the age of 15, he’s been charting his own unique course,” he said of Usher, whose self-titled debut album was released in 1994. He has released eight studio albums, including songs such as “U Got It Bad,” “U Remind Me,” “You Make Me Wanna,” “Nice & Slow,” and “Love In This Club” featuring Jeezy.
“Beyond his flawless singing and exceptional choreography, Usher bares his soul,” Jay-Z continued. “His extraordinary voyage has propelled him to one of the world’s grandest stages. I can’t wait to witness the wonder.”
The halftime performance will be co-executive produced by Emmy-winning producer Jesse Collins and Roc Nation. Director Hamish Hamilton returns. It’s the second time the NFL, Apple Music, and Roc Nation have worked together.
Usher recently revealed that he will anchor the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show in Las Vegas.
Last year, a pregnant Rihanna performed a spectacular halftime display while suspended from a platform above the field – her first solo performance in seven years.
Apple’s Vice President of Apple Music, Apple TV+, Sports, and Beats, Oliver Schusser, said, “We are so proud of what we were able to accomplish with the NFL and Roc Nation last year, and with Usher set to take the stage, we’re looking forward to another incredible Halftime Show from one of the world’s all-time greatest performers.”
He will join the likes of Beyoncé, Madonna, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, U2, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and Katy Perry, who have performed at Super Bowl halftime performances.
“Usher is an icon whose music has left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape throughout his career,” said NFL Head of Music Seth Dudowsky.
SOURCE – (AP)
BTS Member Suga Begins Alternative 18 Month Military Service In South Korea
SEOUL, South Korea – Suga, a member of the K-pop supergroup BTS, began his mandatory military service as a social service representative on Friday, an alternative form of military service in South Korea.
Suga, age 30, became the third member of the group to begin performing military duties. The remaining two, Jin and J-Hope, are already serving in active duty at army bases.
“I will faithfully serve and return… Please remain healthy and we’ll see you all in 2025!” Suga wrote in a message posted to the Weverse online fan community.
Big Hit Music, the management agency for BTS, reported that Suga began commuting to a workplace designated under the alternative military service system.
Due to threats from North Korea, all able-bodied males in South Korea must serve in the army, navy, or air force for 18 to 21 months under a conscription system. For 21 months, individuals with physical and mental impairments can perform their duties at non-military facilities such as welfare centers, community service organizations, and post offices.
Local media reported that Suga’s alternative service in 2020 was presumably related to shoulder surgery.
Suga, a member of the K-pop supergroup BTS, began his mandatory military service as a social service representative on Friday.
Active duty soldiers must complete five weeks of fundamental military training at boot camps before beginning service. According to the Military Manpower Administration, those performing alternative service must complete three weeks of basic military training and have the option to choose when to do so.
Unknown was the facility where Suga began serving. In a statement released earlier this week, BTS’s management agency, Bit Hit Music, asked Suga’s admirers not to visit him at work during his military service.
Big Hit Music requested that warm regards and encouragement be conveyed only in their souls. “We ask for your continued love and support for (Suga) until he completes his service and returns.”
Last year, a heated public debate erupted over whether BTS members should be exempt from their mandatory military obligations. However, the group’s administration agency ultimately reported that all seven members would meet their obligations.
South Korean law exempts athletes, classical and traditional musicians, ballet dancers, and other dancers if they have contributed to the nation’s prestige. K-pop performers do not qualify for the special exemption.
SOURCE – (AP)
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