There’s no denying that BTS have captured the hearts of millions of ARMY around the world.
I’m happy to report that BTS gained another fan after I tuned in to their BTS: Permission to Dance on Stage – Seoul livestream. The K-pop group features seven superstars – Jungkook, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, RM, Jin and V – who all were incredibly eager to return to the stage and create a euphoric atmosphere for ARMY.
In March, BTS performed at Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea over the course of three dates. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Seoul, the capacity was restricted to 15, 000 masked, and silent, fans per night. No screaming or singing was allowed. It sounds like a dull event; however, the stadium shows were in high demand and naturally, sold out. Multiple livestream times (to cater to international time-zones) and multiple viewings were available to fans online, as well as one-night-only screenings in over 3000 cinemas around the world.
Fortunately, I was able to watch the livestream rebroadcast the following week.
(Biggest thank you to my amazing friend, and Lovers of Live follower, Jackie!)
The online stream experience was flawless – no connection issues, no loss of quality. English subtitles were available for fans, and the pre-show entertainment consisted of BTS music videos, sponsorships and even segments dedicated to raising awareness for climate change. The chat feature within the livestream enabled fans to engage with each other before, during and after the livestream, making us all feel united despite the distance. Another feature, which I’ve never witnessed in a livestream, was the “clapping” feature – a button which could be clicked and signified that as a fan, you were clapping along with the show. This button had over 11 million clicks by the end of the 3-hour event, only adding to the excitement of the experience.
Another factor that made the BTS livestream so different to others I’d witnessed during the pandemic, was the FULL stage production. With the event being held in a stadium, there was no holding back. The 20+ song set featured multiple costume changes, fireworks, pyro, confetti, state of the art screens, mesmerising lighting effects, a full band, and a troupe of dancers accompanying BTS. BTS themselves were on their finest form sounding as smooth as ever and dancing as sharp as ever.
The cinematography of the livestream was actually insane. It managed to capture the scale of the stage and stadium (including crowd shots), yet the stream felt intimate as viewers were treated to close-ups and selfie-angles of their favourite BTS members. Watching the livestream on my laptop gave me goose bumps, so I can’t even imagine how impressive it would have been to witness live within the stadium, or on a large cinema screen. The production level was next-level and very reminiscent of a movie.
In this sense, the BTS livestream reminded me of concert tour DVDS – only instead of them being filmed, edited, and distributed months after the event, livestreams are immediate.
Over the past five years, livestreams have become far more inclusive and authentic, creating experiences for fans that feel reminiscent of the culture experienced and concerts and festivals.
They’re also a great business move. The BTS online livestream ticket cost approx. $65 AUD, the cinema ticket approx. $40 AUD. That’s not including the 45, 000 tickets sold to fans who attended the concert physically in Olympic Stadium, Seoul. Via cinema ticket sales alone, BTS’ one-night-only broadcast raked in over $32 million at the Global Box Office!
With BTS proving that livestreams being screened in cinema entices fans to experience live music this way, the future of streaming is looking brighter than ever.
Over the next five years, I would not be surprised to see more BTS events being held in the same manner. I also believe other artists will follow suite.
In cinemas, fans are somewhat restricted by the seating arrangements – like a seated concert. For this reason, I also believe it would be incredible if during the next five years, such livestream events are held in live music venues – allowing space for a dancefloor and a screen to be broadcasting the livestream in question. This would only enhance the experience for fans, as crowds would mirror that of a concert, the sound system would be just as impressive and the livestream would be even more memorable and electric.
Venues, such as Oxford Art Factory in Sydney, Australia, regularly hold “On-Repeat” or themed club nights that see DJs playing specific genres or artists to a club-crowd that is eager to dance and see videos of their favourite artists being played on the stage screen. This is what inspired my prediction for future livestreams. If club nights like these are successful (and I’ve been to many, they’re so much fun) then I believe that the future of livestreams will become even more like concerts. Fans will have access to their favourite artists and bands, even when they’re performing live on a stage on the other side of the world – and the best part? They’ll be able to experience the livestream set surrounded by other fans, unified, excited, and ready to dance through every song streamed.
Livestreams have been the main tool utilised to satisfy the quench for live music throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many artists resorted to performing live from their home or an empty studio, feeling the absence of a crowd due to safety. BTS spoke of this experience on stage, repeatedly saying that they missed ARMY and were thankful to be performing to them in-person again, overcoming restrictions, because their absence made performances feel awkward and lonely. BTS said they felt like they’d returned home, and the meaning of this was not lost on viewers, as the experience felt historic.
It’s not only fans that are grateful for COVID-safe concerts, evidently artists are as well.
BTS proved to me they care about their fans, not just in terms of their music and performance value, but also their safety. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world, and despite live music very much being back in action, there remains risk in contracting the virus at large scale events. All fans attending the outdoor, stadium concert in Seoul were required to wear masks, were repeatedly told not to scream, or sing, and instead, were given “clappers” to make as much noise as possible.
Although the livestream was dubbed with an audience screaming (much like the laugh tracks you hear in sitcoms), the sound of the clappers strangely felt just as thrilling as audience screams. It reminded you that BTS fans were in attendance and were excited. After experiencing the loss of live music, the absence of BTS on stage, the gratitude expressed and felt at concerts now is euphoric.
This format for a concert is noteworthy, as it proved that despite COVID-19 still being a concern, there are ways for live music events to go ahead in a COVID-safe manner. It’s almost reassuring in a way, knowing that if the next five years are turbulent due to the pandemic, live music can still exist in some form.
All you need are masks, clappers, and a crowd as passionate as BTS fans…oh and don’t forget the livestreams!