Minor K-pop investment plays get attention as next HYBE sought
Investors are going to great lengths to get a piece of the K-pop action, taking flyers on the most improbable of start-ups doing business somehow connected to the business of boy bands and girl groups.
They are pouring money into companies developing technologies and services related to fans, intellectual property and performances.
Jim Rogers has invested an unspecified amount in Levoist, which operates the We X online K-pop investment service.
His daughters are fans of Blackpink, he has said, and earlier this year, he suggested a K-pop concert at the DMZ in a conversation with then-presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party.
We X is a service where users can trade "neighboring rights" of a K-pop track.
Neighboring rights are secondary copyrights given to producers, performers or broadcasters. Online services that trade these rights have been developed recently. Levoist buys and then divides the neighboring rights of a song to sell to users. Buyers receive fractional royalties.
Since the service started in 2020, over 2,000 users from 50 countries have taken part in the trading.
Among other major investors in Levoist are Hdac Technology and T Investment.
KTOWN4U received 50 billion won ($40 million) from LB Investment, KB Securities and SJ Investment Partners on April 10.
The company connects fan clubs with shopping malls specializing in K-pop merchandise, potentially catering to over 200 million people. It has 4.2 million members as of this month and broke 200 billion won in revenue last year.
Fanding recently received 2 billion won of investment and Web 3.0 1.5 billion won. Both services offer direct communication between stars and fans.
Game publisher Com2uS bought a 58.47 percent stake in MyMusicTaste, a local concert organizer, for an unspecified amount.
MyMusicTaste organizes concerts for K-pop artists by predicting demand for a performance by analyzing data. It also receives requests from fans on which city they would like an artist to perform in.
Around 2.61 million users from 100 countries have joined the service with their phone numbers. Over 97 percent of users are from overseas.
Stan World, a K-pop metaverse, received 3.5 billion won in series A funding from Strong Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture capital company, late last year. At the time of the deal, the company was valued at 27 billion won.
Users of Stan World choose an avatar that resembles a K-pop star and communicate with others in the virtual world. They can gain points by taking part in various activities, including chatting with each other, and then use those points to promote their stars, such as by publishing ads on public transportation and YouTube.
"The recent success of HYBE symbolizes the birth of Samsung Electronics or Apple of the entertainment world," said Suh Yong-gu, a professor of marketing at Sookmyung Women's University.
BTS has fans "in at least 150 countries around the world, which means that the market is that big. Based on that number, K-pop companies with business models related to commerce or metaverse are expected to rise."
BY BAE JUNG-WON [email@example.com]