While Kickstarter is about bringing one person’s idea to the needs of many, Krowdpop is doing it backwards, bringing many voices together to urge one K-Pop star to come to their city. According to a survey conducted by the Korean Culture and Information service in 2011, there are over 3 million K-Pop fans worldwide, while in the first half of 2013, sales by the country’s top three entertainment agencies – SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment – soared to a record high of 173 billion Korean won (US$156 million).
Meanwhile, a common problem for overseas concert organizers is that it is hard to know who is in demand in their city. Accordingly, when promoters suggest entertainment agencies organize a concert, there’s a high risk of making a loss. Krowdpop, however, provides a crowdsourcing platform for K-Pop concerts, allowing fans to tell the promoters who they want to see.
In 2014, Teentop successfully delivered the world’s first crowd-sourced tour for a K-pop group in the U.S. and Canada, spotlighted by Billboard magazine. This new way of organizing tours is a win-win-win for fans, star and promoters. Fans benefit by pre-buying tickets at a lower price, while helping the promoter reduce their risk, and K-Pop stars and their agencies benefit from knowing where their fans are.
The company’s business model is based on crowd funding and advertising. They run a studio called AMP Media while helping groups from JYP Entertainment on their global presence. The company has also introduced a new feature which helps fans monetize from their social activity. “We are launching a new system called ‘Krowd point’, which rewards fans for social media activity, such as telling their friends about the show and sharing ad feeds. Using the points they can buy concert tickets or other products related to it,” CEO Richard Choo said, adding, “It’s not only about K-Pop. Hallyu (Korean wave) fans are also interested in Korean beauty products, fashion and food. We can create a marketplace for Korean products using Krowdpoints.”
Kpop United grows by crowd funding fans
Choo was born and raised in San Francisco and worked in the advertising industry for 15 years. He then moved into banking, then to frozen yoghurt, and then to consulting in Palo Alto. When Choo’s friend asked him for help with a tour of a famous K-Pop group called JYJ, he realized how big the K-Pop market was. “I started to see the trend of what was happening in the fandom market. It was no longer just about Asia and Koreans. In 2010, K-Pop was already huge in North America and Europe. Then when ‘Gangnam Style’ came out and exploded throughout the world, K-Pop gained so much exposure and new fans. I created and produced the ‘2011 Billboard K-Pop Masters at the MGM Grand’, and that is when I decided to start a company dedicated to K-Pop.”
KPOP UNITED, the father of Krowdpop, started as a non-profit group to help one girl in medical need. “There was a 16 year-old girl who had osteosarcoma, and one of her biggest dreams was to meet a famous singer from JYJ, Junsu Kim. We thought we could help her, and successfully flew her from Wisconsin to Los Angeles so she could meet Junsu.” After that, the One Wish program started a charity foundation which has helped 750 fans in medical or financial need.
With Krowdpop’s consecutive successful tours and thousands of fans from South America, Europe and the U.S., there have been numerous fan requests to visit Korea. Accordingly the company now provides Dream Tour Korea, which gives fans the opportunity to have a full entertainment experience in Korea. They can go to Korea, have the chance to learn moves from the academy that made Gangham style dance and visit the entertainment agencies of the Hallyu stars. “Dream Tour Korea was born after fans started asking us to organize a tour for them. Because our fans wanted it, we provided it. We just have completed our fifth tour last week,” Choo said.
Not only do they play the role of a K-Pop fan’s fairy godmother to make their dream come true, K-Pop United also boasts their own production team. “We’re not only a tech company; we also have a team of world class producers. Fans voted for three headliners, Ailee, Jay Park. and San E to perform together and they flawlessly delivered the concert last week in Toronto.”
Krowdpop proves that global K-Pop fandom from Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and Canada are getting enough votes to bring their favorite singers to their cities. Choo also mentioned the company’s recent efforts to bring Krowdpop to China. “We’re reaching out to China‘s largest producers. We will be launching a company in China to deliver concerts and events, bringing EXO and Lee Minho, both of whom are popular with Chinese fans.”
Image Credit: KPOP UNITED
Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)