On the 4th of November 2021, the Entertainment Company HYBE, responsible for artists like BTS, TXT, Enhypen, and newly also Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande held a Community Briefing where they announced new partnerships, projects, and releases. Watch the full video here:

Introducing the main theme ‘Boundless’, HYBE discussed the following topics:

  • Story as an integral part of their identity and part of the musical experience. See Universe Stories for BTS, TXT, Enhypen across multiple media (music, video, animation, games, webtoon, and more).
  • ‘Super Casting’ Naver Webtoon’s newest collaboration with HYBE artists creating Webtoons featuring the artists: BTS will release a Webtoon called Chakho, TXT will release The Star Seekers, Enhypen will release Darkmoon and an unannounced Girlband will release Crimson Heart.
  • New BTS Video Game
  • VLIVE merging into Weverse to provide live features and enabling real-time communication between artists and fans creating the leading fan community platform.
  • Partnership with fintech company Dunamu, to enter the blockchain market through the sales of NFTs.
  • Global Audition Program partnering with Universal Music Group (UMG)
  • Debut of I-LAND contestants Taki, K, Nicholas and EJ

In this article, we will focus on HYBE’s effort to create the future of fan community in the metaverse. We will further discuss opportunities and fans’ concerns related to HYBE selling NFTs.

What are NFTs?

NFTs are non-fungible tokens, basically unique digital assets that live on the blockchain (Get to know what a blockchain is in ARMY terms). This can reach from Photocards to Videos, to Art pieces to virtual merchandise for your avatar, music, vocal recordings, house decor, or a BTS spaceship to visit other fans in the metaverse. Some people might still be confused about what the metaverse is. Basically, it’s an immersive, shared, virtual world, where we can collaborate, and do daily things without physically moving around. This can have huge benefits for communities like ARMY, which is spread all across the globe.

BTS Fortnite
BTS in virtual space

Wanna visit Bangtan Universe?

Imagine you could enter Bangtan Universe in virtual space and walk (or fly) into your own room decorated with the painting from ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’ and chairs from the ‘Idol’ music video. As you enter the door, Jin’s voice shouts ‘Welcome back home!” In the meantime, Hobi is training his best moves on your kitchen counter and a poster of Jimin smiles at you, winking his eyes.

Jimin BTS GIF - Jimin BTS Wink - Discover & Share GIFs | Bts jimin, Jimin  jungkook, Park jimin cute
Jimin poster

Are NFTs bad for our Environment?

To buy NFTs, you’ll need Cryptocurrency, in many cases, this is Ether, based on the Etherium blockchain. This is where some concerns of fans arise.

The Etherium blockchain is based on Proof of Work (PoW). Unfortunately, this method needs a lot of energy to keep the blockchain running (check here why and how PoW works in BTS terms).

According to Lambda256, the subsidiary of Dunamu, a single transaction of an NFT on the Ethereum network emits the equivalent of daily energy used by two American households.

Ecologically sustainable NFTs

So, how is this in line with BTS’ philanthropic efforts with the UN and fight against climate change supporting formula E?

Now, the great news is that Lambda256 is working on ecologically sustainable NFTs. Instead of Proof of Work (PoW), their green NFT platform Luniverse is using Proof of Authority (PoA). These are supposed to be producing 99.99% less energy than energy-intensive systems like Ethereum.

In my opinion, HYBE strategically chose their partner Dunamu for that exact reason. They are in line with HYBE’s previous marketing strategy and collaborations to have a positive influence in the world. The strategy also included BTS’ partnership with the UN, protecting children from violence, and reaching the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Aren’t they ‘milking’ out the artists?

Many fans hate the thought that they are ‘milking’ of their favorite artists IP in virtual space. I on the other hand see it as an opportunity for diversification and collaboration. I also think it can enable them to co-create experiences that are more meaningful for the artist and the fans.

Firstly, I want to make clear that I do take your concerns seriously and think that HYBE definitely needs to keep an eye on the usability, scarcity, and relevance of the items they are selling. They shouldn’t just create copies of offline items to sell them in virtual space. Now, except for photocards, we don’t specifically know what they are planning to create in the metaverse. Therefore, I will write the following paragraphs out of my view as a Gamification Consultant that has created many such experiences before.

Let’s wear our Gamification hat

Gamification in the Music Industry Presentation

Collecting physical photocards is a precious activity for many fans. Connecting the physical collection with a virtual collection can have many benefits. Firstly, collection sets are motivating you through the power of Ownership and Possession – because you own something, you want to improve it, protect it. Secondly, they are motivational because of Scarcity, as there is just a certain amount or as NFTs even just one unique item. But one important factor of photocards is also that you feel a connection with the artist. This can be even more enhanced by adding unique sounds, effects, and powers.

MY 2019 BTS PHOTOCARD COLLECTION✨ - YouTube
BTS Photocard Collection

Cards for Charity?

Imagine owning a special Namjoon card rapping your name. In the name of Namjoon, you could contribute the card to a charity that Namjoon has chosen to support. Now, this charity could hold an exhibition with all the ARMYs that have supported them. This action could help you make new friends, give you access to further special events for philanthropic ARMYs and give you a special status in the metaverse. This feature could add a lot of what we, through the Octalysis Gamification Framework call Epic Meaning and Calling.

Further, your virtual collection and gifted items could be seen by many other like-minded fans. You’d be able to exchange cards with your friends in Korea, Australia, the US, and South Africa. Even more, you could create your own fan collection sets, fan-made goods, and other content in the metaverse collaborating with the artists and the community. And this doesn’t mean the physical items will go away, on the contrary, they could create a symbiosis. If you buy a physical card, you could scan it and add it to your virtual inventory. And on the other hand, you might be able to gain physical items out of virtual ones.

Opportunities to co-create with the Artists

Let’s think about the burning man festival, where thousands of people work on creating the festival together. You could help create the environment for the next concert together with the artists and other fans. And in the last years, this community moved to a virtual space.

Jin could have a special power designed by ARMY to throw virtual kisses every time he physically throws kisses at the audience. If you catch them, you could get the chance to win a special Jin-related NFT. Tae could wear a fan-designed hanbok that could later be sold in the virtual market as a unique NFT and the money could go to a society that supports young artists in Korea.

BTS Virtual Concert

The opportunities for the future of fan communities are as endless as the metaverse.

Wanna take part in creating in the Soop 3?

Together with BTS, you could co-create the newest releases for Tinytan, partake in drawing the new webtoon series, playtest games with Jin and draw sketches for BT21. You could design the merch for the new album and create landscapes and items for in the Soop 3 and Chakho.

If you are lucky, you could even win a live session playing guitar and writing songs with Jungkook, painting with Yoongi, or joining a book club with Namjoon. And all this could give you more privileges and access to secret portals in the metaverse.

The rise of more ARMY Community Projects?

Imagine yourself stepping through such a portal in the metaverse. On the other side of the room, your ARMY friends from Singapore wave you over to do a creative workshop session. Diligently you join them painting some trees purple as a present for Namjoons birthday. As you step outside the door, you suddenly find yourself in the scenery of the Music video ‘Save Me’.

Your friends from Germany, Taiwan, and Indonesia are discussing a project related to helping kids with disabilities. As you join their circle they welcome you in their native languages which are immediately translated to you in your language of choice.

The great thing about the metaverse is that you have the power to create it with your own hands. Together with other fans you can, mingle, immerse yourself inside content, create content, join concerts and make new friends.

Conclusion

Now, I think HYBE didn’t really show the possibilities it gives people to collaborate and interact in the metaverse in an intrinsic manner. They focus too much on extrinsic, black hat features that make us feel out of control, so I get the fans’ concerns. I think the platforms will start very simple and not yet as advanced as I explored our opportunities above. But in the next years, I hope to see more sophisticated designs powered by social connectivity and co-creation, empowerment of creativity, as well as epic meaning and calling.

Let me know in the comment what your ideas are to create engaging fan communities in the metaverse.

If you are interested, also read about how I became a fan of BTS and how it helped me in my work as a Gamification Consultant here.

I’m sure, like me, you also want to be at the forefront of creating such long-lasting, engaging experiences.

Therefore, please contact me via useradventures@gmail.com if you are interested in creating the future of fan community.

I’m excited to make your dreams a reality!

Sona

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