After several weeks of preparation, Korean technology corporation Naver has officially invested ₩100 billion KRW ($83.72 million USD) into SM Entertainment. If you love EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, or any other group under this K-Pop agency, here’s how the investment will change things for your fandom.
New fan clubs
Part of the investment is going to SMEJ Plus, a recently launched SM Entertainment subsidiary that operates fan clubs.
Currently, all SM Entertainment artists’ fan clubs are managed on mobile app Lysn, one of the company’s many technology investments. The platform recently came under fire after Red Velvet’s Irene and Seulgi received inappropriate and harassing messages through the app’s “Dear U. Bubble” feature. It has also been criticized for its high shipping costs, making it inaccessible to many international fans.
Going forward, as part of the new partnership, all Lysn fan clubs will be unified with Naver’s own Fanship platform. Launched in 2019, Fanship was created to connect idols with fans all over the world through VLIVE. Some of the idols whose fan clubs are currently managed through Fanship include Sunmi, Stray Kids, and Wonho.
Fanship fan club member benefits include access to exclusive broadcasts and videos, no video ads, artist communication, a members’ only board, the opportunity to apply for exclusive events, and advanced ticketing privileges for events.
We will collaborate with SM Entertainment more closely through this investment and boost Fanship’s competitiveness.
— Han Seong Sook, Naver CEO
But for international fans, one of the benefits of Fanship over Lysn is that most fan clubs offer a “Welcome Kit Excluded” membership. By opting out of receiving the welcome kit (which includes merchandise and photocards), overseas fans can join fan clubs for ₩30,000 KRW ($25 USD) without facing high shipping costs.
However, despite this new consolidation, “Dear U. Bubble” communication will still be provided via Lysn. As of right now, Naver has not announced any plans to launch a similar service through Fanship.
Naver has also allocated a separate fund solely to creating new video content.
Fans have already seen a taste of the content a Naver and SM Entertainment partnership can bring with Beyond Live. Beyond Live is a joint venture between the two companies which uses augmented reality and other advanced technology to bring fans a live, virtual concert experience in their own homes.
Alongside continuing the Beyond Live series, which has expanded to include non-SM Entertainment artists such as TWICE, Naver will also be producing additional video contents for the label’s artists.
SM Entertainment is excited to collaborate with Naver in this “ontact” era, providing differentiated content for fans and opening a new era of entertainment.
— Lee Sung Soo, SM Entertainment CEO
Not much has been revealed about what this new content will entail, but fans of SM Entertainment artists are sure to have plenty of next-generation video in conjunction with subsidiary Mystic Story.