To many, K-pop is more than just a music genre. It is meticulous choreography, top-end video production, carefully-curated aesthetics, an entry point into the South Korean lifestyle and a cultural phenomenon with arguably the most loyal, dedicated, and organized fandom the world has ever seen.
The blood, sweat and tears of millions of relentlessly supportive and proactive fans have made K-pop a $8 billion industry. Betting on their expertise in this area, venture capital investors Sfermion, SM Culture Partners, Laguna Investment, KDDI Open Innovation Fund III and Foresight Ventures have invested $8 million in a series A funding round for Modhaus.
Modhaus is a music production firm launched in 2021 that, through blockchain technology and NFTs, is putting the decision-making into the hands of fans.
After successfully debuting its first community-managed band, tripleS, Modhaus has convinced investors that it can leverage the accessibility and high engagement of the market to profoundly, yet still profitably, shake K-pop management foundations.
Fans demand greater engagement
In 2013, the K-pop industry operated under a "total-management" strategy where producers decided everything from the pitch and lyrics to the interactions artists had with their fans.
When BTS debuted, however, they told tales of genuine personal experience and were allowed to be spontaneous during public appearances. By opening the doors to the day-to-day lives of the band members, they helped build the personal and constant engagement style that has become a fundamental characteristic of K-pop bands today.
For the legions of fans attracted to the genre, their constant engagement with their idols has generated insightful, experienced and active online communities that Modhaus is looking to turn into producers.
"Fans have proven time and again that they are more than consumers. Far from that, they are talented, passionate, and loyal producers. The growth of the fan industry is living proof of such talent. Therefore, it is only natural that we should give more authority to our fans."
Through the companies' app, COSMO: the origin, users buy photo cards of their idols, which work as NFT governance tokens. With these, they can vote to elect band members, decide on community activities, choose song titles and much more. Through blockchain, Modhaus guarantees that the voting process, named "Gravity", happens transparently and with no interference.
Web3 Interplay With K-pop
Modhaus's fundraising has now reached $12 million with series A funding complete - a fraction of South Korea's music industry's total worth and a needle in the haystack of the worldwide music industry.
However, more important than numbers is the movement that it starts.
Web3 has been hailed as a means to allow fans to have a stake and a say in the success of their favourite artists, supporting their earlier work and collecting gains once they break through. So far, this cooperation has only happened on a small scale or was simply speculation in disguise.
Many reported fans of K-pop have learnt Korean to understand their favourite songs better. Several others devote countless hours to translating media content. A large majority is active in online communities, adhering to its strict guidelines and creating fan material with fellow members. K-pop brings a multitude of devoted users to Web3.
In turn, Web3 makes K-pop fans' dreams come true by allowing them to influence the story of their idols as it happens.
If Modhaus is right, and people do in fact, know better, the K-pop and Web3 story might become a huge success.