Studies of K-pop fandom culture : User experience and motive research of subscription app “Bubble”
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The digitalization of music has caused a significant change in the economics and logistics of the music industry. With the introduction of subscription-based music streaming services, music has become more accessible compared to the time when it was distributed and consumed in physical form. However, the sustainability of streaming services for artists has been a topic of debate for many years. During my studies at UiA, I attended the Kristiansand Roundtable Conference in 2022 and one of the most memorable quotes I heard was "A single T-shirt merch sale are equivalent of the same profit as three years' worth of non-stop streaming of one song."(KRC2022) This highlights the fact that being an artist is a career path that requires extra effort to make a living and support one's career. Given the complexity of the economics of music, finding additional ways to create revenue may be a viable solution as music lost its scarcity. Every Morning, we open our eyes to new types of concepts we haven’t faced before. Creativity and artificial intelligence, NFTs, artists and music in metaverse and virtual reality. While technological innovation brings new challenges to adopt in the music industry on a daily basis,“What does it take not just to survive, but to thrive?” (Hughes et al, 2016,p.4) As one of the viable revenue streams to research, I selected one specific service that has been operating in South Korea that is rooted from K-pop fan culture - fan apps. These apps are either developed by external companies or acquired tech companies, and they offer fans exclusive content and opportunities to interact with their favorite artists and fellow fans. While there are various aspects to these apps, I will focus on two main functions. The first is their potential to generate revenue in various areas such as merch sales, marketing, ticketing, and as a platform to bring fans into the concept of the metaverse . The second is their ability to generate thriving income through communication. For instance, in 2020, revenue from an app called 'bubble' was approximately 7.3 million euros. However, with steady growth, the revenue reached over 32.3 million euros in 2022, with a yearly growth rate of over 30%. Observing this tremendous growth has The purpose of this research is to aid understanding of fan cultures and finding factors that encourage proactive fan behaviors in case studies of K pop fan apps, in order to utilize these emotional designs of artist- fan relationships for other artists. In this thesis, my research will be divided into two sections. First I will provide background information of three major apps (Weverse,bubble,Universe) including their finance, feature, artist pool. Second, I will demonstrate ethnographic and qualitative research of user experience on app Bubble, to provide users motivation and factors that differentiate this specific service to other social media platforms.