SM Entertainment CEO Lee Sung Soo Talks About SM’s Shared Universe, aespa’s Avatar Concept, Red Velvet’s Future Plans, And More
On November 21, SM Entertainment CEO Lee Sung Soo gave a keynote address at the global start-up festival “COMEUP 2020.”
Lee Sung Soo said that SM’s “culture technology” would be divided into three steps: culture creation, culture development, and culture expansion. Culture creation includes casting, training, producing, and management. Producing is the most important part of this process, and as an example, Lee Sung Soo cited EXO, which debuted with its own unique “worldview.”
Lee Sung Soo said, “A worldview isn’t just a storyline but the climax of culture technology. It’s intellectual property (IP) that gives fans something to connect to. Worldbuilding is now an essential part of K-pop. SM’s worldview is no longer restricted to a single team and all its past and present artists share one big world together. We’re in the process of creating that culture. Internally, we call it the ‘SM culture universe.'” As an example of this, aespa’s logo was teased in the ending of SuperM’s music video.
Culture development involves crossovers where singers can move into other fields of entertainment such as movies, variety shows, and musicals. This also includes technology such as holograms, augmented reality (AR), games, SM’s collaboration with Marvel, and SM’s collaboration with classical orchestras. Culture expansion includes SM’s planned entertainment complex in Los Angeles and developing new platforms like Beyond Live.
Lee Sung Soo said, “It might sound like SM is pursuing these steps in order, but culture expansion goes right back to culture creation. For instance, the girl group aespa made their debut this week. This is a group with a brand new composition. There are eight members: four are human, and four are avatars. The group was born from the connection between real members and avatar technology. This group has garnered a lot of attention from its debut, recording 21 million views on their debut MV in the first 24 hours. Through virtual reality, aespa’s worldview can connect to the worldview of other teams and artists, including BoA from 20 years ago.”
At one point during his keynote, Lee Sung Soo also addressed Red Velvet’s future. He said, “There was a slight controversy recently, but we have sincerely apologized for that incident, and Red Velvet will soon return with a more mature image.”