Remembering V Dwell, Ok-Pop’s Library of Alexandria

V Dwell, the massively influential live-streaming platform that ushered Korean pop music to world prominence, has gone darkish. The cellular app and desktop web site hosted a public library of tens of 1000’s of dwell streams that documented a interval of development through which the Korean music business advanced from a regional phenomenon to a worldwide market superpower. The results of a merger with fellow fan-artist engagement app Weverse, the closure of V Dwell and its video database is tantamount to burning Ok-Pop’s Library of Alexandria.

V Dwell was created by Korean tech firm Naver in 2015 as a streaming platform for the nation’s music artists and actors. It was a pioneer within the live-streaming business, which was nonetheless in its infancy. In 2015, startups like Meerkat and Periscope have been popping as much as compete with Twitch. Fb’s live-streaming function additionally launched that 12 months, and YouTube and Instagram launched streaming in 2016.

As a distinct segment platform for Korean artists, V Dwell provided a extra managed setting than any of its contemporaries. It was used ubiquitously throughout the Korean pop business, with greater than 1200 artists producing content material on the app at its closure. Along with livestreams and their recordings, V Dwell hosted authentic artist content material like actuality reveals, efficiency movies, and, throughout the top of the COVID-19 pandemic, live-streamed live shows. 

Broadcasting Ok-pop because it broke by overseas

V Dwell was a crucial drive in Ok-pop’s world unfold and made the business accessible to a global viewers in actual time. The app was extraordinarily common amongst viewers, with some well-known teams drawing a whole lot of 1000’s or hundreds of thousands of dwell views per stream. As soon as broadcasts ended, they have been saved to V Dwell for on-demand viewing and have been typically subtitled in a number of languages to make them accessible to followers outdoors of South Korea. The platform hosted its personal subtitling service, V Fansubs, by which customers might submit translations. These subtitles have been accepted by the service and uploaded to the platform, which made some streams accessible in additional than a dozen languages.

No group prolonged the attain of V Dwell additional than superstars BTS. The band’s explicit model of authenticity was bolstered by the looseness and spontaneity of their lives, which they used as a essential type of communication with followers. On the time of closure, BTS’s V Dwell channel hosted over 860 movies and had acquired greater than 166 billion likes, 12 billion views, and a couple of billion feedback. As their fame grew overseas, BTS would forgo star-studded awards present afterparties to rush again to their lodge and stream on V Dwell for hundreds of thousands, most notably after their appearances on the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Grammy Awards.

Gamifying fandom in actual time

As a part of its deal with artist-fan communication, V Dwell provided distinctive engagement and gamification options. Customers have been assigned ranks inside an artist’s fandom — referred to as their “Chemi-beat” — that might be boosted by watching movies, sharing content material, and interesting with livestreams as they occurred. Followers might additionally earn Chemi-beat cred by commenting on a stream or quickly tapping an icon within the nook that despatched multicolored hearts throughout the display. Followers typically labored collectively to surpass 1 million hearts earlier than a livestream ended, which might set off an on-screen celebratory message for each the viewers and the artist. Idols would typically be seen “hearting” their very own livestreams whereas on digicam.

V Dwell provided a number of paid options, monetizing fandom with various success. A digital foreign money referred to as “V Cash” might be bought to entry premium content material, together with live shows and authentic collection. Till December 2021, customers might additionally use V Cash to purchase dwell chat stickers and, for sure artists, a digital “V Lightstick” that resembled the artists’ official lightstick. The V Lighstick would double the worth of every tapped “coronary heart,” growing a person’s Chemi-beat and their assist for the artist.

Sharing within the spontaneous thrills of live-streaming

The unpredictable nature of live-streaming was a compelling foil to the customarily extremely orchestrated public picture required of Korea’s pop idols. Although some livestreams have been rigorously produced occasions monitored by employees behind the digicam, many have been intimate and chaotic missives from artists’ private lives. They’d broadcast from their houses, in automobiles on the way in which to appearances, and in inns whereas on tour. They went dwell whereas intoxicated, consuming, or visibly emotional. They bickered, celebrated birthdays, and produced music. In a single notable livestream, BTS’s Jungkook labored his manner by a bottle of wine, rising noticeably tipsy as he bemoaned being stalked by overzealous followers and guaranteed the viewers, “I am not drunk, I am simply buffering” whereas looking for the precise phrases to say.

V Dwell provided a convincing phantasm of privateness, which some idols took benefit of to debate matters they’d be discouraged from addressing in official interviews. Till just a few weeks in the past, for instance, Bang Chan of Stray Children hosted a weekly livestream on the platform that he referred to as “Chan’s Room,” through which he spoke brazenly about psychological well being, relationships, {and professional} stress from his manufacturing studio. He additionally listened and reacted to music from friends — an uncommon incidence in an business that prioritizes face-saving politeness — and addressed taboo topics like menstruation and fanwars. (He’s now internet hosting his weekly streams on YouTube.)

Leaving historical past within the fingers of followers

V Dwell’s integration with Weverse was first talked about in January 2021 and confirmed in March 2022. Weverse is owned by HYBE, the leisure conglomerate that additionally manages acts together with BTS. Since August, HYBE artists Tomorrow X Collectively, Seventeen, and Enhypen have streamed completely on Weverse forward of V Dwell’s closure. In a remark to in November, a Weverse consultant stated that artists who weren’t part of the Weverse group had been given ample time to obtain their archives for future use elsewhere. Artists additionally had the choice to hitch Weverse to have their content material transferred to the app routinely. It is seemingly that this feature wasn’t viable for dozens of main artists who already had standing contracts with competing artist-fan engagement apps.

The lack of V Dwell’s library is most painful for followers who credit score the platform for sparking their love of Korean pop music. When the app disappeared, a lot of their recollections did, too. Earlier than the app’s closure, some fandoms had taken it upon themselves to salvage their favourite artist’s V Dwell content material by recording every video and internet hosting it elsewhere. Followers of Ateez have re-uploaded the group’s V Dwell recordings to Google Drive, the place they’ve been neatly organized by group member and 12 months. Since October 31, 2022, a single YouTube channel created by followers of the group A.C.E. has archived over 580 of the band’s V Dwell streams by re-uploading them to YouTube. One other channel has uploaded greater than 750 for SM Leisure teams EXO, NCT 127, NCT Dream, and SuperM. Listings of those fan-made archives are documented in Reddit threads and tweets

Along with Weverse, V Dwell is survived by Ok-pop particular fan-artist communication apps JYP Bubble, Lysn, Universe, and Fab, in addition to bigger platforms like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Artists have already begun utilizing these channels as livestream replacements, basically recreating the intimacy of V Dwell in a brand new setting. However whereas the options of the app will be replicated, its archive and affect can’t. The V Dwell library documented six years of sonic, stylistic, and private growth for a whole lot of artists at an important time for Ok-pop, which has solely existed in its fashionable kind for round 30 years. The app’s closure is a devastating lack of that historical past and the enjoyment it dropped at hundreds of thousands. 

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