HallyuSG Explains: Why K-pop fans are standing against Hybe’s decision on dynamic pricing

Hybe currently uses dynamic pricing in the U.S. market for performances by Suga and TXT. And this is expected to continue in the future.

Avier Tan

| May 20, 2023
TXT performing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for their second world tour Act: Sweet Mirage in April 2023. Photo: CK Star Entertainment

I first heard the phrase dynamic pricing end last year when tickets to American singer Taylor Swift’s concert went on sale. 

The phrase dynamic pricing is back on the internet, following multinational entertainment company Hybe Corporation’s conference call with its investors.

“We currently do apply dynamic pricing to the U.S. market for performances by Suga and TXT (Tomorrow X Together),” said Hybe’s CFO Lee Kyung-jun at the approximately two-hour long call.

Hybe is home to K-pop giants BTS. It has several subsidiary labels, like ADOR which houses girl group NewJeans and Pledis Entertainment, home to K-pop boy band Seventeen.

NewJeans. Photo: ADOR

“If any of our other artists do perform in the U.S., the same dynamic pricing [strategy] will apply,” Lee added.

What is dynamic pricing? And why is it seemingly beneficial?

Dynamic pricing, put simply, is a ticketing strategy similar to that employed by hotels and airlines. Ticket costs aren’t publicised beforehand; instead, they fluctuate according to the demand.

It appears to be beneficial as this could prevent tickets from getting snapped up by scalpers, according to Scottish daily The Scotsman.

The issue might not lie with ticketing companies like Ticketmaster. Instead, “it’s the artist telling Ticketmaster this is what they want to do, not the other way around,” said music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz, as reported by USA Today.

In the call, Lee also shared that a key factor required to employ this method of selling show tickets – artists must have the power to sell-out shows. That’s why we only see famed stars like Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and Drake use this strategy.

“We think that all of our artists [are able to do] that,” Lee claimed.

While this positively impacts the label’s show revenue, fans have a different set of concerns.

Why are fans concerned?

Following the call, fans are upset that the entertainment giant will still tap on this strategy when putting show tickets up for sale.

Ticket prices can rocket from USD $150 (S$200) to USD $990 (SGD $1322) in a matter of seconds. That’s an increase of more than five times for the same seat.

A fan acknowledged that ticket prices might be higher now, as compared to the past, likely due to inflation.

“But it’s the way dynamic pricing is so unfair and insulting with how it tricks people [to] use fans’ panic and stress [to increase] prices at a vulnerable moment”, she wrote in a Twitter post.

Another reason why fans are so upset have to do with the moral compass of the entertainment giant. After all, the company, initially known as Big Hit Entertainment, started out with humble beginnings.

Big Hit Entertainment was seldom in the spotlight until the boom of BTS. In fact, they started out as a small agency in 2005 and even nearly went bankrupt in its early years.

But even after their rapid growth and a rebranding, Hybe seems to still carry the spirit of making great music. It’s reflected in their mission statement:  “We believe in music”.

Fans of the groups under the Hybe Corporation would like to think otherwise.

The aftermath

They have taken to Twitter to air their angst, replacing the word music with money instead – to draw attention to the company’s focus on profits.

Some Korean fans have also went a step further. They rented out trucks with LED screens that drive around Seoul to send a clear message.

Some Korean fans have rented out trucks with LED screens that drive around Seoul to send a clear message. Photo: Top Star News

It reads in Korean: “Fans love the artists; not a company that’s mad about money. Protect your artists”.

Should you, a fan in Singapore, be concerned?

The good news is that: the strategy has not been employed in Singapore. So local fans, like yourself, need not be alarmed.

BTS member Suga’s upcoming tour in Singapore, which tickets have all been snapped up, still uses the traditional fixed pricing system.

Suga. Photo: Hybe

This means that tickets are sold at fixed prices, from S$168 for seats with restricted views all the way to S$348 for VIP ticket holders with priority entry into standing pens.

So far, local promoters and ticketing platforms have not employed the dynamic pricing strategy. But it’s unclear whether this will change in time to come.


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