June 17, 2021
5 mins

An army of 1.3 million people.


Yesterday evening in Seoul, the city came to a standstill for a couple of hours. The reason? The Korean boyband, BTS, live-streamed a concert from the Olympic Stadium.


BTS is one of the biggest bands in the world, with about 50Mn subscribers on YouTube and a fanbase of around 100Mn fans worldwide. They are a phenomenon.

You might think that the reason the city stopped was because of traffic. It wasn’t. The stadium where the concert was performed was empty. Not a single fan was sitting in the stadium. They were all enjoying the concert from their homes.

If you think only Seoul stopped, think again. To give you an idea of the global reach of the concert, just look at the map below showing the number of tweets sent as they started the concert.


Let me share some numbers:

- 2 back-to-back concerts. The band performed one in English, followed by one in Korean

- 1.33Mn tickets were sold in 195 countries, generating US$70Mn

- US$10Mn of merchandise was sold, including light sticks, otherwise known as “Army bombs”

COVID-19 was the reason BTS wasn’t able to hold the concert in a conventional manner. But was the experience for the fans worse? Looking at the feedback online, the reaction has been extremely positive.

How much will BTS, and other bands, use live-streaming when the pandemic has passed? What is the future of the traditional concert? It’s hard to say, but in any case, this concert marks a revolution in traditional entertainment. It is also a case study in how to innovate. The key lessons I take from it are:

- International mindset. BTS understands the differing expectations of domestic and international audiences.

- Scalability. Stadium concerts are considered an almost sacrosanct and unscalable experience. The band has proven almost anything can be scaled.

- Community building. Through its products, the band has built a worldwide group of people who feel close to each other.

Don’t think an online concert sounds like fun? Just ask our lead developer, Renee, who watched the concert at home with her army bomb looking at fireworks shoot above the empty stadium.


These innovations arose while overcoming obstacles presented by COVID-19.

We read a lot about how COVID-19 has stopped society from functioning. I don’t agree. The acceleration in the digital economy brought about by the pandemic is bringing us all together. I see that in the nr2 community and am unfailingly amazed that people from around the world are engaging with us. Equally, I am in Seoul and my co-founder, Maxim, is in London. We haven’t seen each other in over a year, yet it feels like we are working side-by-side in the same office.

BTS has shown the positive and enabling nature of innovation.

Thanks as ever for reading and, if you like what you see, please consider sharing!