K-Pop Label HYBE Is Getting Into NFTs With Upbit Partnership

HYBE NFT Upbit partnership
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HYBE NFT Upbit partnership
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Photo Credit: HYBE

The South Korean label behind K-pop megastars BTS is getting into NFTs. Here’s more on the HYBE and Upbit partnership.

HYBE has bought a 2.5% stake in crypto exchange Upbit’s parent company, Dunamu. Regulatory filings in South Korea also reveal HYBE issued 2.3 million shares, giving Dunamu a 5.6% stake in HYBE. The joint venture company will launch a series of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) based on the HYBE roster of artists.

“We are working with Dunamu to create a way to expand the fan experience,” says HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk. “We will bring together the capabilities both companies have built up so far to introduce a new and exciting innovation to the global music and fintech industries.”

The music industry has quickly embraced NFTs, but the frenzy has died down. Artists like 3LAU, Kings of Leon, Grimes, and Timbaland have all released NFT collections.

Now K-pop acts like BTS and TXT can get in on the NFT craze by offering their fans exclusive and limited digital releases. K-pop fans are no stranger to buying limited edition collectibles of their favorite acts. Despite that, some fans have expressed concerns about the focus on NFTs.

The BTS Army, as super fans of the group style themselves, have taken to Twitter with boycott hashtags.

#BoycottHybeNFT and #ArmysAgainstNFT are the two most prolific organization hashtags on social media. Fans there argue that blockchain-based technology’s environmental impact is counter to the band’s take on climate change.

That’s because most NFT marketplaces utilize the Ethereum blockchain, which is a proof of work (PoW) consensus protocol. Most cryptocurrencies that are PoW consume lots of energy to solve complex mathematical equations re-verifying old information repeatedly.

Some NFT platforms hope to solve that dilemma by building out solutions on blockchains that use proof of stake (PoS), which are less energy-intensive than PoW. Ethereum itself is gearing up to switch to a proof of stake mechanism with the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade.