How Ok-pop apps like WeVerse, Universe, Lysn, and Bubble work

The Ok-pop trade has at all times been expert at monetizing fan-artist relationships, however has been frustratingly sluggish to digitize them. Till 2019, merchandise and albums have been usually solely out there via third social gathering web sites, and official fan communities have been hosted on Korean-language boards.

Prior to now three years, a handful of platforms have bubbled as much as ship monetized exclusivity, and the power to message your favourite artist immediately — for a value. As a result of even with Ok-pop artists’ frequent updates to Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Tiktok, followers are nonetheless prepared to pay for content material from their idols. The most effective apps at the moment are world one-stop retailers for merchandise, unique video content material, fan-to-fan interplay, and unique posts from the artists themselves.

The three primary gamers are WeVerse, Universe, and Lysn, which mixed host the content material of greater than 100 acts throughout the trade. We broke down their primary options, pricing, and professionals and cons, and the way they evaluate to newer, extra area of interest apps like Phoning and Fab.

WeVerse is straightforward to make use of and presents a lot of its content material at no cost. Credit score: Mashable Composite; WeVerse


The fundamentals: Weverse is a cellular app and web site owned and operated by HYBE Leisure, the corporate behind BTS. It hosts unique free and paid content material for 63 acts from HYBE (BTS, TXT, Seventeen), YG Leisure (Blackpink, IKON, Treasure), small and unbiased labels (CL, Sunmi, Everglow, Oneus), and a handful of non Korean acts (PrettyMuch, Lil Huddy). As of March 2022, the app has greater than 6.eight million month-to-month customers. Given the backing and steering of HYBE, WeVerse stands to develop into probably the most sturdy fan group app in the marketplace. 

Options: Followers be a part of a free group for his or her favourite artist the place they will put up, touch upon different fan posts, and see WeVerse-exclusive pictures, movies, and textual content updates from the artists themselves. A house feed combines posts from the artists you comply with with advised content material from different artists to advertise discovery, whereas a notification tab helps you to toggle between posts from one artist at a time. Official merchandise and fan memberships can be found via the Weverse Store, and editorial content material is sprinkled all through the app through WeVerse Journal. A dwell streaming function has not too long ago been added because of WeVerse’s merger with dwell streaming platform VLive.

Execs: WeVerse is probably the most complete and easy-to-use platform on this checklist, encompassing merchandise, unique content material, and fan-to-fan and fan-artist interplay. And since WeVerse is a closed platform (versus, say, Twitter) HYBE artists particularly appear to let free a bit extra, exhibiting off their personalities in posts, feedback, and pics.

Cons: When you’re a fan of a WeVerse artist, you may must create an account and obtain the app in some unspecified time in the future since a lot of their merchandise and content material is not out there wherever else. Whereas there does appear to be some content material curation within the residence feed, an absence of moderation of fan-made posts on the positioning has led to rampant racism and hateful language inside sure fandoms. There’s a truthful quantity of anonymity (and lack of accountability), on condition that customers can select a unique show identify in every group they belong to.

Pricing: Free to obtain, paid content material out there for buy.

Three screenshots from the Universe app, including the purple loading screen, discover feed, and the store where you can buy Klap, Love, and raffle tickets.

A few of the content material on Universe’s Uncover feed is free, however you could want to purchase Universe forex to entry sure options. Credit score: Mashable Composite; Universe/ NCSoft


Overview: WeVerse wields the numerous company backing of HYBE, whereas Universe leverages the sources of main online game developer NCSoft. Universe made a giant splash upon launch in January 2022, with plenty of unique content material, together with a heavy funding in app-exclusive music movies and unique collection. 

Options: Followers be a part of communities for artists referred to as “planets” at no cost. Artists can put up textual content and movies of their planets, however pictures appear to be the principle attraction on Universe. Like WeVerse, Universe presents unique subscriptions and merchandise and hosts spectacular, extremely produced unique content material. The app’s most original factor is its use of AI to learn artist’s posts of their voice. Followers may also pay to direct message artists, who see the messages in what is basically a big group chat and reply to the entire group, however can not reply to a fan immediately. 

Execs: It’s actually, actually cool to listen to an artist categorical their ideas in their very own voice. Universe’s unique content material is a large draw, along with Universe-exclusive artist posts.

Cons: Initially clunky and reliant on creepy AI-based options when it launched, Universe has since scaled again to develop into rather more streamlined. However it will possibly nonetheless be complicated to make use of. The app is over-designed (for instance, why are communities referred to as “planets?”), and its forex system is so sophisticated that followers have created information movies to assist different followers perceive it. When you’re a fan of a Universe artist, you may must create an account and obtain the app in some unspecified time in the future since a lot of their content material is not out there wherever else. 

Pricing: Free to obtain, watch choose content material, and see artist posts. Three sorts of forex exist inside Universe: Klap (forex earned via finishing duties that will also be bought), Love (bought forex), and raffle tickets (additionally bought). You may solely pay for sure content material with Love. Bundles of those currencies may be bought on the app for wherever from $.99 to $299.

Three screenshots from the Bubble for JYP app, including the white loading screen, artist list, and the page to buy tickets to access artist communications.

On Bubble for JYP, all content material is locked behind a paywall. Credit score: Mashable Composite; Pricey U Co./ Bubble for JYP


The fundamentals: Bubble was created by SM Leisure as a method for his or her artists to attach with followers. The Bubble app for SM teams is known as Lysn, and the corporate has additionally created an app only for JYP Leisure artists referred to as “JYP Bubble.” Followers pay to achieve entry to an artist’s bubble and think about app-exclusive content material from their favourite artist. 

Options: When you pay to subscribe to an artist, you may view and obtain their pictures, movies, and audio notes. You too can ship messages to that artist, however are restricted to 3 at a time and a personality rely similar to how lengthy you’ve got been on the app: 30 characters for the primary 49 days, 50 characters after, and so forth. Like on Universe, artists see these messages in what is basically a big group chat and reply to the entire group, however can not reply to a fan immediately. For followers, the consumer interface appears to be like like a private chat between you and the artist. A dwell streaming function was not too long ago added to Bubble for JYP.

Execs: You are paying for content material that will not be out there wherever else. Followers do share Bubble content material to Twitter, however is it each unlawful and customarily frowned upon by different followers.

Cons: Lysn doesn’t produce unique content material, facilitate fan-to-fan interplay, or present entry to a retailer. You need to pay to achieve entry to all artist content material. As on Universe, messaging with an artist is one-sided. So you could ask an artist what that they had for lunch, however once they write “I had a salad earlier!” you may by no means make certain in the event that they noticed your query or are answering another person’s or simply telling followers about their day. Even so, some followers say they do not thoughts. Additionally, the interpretation function isn’t at all times fully correct, which has led to some complicated, albeit entertaining, mishaps.

Pricing: Free to obtain however you may want to purchase one ($3.99), two ($6.99), or three ($9.99) tickets, with every ticket granting you one month’s entry to a single artist’s Bubble.  

Three screenshots from the Phoning app, including the Y2K-tastic home screen, message list, and the in-app album decorating feature.

Phoning’s Y2K-tastic residence web page presents free messages from New Denims and different goodies like a digital album adorning function. Credit score: Mashable Composite; WeVerse/ Phoning


Overview: As a part of the pre-album launch roll out of HYBE’s latest lady group, NewJeans, the corporate introduced the group would have their very own app as a substitute of becoming a member of their label mates on WeVerse. Phoning’s ‘90s-era Nokia-chic theme pairs with the look of the debut album and Gen Z’s present obsession with Y2K nostalgia.

Options: The app mimics a telephone, and the members of NewJeans seem as “pals” in a contact checklist. Stay streams seem as a “name” from a member, which you’ll be able to decide as much as watch as they occur or tune in on-demand later through a name log. Members additionally ship messages and pictures to one another in a gaggle chat for about 20 minutes day by day. Followers watch the messages roll in however can not take part or message the members immediately (but). The app additionally has a calendar of the group occasions, a photograph gallery, a digital try-on function the place you may costume avatars of the members in several outfits, a digital album-decorating function, and a handful of different enjoyable freebies.

Execs: Phoning is lovely, and its trendy tackle Y2K aesthetics looks like a recent, tangible extension of NewJeans’ music. Plus, its options are free and so distinctive you gained’t discover them wherever else.

Cons: Phoning is sluggish… like 1999 sluggish. Pages can take some time to load, and the navigation isn’t at all times intuitive. There’s additionally no solution to discuss to different followers via the app. Notification settings can solely be turned on and off, and a vigorous 20-minute convo between the members ends in a whole lot of every day notifications. So it’s a must to select between no notifications from the app or dozens. 

Pricing: Free to obtain and use.

Three screenshots from the Fab app, including the purple home screen, the artists page for Loona member Yves, and the discover tab.

You will solely be capable of see probably the most primary data to your faves on Fab, except you need to purchase a put up for 10 factors. Credit score: Mashable Composite; NEOWIZ Lab


Overview: Fab launched in February 2022 with Loona as its inaugural artist. In March, they added group NINE.i.

Options: Members of Loona are thought of separate artists within the app and put up individually. NINE.i put up as a gaggle. Loona members sometimes replace their “standing,” which is free to view, however all different posts are hidden behind a paywall. 

Execs: You are paying for content material that will not be out there wherever else. When you’re an Orbit or NINE.i fan, that is the app you might want to be on.

Cons: When you’re not a fan of Fab’s two artists, this isn’t the app for you. It is restricted to paid artist posts solely; there isn’t any solution to join with different followers, no unique content material, and no retailer.

Pricing: Free to obtain, however every put up prices 10 factors to view. You should buy factors (wherever between 100 for $.99 and 2300 for $19.99) or earn single factors by watching advertisements.