Pop Up Experiences BTS

The Love For Music And The Ultimate Pop-Up Experiences

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In this first episode of the Retail Mashup podcast, we will discuss the ultimate physical and digital pop-up experiences featuring BTS, Harry Styles, Beyoncé, and Selena Gomez. Additionally, we navigate around pop stars and the art of authenticity when it comes to engagement and selling their brand.

You can find the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, iHeartMedia, and Anchor.

Introduction – Pop-Up Experiences

There has been a push for musical acts to branch out in promoting their albums beyond traditional streaming, radio, digital downloads, and physical products. Taylor Swift effectively uses her branded online store to push her latest album Midnights with limited edition vinyl and merchandise.

How many vinyl units have Taylor Swift’s Midnights been sold as of October 30, 2022?



We have seen similar demand when Harry Styles opened seven pop-up experiences around the world to promote his current album, Harry’s House and BTS opened a unique experience in Toronto, Canada.


Section 1 – Harry Styles and BTS

Hi, this is Larry and DeAnn from Retail Mashup which is a show about retail and what we can do to move the retail industry better from a customer experience point of view. Today what are we gonna talk about would be pop-up shops by popstars.

Harry Styles and BTS both had pop-ups to celebrate the release of their new album. And in both instances, merchandise flew out the window quickly and it begs the question, should other pop stars start to have their pop-up store, maybe even a permanent retail store? Yeah

Harry's House New York Pop Up Experience
Harry’s House New York Pop-Up Experience – Image from Columbia Records

DeAnn, what do you think?

I think that’s a great question. It’s ever since the advent of MTV, there’s been this push by the music industry to connect performers to shoppers. I think it goes even as far back as the Rolling Stones. They were among the first to sell merchandise for their concerts.

And it became so profitable that the music industry decided, Wow, let’s see what else we can solve through these wonderful artists. It’s now come to the point where they have popped up. So it’s only logical that the next step would be something a little more permanent, I think, or at least a way for customers to reliably be able to connect to music artists they love and to discover new things about them and to be able to.

Connect with other people who love the same kinds of music, as them. And that’s just something that you are only beginning to see in real life. It’s very established online now, but real life, I think is far more impactful. I also love the idea because, stars can use pop-ups to not only showcase the album but can showcase, their videos can showcase the singles so they can play whatever music they want to play and change up the merchandise just to go with the single that they have on the radio right now.

And so I think, that could potentially allow them to gather information and data about how popular a piece of music is and provide opportunities to engage in a separate way and something different. Also, allow the fans to have that immersive, “We are there together” type experience so that they feel like they are celebrating something important.

I remember, I am in Toronto and the line to go to the Harry Styles store was around four blocks. And so, no surprise that Harry Styles had the number one album that week. Wow. That’s amazing.

Section 2 – Selena Gomez

Absolutely incredible. and, the flip side of that, well, not necessarily the flip side, but accompanying that is a video I saw recently about Selena Gomez and how she’s launched this little makeup kit. She’s known for wearing red lipstick all the time, and her fans were asking her what shade of lipstick is that. And so she launched her own little makeup pallet that includes blush and eye eyeshadow and her signature red lipstick.

And it keeps selling out. It sells out within hours of it being posted. And so that just shows further the connection between physical retail and pop music that these pop-up stores can really start to serve customers. It’s true. And there’s one special artist that I need to mention before the end of the episode.

Section 3 – Beyoncé

Beyoncé just came out with a new song. And that new song is attached to an album called Renaissance. She’s already selling a specific package that really doesn’t have any description in it. It’s in a box. There will be a cd, there may be things in it, and there are four different versions of it.

Screen Shot 2022 10 25 at 21.59.07
Beyoncé’s Digital Pop-Up Experience Celebrating Her New Album Renaissance (Image from the online store)

People have no idea what’s gonna be in it, but they’re still buying it because they want to be part of the movement within, this new push of the new album coming out at the end of July. I think artists if they’re thinking about new revenue streams, have to be creative and think about what the fans looking for and be part of that experience.

I think that’s actually a very low-risk surprise because it’s Beyoncé. How could it be bad? Right. So, whatever you get, you’re gonna love it. Exactly. I’m thinking about getting it too because it’s not costing too much money. And, we’ll see if I can get one. Well, you get one and I’ll get one and we’ll compare what’s in it and see if we can’t be surprised.

Section 4- Social Media / TikTok Effect

Sounds good. What you’re talking about is interesting to me because I’ve been reading a lot about TikTok and the impact that TikTok has had on the music industry and how there’s this natural progression back to MTV. And, how it pushed artists to need music videos and to create this spectacular, larger-than-life persona.

And suddenly they were in the news and they were wearing fancy outfits and designer clothing and designers were reaching out to these singers to wear their clothing in public for publicity purposes. That has kind of traced through to now where we’re coming full circle, where performers are being encouraged by the music companies to get on TikTok more often and to put out these videos, showing them kind of behind the scenes and, you know, me without makeup or me singing acapella and just coming out of the shower or something like that.

Me driving somewhere with my hair a mess and drinking a Starbucks just like everybody else. So it’s really humanizing these artists and bringing them to the level where their customers feel intimacy with them. A shared experience and something they can absolutely relate to.

And I think that’s really an interesting offshoot of this whole building them to sell products, building pop-ups around them to having these little day-to-day snippets of the normal life of these performers. Do you think those two things go together?

Do you think one is undermining the other or do you think they’re just helping each other? That’s a great question. Fans have been given access to a pop star in almost a real-time way. And with that, there is a lot more demand and expectation that the pop star will showcase their lives in an authentic manner.

Using TikTok is one of those, tools that they would be able to do. But in turn, they lose privacy and they also may be faking authenticity as well, because, you talked about music labels asking the stars to go on TikTok. Well, that would only work if the stars actually like going on TikTok or doing videos if a star does not like to do that, asking them to do so made backfire on them.

Many stars like to use TikTok and then post them back on Instagram so that they get a double dosage of exposure. But, In this case, matter, the parent company said that Instagram is starting to downgrade videos that have been transferred over from TikTok.

Stars who have been engaging in multiple platforms may also have to watch out that they may have used the same source, but posted it multiple times or change it up so that the algorithm would not think that it’s duplicate. That may require more work.

Section 5 – Selling Authentically

Potentially that could create new problems when it comes to time and resources and interest, because if you don’t have an interest in doing something, then chances of you showcasing yourself in an authentic manner reduce. And finally, do stars going behind the scenes, those types of videos. Is it gonna drive products, selling products and concert tickets, and whatnot?

I wonder. The industry is to actually find a way to track how TikTok interactions and social media interaction actually drive consumption of music and consumption of product placements and buying products themselves.

Section 6 – Conclusion

That’s a great point. So, it could, sounds like there may even be some undermining of authenticity with this strategy. And that’s one of the things I actually do. Wonder about the pop-up experience as well, because you were talking about the lines going out, the Harry styles. Well, that’s authentic.

That’s really genuine. There’s an actual event around the launch of his new performance or new album. And so people authentically wanna hear it. The pop-up caters to that, in-the-moment experience. So maybe permanent retail might not come across as feeling quite so authentic since with music especially, it’s more about a concert tour announcement or a new album release.

Music labels and retail specialists really have to think about why is the pop-up created in the first place. Who really is the audience? I think pop-up works because it feeds into the fear of missing out, moments in people’s psyches.

So, yeah. Well, thank you, Larry. I think we should cut it off here. That was really a lot of fun. That was very interesting. So thank you for the insight and to the next episode. Yes. Bye bye.

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Larry Leung
Larry Leung

Larry Leung is a customer experience strategist based in Toronto, Canada. He is a Principal and Chief Experience Officer at Transformidy, a consulting agency focusing on helping brands with their customer experience strategy. He has over 20 years experience working with brands like IBM, TD Bank Group, Manulife, CIBC, Cineplex, McCain, GTAA and more.

He also has a Canadian Leadership role at the Customer Experience Professional Association (CXPA). He is a frequent contributor to local and international publications and a speaker at various conferences.

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