Bang Si-hyuk, chairman of HYBE, speaks on Korean Pop music. Okay-pop is in a downturn and BTS’ hiatus could also be why, prime producer says : NPR
Bang Si-hyuk, chairman of HYBE, speaks on Korean Pop
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean pop has rapidly grown into a worldwide phenomenon, and its recognition appears to solely broaden. However a number one determine of the trade says Okay-pop “is in disaster.”
Bang Si-hyuk, who chief produces the megahit group BTS, gave the evaluation in a uncommon press convention final month. He stated Okay-pop’s enterprise development has slowed and even turned damaging in some markets.
This development is very regarding, he stated, as a result of Okay-pop is but to have an financial system of scale. Regardless of the explosive development each in enterprise and cultural impression in recent times, main Okay-pop firms account for less than 2% of worldwide music report and streaming gross sales, in keeping with Bang.
“Okay-pop exports hit a brand new excessive final 12 months,” says Kim Jin-woo, the pinnacle researcher at Circle Chart, some of the influential Korean standard music charts. “However however, there are indicators of slowdown.”
South Korean customs knowledge exhibits that Okay-pop album exports final 12 months exceeded $230 million, marking a 4.8% development from the earlier 12 months. That determine is dwarfed by earlier years’ development — 62.1% in 2021 and 82.6% in 2020.
Kim says the slowdown is noticeable in a number of the most necessary markets. The U.S. share of whole Okay-pop album imports has remained at 17% for 2 years. America is the third-largest importer of Okay-pop albums after Japan and China. And in Southeast Asia, album gross sales dropped in all main international locations apart from Vietnam final 12 months.
BTS’ break is seen as a giant issue
Whereas it’s troublesome to find out the explanations for the downtrend — which might differ by nation — Kim agrees with Bang that BTS’ hiatus as a bunch is a important one.
The seven-member band introduced a break final June to meet necessary navy service and has since targeted on solo tasks.
However Bang and specialists additionally say that there are larger troubles than the group’s absence.
Jung Yeon-je/AFP by way of Getty Photographs
As the primary Korean act to prime the Billboard Scorching 100 chart and to seize Grammy Awards nominations, BTS has achieved unprecedented success, particularly in the USA.
“The largest affect of BTS is that they elevated Okay-pop’s dependency on the abroad market and made it really part of the worldwide standard music market,” says Lee Gyu-tag, an affiliate professor at George Mason College Korea who has studied the globalization of Okay-pop.
And so they remodeled the complete Okay-pop trade of their wake.
“We raised our bar so excessive,” says music critic Kim Do-heon, about expectations for Okay-pop artists from each the trade and followers.
An rising variety of Okay-pop teams are happening Billboard charts and holding large-scale live shows abroad at a quicker tempo than BTS. However their achievements now not obtain the type of nationwide consideration and celebration that BTS did, in an indication that success within the world market is now virtually anticipated of Okay-pop idols.
Critic Kim, nonetheless, says the Okay-pop trade lacks infrastructure and a system to proceed to progress.
Issues vary from unhealthy administration construction of some main firms, to the regularized manufacturing system that may hinder originality, to remedy of artists’ rights.
Even South Korea’s declining inhabitants will make it tougher for the trade to search out new abilities contained in the nation, Kim predicts.
And these points might make Bang’s prognosis extra evident within the close to future, says Kim.
Professor Lee thinks a “transitional interval” is a extra becoming description for the present standing of Okay-pop than a “disaster,” with a brand new technology of artists rising in BTS’ absence.
Okay-pop pivots extra methods than one
Okay-pop has a definite “whole administration” system that’s each credited for achievement and criticized. Corporations recruit and practice younger abilities into all-around performers and handle virtually each side of artists’ actions — data, stage performances, music movies, media appearances and so forth.
And the function of proprietor/producer of main firms like SM Leisure, JYP Leisure and YG Leisure has lengthy been essential in shaping artists’ kinds and music.
However in recent times, firms like Bang’s HYBE started to diversify and provides extra autonomy to producers.
“I believe a generational shift is going on in Okay-pop not solely of the homeowners but additionally the creators,” says the critic Kim Do-heon.
One other change is going on in the best way firms localize world enterprise.
A minimum of three teams, chosen by auditions in the USA by Korean firms and their U.S. companions however skilled in South Korea, are scheduled to debut within the U.S. later this 12 months.
The same mannequin of artist improvement achieved appreciable success in Japan, with probably the most outstanding instance being NiziU.
The woman group was created by an audition program collectively made by Sony Music Japan and JYP. All 9 members are Japanese, and so they primarily carry out in Japan.
Theo Wargo/Getty Photographs for MTV/Paramount World
Circle Chart’s Kim Jin-woo says the trade has now developed from introducing artists already standard in South Korea to international audiences.
Kim says the nascent mannequin of “combining Okay-pop’s producing expertise with international abilities” will ultimately transfer on to the following stage: non-Korean producers growing native artists within the Okay-pop mannequin.
And that, he provides, is how Okay-pop “lives endlessly,” as one thing anybody can recreate anyplace no matter nationality.
Critic Kim Do-heon says such creation could be an final image of Okay-pop’s affect.
HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk additionally stated within the press convention that he thinks “the letter Okay must be diluted” as a result of Okay-pop is “a tradition encompassing every little thing from followers, their consumption behaviors, manufacturing and industrial system” fairly than a music style.
Bang stated he believes being free from the “Okay” id will paradoxically assist Okay-pop resolve the present disaster.
“Okay” is already fading from music by artists with larger international following, reminiscent of South Korean woman group BLACKPINK, says Circle Chart analyst Kim, with some songs sounding indistinguishable from American pop songs.
Will, and may, Okay-pop go to date that it turns into disassociated from Korea in any respect?
Professor Lee Gyu-tag says the Koreanness, nonetheless it’s outlined, will survive.
“Simply as hip-hop retains its id as Black music even within the style of Korean hip-hop,” Lee says, “Okay-pop’s id as a Korean music style won’t disappear, even because it evolves into American Okay-pop or Japanese Okay-pop.”