American Pop Music VS Korean Pop Music “I don’t care much about music. What I like is sounds” – Dizzy Gillespie Imagine tickets being sold out in only a matter of 10 minutes across the globe in major cities like L. A. , N. Y, Paris, Tokyo, and Seoul. But just who could be selling out concerts like this? Is it Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift? Actually try none, of them, the artist who are selling out these concerts in major countries around the globe are actually part of a growing phenomenon called Kpop which is short for Korean pop.
Now I know what your thinking there’s no way this could be true, oh but it is. Take for example South Korean rapper PSY, recently released a music video for his song called “Gangnam Style” this song and music video are completely in Korean, but it has generated 400,000,000 view on his official Youtube channel alone becoming the 4th most viewed video in Youtube history. Shocking right what’s even more shocking is that you can even hear this song being played on the radio right here in S. C. on popular stations such as B93. 7 and Hot 98. 1.
Now it’s clear from seeing this that Kpop is now quickly becoming a very popular genre of music not only outside of it’s originator South, Korea but even here in the United States and other countries around the world. But just why is that, since the world’s biggest music market is here in the united states and the seconded largest music industry in the world is in Japan. Now one would think since Japan has the 2nd largest industry that Japanese pop music would be growing like this but it isn’t, it’s Kpop that is growing like this and the reason that I say this is Law 2 ecause Kpop is largely model after American Pop music industry. Which in all honesty is a very smart move seeing as how successful the American music industry is compared to other countries around the world. Even though it’s clear that Kpop has a lot of influence from American pop there is also a clear distinction that Kpop has that separates it from it’s American counterpart. Both American and Korean pop have to deal with how the artist become stars, and how they are promoted and last but not least what every singer, band or group needs to reach stardom which is of course their fans.
Well before we can talk about how singers in either genre are managed or promoted or how they gain fans, we first have to talk about how the artist become the singers we hear on the radio or whose music videos we can watch on Youtube. Now here the United States there are few ways to become a famous singer. One way you can achieve and is very quickly becoming the most popular way to become a singer is to audition for shows such as “ American Idol,” “ America’s Got Talent”, “The Voice”, and many other television shows where one has to display their singing talent on national television.
And, usually the contestant that wins on these shows get’s a recording contract with some music company and get’s to release a song. This would have to be one of the easiest ways to become a singer in the American pop world. Another way to become a pop singer here in the U. S is the way Justin Bieber and duet Karmin became famous upload a bunch of videos of yourself singing on Youtube and maybe by some chance some music producer will see you and want to sign you to their company. Though this way doesn’t happen often it’s an option that is actually growing for music companies to find new talent, but it’s still not the most popular way.
Law3 Now the last way is what you could consider be the old school way of becoming a pop star in the U. S. and that is simply you going to different companies with your own demo cds, mix tapes etc.. and giving them to companies and hoping that they like your music and the way you sound and you get a call back from one of them and get to sign with one of them. While all of these are options to become a pop singer in the U. S market the Kpop way of becoming a singer is completely different. Do these names ring any bells for you YG entertainment, SM entertainment, JYP entertainment.
What you don’t know any of them well then it’s clearly obvious you don’t live in South Korea and aren’t trying to enter the Korean pop music industry. Why is that you ask, simple those three companies stated above are what’s called the Big 3. See in South Korea to become a Kpop star the only way to become one is audition and try and get into a entertainment company such as the ones mentioned above. And, when I say this is the only the only I literally mean this is the only way. There is not a singer, boy group, girl group or band that did not have to audition to get into some type of entertainment company to become a Kpop singer
But there is a reason for this, cause in Korea once one has auditioned and have been accepted into one of these companies they must be trained in singing, dancing, music composition, and acting. They also have to take lessons in English, Japanese, and Mandarin. Or, if your one of the non- Korean natives in a group you must take Korean lessons. And usually the trainees have to be trained for a minimum of 2-3yrs. And, after all of that you are finally placed into a group of at least 6-7 other trainees and then you debut as either a boy or girl group and each member has their own special role within the group.
Law 4 The forming of boy groups and girl groups in Kpop is a big marketing and promoting strategy and is complete different from how singers in the American pop music scene or marketed and promoted. With American pop the artist rely heavily on radio promotion. Basically with American pop if you can’t get your song on the radio you might as well give it up. I mean for American pop you can find out just about whatever you want about your favorite artist just by listing to the radio you can hear they’re songs, when they are having concerts, and much more.
Another small form of promoting artist in the American music scene is having your music video played on MTV,BET, or VH1. And, the last form of promotion is of course having concerts though those are usually during the summer or fall months. Now promoting songs in Kpop is completely a different ball game. For you see unlike with American pop where the singers rely on the radio Kpop does not. The reason for this is cause with Kpop groups and solo singers tend to release new songs at least once every 4 months.
But combine that with the close to 130 rookie boy and girl groups that debut each year on top of the other groups that already exists you can see how it would be hard to have your song played multiple time a day if you weren’t and already popular group or solo singer. To resolve this issue in South Korea they have weekly live music t. v. shows that air every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. This gives the groups and solo singers a chance to sing live in front of their fans at least once a week. Though most of time groups will sing on a different live music show each day that there is one.
Another popular way of promoting groups and singers in the Kpop scene is that Law 5 they go on variety shows. Variety shows give the groups and solo singers a chance to show other talents they can’t display through just singing live on the music shows. Such as shows like “ Let’s go Dream Team” where members form different groups can compete against actual athletes in something that resembles the tv show “ Ninja Warrior”. Also another way of promoting is by having one of the members in the group have an acting debut and star in a television drama.
Seeing as Korean dramas and Korean music have a close relationship with each other. But the groups and solo singers do this all to for the fans and to gain fans. Which brings us to the next point the fans. Now when it comes to being a fan of a singer or band here in the US I would say it’s a completely different from being a Kpop fan. The reason for this being if you’re a fan of a singer or group here in the US you might join their fan club, or go they’re concerts when one rolls around near your town and of course buy their music. And, that’s about all you can do if your fan of a singer or group here in the US.
Now this is just a warning before I go on to what being a fan is like with Kpop music you must be aware that being a fan of Kpop is on a completely different level then what we are use too. First off to show how different kpop fan’s are there is the need to point out that Kpop fan’s don’t call the singers, singers the fan’s call them idols. So groups are actually called idol groups by fans. Something else that differs with kpop fans is that once you join a fan club of one idol group you better not go and join another idol groups fan club. It’s basically the same as committing treason against your fellow fans of whatever idol Law 6 roup you support. Take for example I am a V. I. P which is what members of the idol boy group BIG BANG fan’s call them selves. If I was to suddenly one day decided that I don’t want to be a V. I. P. anymore but instead I want to be an Hottest , which is the fan club of another idol boy group called 2pm. I would be shunned and outlasted by all other V. I. P. and better not be caught at a BIG BANG fan singing. The leaders of these fan clubs actually have list of banned fan club members. Though not everything about being a Kpop fan is bad or extreme, in fact Kpop fans do a lot of charity stuff in the name of their idol groups they like.
Kpop fans also make fan chants to go to every song that idol groups come out with and promote and will yell these chants at concerts and the live music shows and fan signing. But it’s the love from these Kpop fans that has made Kpop grow as it has and made it spread around the globe and now make it able to be seen as a compete against it’s original model of American pop. But it’s also through such things as the love from kpop fans that make it’s it different as well as the way Kpop is promoted and how it’s singers are developed that separate it and at the same time make it similar to American pop.