K-Pop: the best thing ever happened to Korean music industry

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During this century, the music industry in South Korea has exploded at the hands of K-pop. How much money is moving through these artists?

K-Pop: the best thing ever happened to Korean music industry

In 2012 it became impossible to ignore the cultural power of South Korea, it was in this year that the singer and dancer PSY conquered the world with his song Gangnam Style and his peculiar music video. At the time, it became the most watched YouTube video and broke all kinds of records for the page. But PSY is just one part of a rising cultural industry that has surpassed all expectations of economic growth over the past 20 years.

Leer en español: K-Pop: lo mejor que le ha pasado a la industria musical coreana

Catapult by the success of groups of women and men who sing and dance, with elaborate choreographies and staging with high production values, the music industry in Korea has reached $ 4.7 billion dollars according to Bloomberg. To compare, the music industry in the United Kingdom, one of the longest and most consistent, is worth around $ 5.7 billion.

It is incredible, then, that an industry that barely prospered within its own borders 20 years ago, is now a global phenomenon capable of competing hand in hand with some of the most emblematic music producing nations.

The accelerated growth of the K-pop industry

What differentiates the case of K-pop from other cases of successful movements in music is the speed with which it has grown in the volume of production and sales. According to a study published in the scientific journal Asian Journal of Social Science by Patrick Messerlin and Wonkyu Shin, entitled The Success of K-pop: How Big and Why So Fast?, between the years 2006 and 2013 the music industry in Korea doubled its size.

In 2006, the industry as a whole generated $ 1,224 million dollars in domestic sales and 16,7 million dollars in exports. For the year 2013 domestic sales soared to $ 2,534 million dollars and exports to 277.3 million. Domestic sales could have doubled, but exports multiplied by 17.

The annual growth of the K-pop industry, then, turns out to be 11 to 12% during the period from 2006 to 2013, three times more than the annual growth of the Korean gross domestic product during the same period.

The strategy of Korean artists

What differentiates, according to Messerlin and Shin, the Korean industry from many others around the world, is the ambition to compete in a global market. While industries such as the French and the Japanese include government aid to make their music sound more domestically, the Korean industry expects its products to compete in equal conditions. This forces artists to develop international known because they can not depend on the domestic market that does not offer them advantages over their competitors.

Read also: Colombia: The largest contributor to the world music market

In addition to these factors, the accelerated growth of K-pop also depended to a large extent on the use made by the record companies and artists to the internet.

Korea has the advantage of being one of the countries with the highest internet penetration in the world, and from the public sector, it has been festering since the beginning of the 21st century. The result is a population that is already adequate for the consumption and generation of web media, the main platform that gave K-pop success.

While countries like France and Japan concentrated their efforts on strengthening the reproduction of national artists in media such as radio, which is inherently local, Korean industry focused on what was in itself a global platform, the internet.


LatinAmerican Post | Pedro Bernal

Translated from "El K-pop pone a la industria musical coreana entre las más grandes del mundo"

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