Is K-Pop Ruling the World Through Social Media?

K-pop continues its push for worldwide dominance with the success of the Wonder Girls’ music video for “Like This,” the first single off of their June 4th-released album, “Wonder Party.” The girl group’s video for the track had already garnered over 1 million views on YouTube a day after its premiere while also reaching #22 on the iTunes top pop album chart.

That’s not the only recent news item attesting to the mega-success of K-pop though. Popular K-pop boy band Big Bang saw their music video for their song “Monster” reach over 2 million views after its upload on June 3rd. The view count for their previous music video, “Blue,” broke the 8-million mark within only five days of its release.

K-pop’s synthy, fashion-forward, electro-pop and hip hop elements have a strong following in the US, even gracing distinguished mainstream outlets like when Girls’ Generation appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and the Wonder Girls’ upcoming starring roles in a self-titled movie on the Nickelodeon channel.

All of these successes and more, along with YouTube’s recent 7th anniversary concert done K-pop style, might make you wonder how South Korea’s pop music scene has made it so big. Simple: social media. Having long infiltrated Asia’s popular culture, K-pop promoters struggled to make their music as relevant to America and the West.

Eventually, however, they caught on; using YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, K-pop promoters and distributors focused on a digital distribution model and put less energy into traditional mediums for musical success like radio and television. Fans, especially the young adolescent ones that K-pop aims for, can be found primarily through the Internet, making efforts to gain traction through resistant American TV and radio inefficient; why do they need to court the gatekeepers of traditional media when their content sells itself on the Internet? With a planet made smaller through wired globalization, K-pop is able to reach and lure exponentially increasing shares of young fans worldwide into buying their special brand of hyper-pop.


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  • sternhead

    Kpop is dominating the world but is next to nothing in America. Figure that one out.
    Google kpop america and see how many results you get. Even angryasianman hated that Letterman gig.

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    As the Hallyu wave is spreading, we fans in the world are requesting for a Super Junior SMTOWN concert here in elf’s many cities.   
    Most of us are unable to go to the different countries for the concerts because of financial issues, money, time mostly. But we would like at least once, in our life to go to a Super Junior concert.
    I hope you will consider our request! Thank you!

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  • ams

    The real money Kpop gain is from commercial contract & media appearance. Once a certain Kpop is popular, he/she can get an expensive commercial deal, get a role in movie/tv shows, or just be a public icon. To understand how Kpop industry works, you cannot compare it side by side with American show biz. It’s a bit different. And they don’t avoid traditional media in Korea itself.
    They work like crazy. When they are promoting a single, they can perform on 5 different TV music shows EVERY WEEK for about 1-2 months. Popular Korean music shows are from Thursday to Sunday. So it’s 5 days in a row, every week for about 5 to 7 weeks. Then they have fan signings, fanmeetings, event appearances, guest stars on other shows/radio, magazine photoshoots. Not much money from those, but it paves their way to be popular then the real money will start to flow in. I’ve been a fan since 2005 and I admire Kpop stars hard work. Concerts, album sales… that doesn’t give them much, really.

  • Mark D Allen

    I wonder how they are monetizing their efforts if they are avoiding traditional media then.  Ad revenue off videos plays?  Can’t imagine it covers much of the total.  The Nickelodeon deal could bring in something but other TV appearances pay AFTRA minimum usually.  Perhaps it’s just like the US where all money comes from concert appearances now?