Expert view: Music Industry
„You can call me artist. You can call me idol (…)” everyone who likes K-POP knows this popular BTS song „IDOL.” Is the K-POP singer and dancer a true artist or only an idol? You might ask yourself this question, especially when you don’t live in South Korea and when you don’t understand the specific culture of Asia.
People from the music industry in Europe might think this way. They will see only music production in K-POP without understanding this phenomenon. Why K-POP is so popular? Why the most popular K-POP artists like BTS or Blackpink have such a loyal fanbase?
I asked Shin Cho Head of K-Pop & J-Pop, Sr. Marketing Manager at Warner Music Asia & Korea about the K-POP phenomenon and the creation of an image of K-POP artists.
What is your opinion? I know it can be difficult to answer. Are the K-POP groups products or artists? Some people in the music industry argue that K-POP is not real music because there are no “live” instruments and musicians.
They are artists first before commercialized as a business. They might be in a different shape of form as what western cultures define artists e.g. singer-songwriters, lyricists, live performers, but K-pop artists show off their arts in singing, rapping, choreographing, songwriting, producing, and/or more. I don’t think it’s easy to judge which ones are more considered “arts” than the others.
In my opinion, they put more emphasis on acting, body language, microexpressions, and the psychology of appearance. Maybe it depends on culture?
“Visuals” have been one of the important elements in K-Pop and itself has become another form of art. K-Pop / Korean companies make sure that high-quality visuals are brought to the audience, making it more attractive and attachable. It is also a form of respect to the fans and audience when stepping onto the stage or being in front of a camera.
What is the key to BTS’s global success? What’s your opinion?
I would say the importance of the ‘basics’ and the ‘fans.’ Each of the members of the group went through tough training processes before debuting as BTS, which makes them being capable of performing the ‘basics’ of the K-Pop, i.e., dancing, creating choreography, rapping, and singing. They might not be the best rappers, singers, and dancers, but their standards are very high compared to non-K-Pop artists. These talents naturally attract fans, who end up being dedicated supporters, and the artists and fans together make what is now BTS
Images license @Hong Jang Hyun for Variety