It goes without saying that the popularity of K-pop has risen exponentially over the past few years, and a major part of this uptick in exposure can be attributed to YouTube.
According to Bloomberg, the roots of this recent rise of K-pop can be attributed to the 2012 juggernaut "Gangnam Style," which not only became the first YouTube video to surpass 1 billion views, but was the song that put K-pop on the map around the world.
Bloomberg states that YouTube has played a crucial part in the growth of K-pop on the world stage, with the views of the top 200 K-pop artists tripling since 2012. In 2016 alone, K-pop MVs were viewed about 24 billion times. But the most interesting part of that statistic? 80% of those 24 billion views came from outside of South Korea according to YouTube. And this growth doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon, nor does it look like a temporary phenomenon.
Groups like BTS have more page views than big-name Western artists like Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez; streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and China's QQ Music service all now have dedicated K-pop channels.
Behind the rapid rise of this latest hallyu wave is CJ E&M Corp., the company that owns several major Korean television channels, including Mnet (Asia's own version of MTV), and manages some of the most popular K-pop acts gracing the top of YouTube and Spotify playlists. The CJ executive overseeing this activity is Shin Hyung-kwan, who grew up listening to acts like Michael Jackson, Queen, and Duran Duran. When asked about the latest hallyu wave, Shin says that K-pop is looking for its own "Michael Jackson moment," referring to the monumental way that MTV helped push Michael Jackson's seminal 1982 masterpiece, "Thriller," to the status of the world's best-selling album. Shin further states that “Asian music has never been in the spotlight. The big idea is to do meaningful things in the global market, especially in the U.S.”
At the way K-pop has been rising in the past few years, it looks like that "Michael Jackson moment" might be here already!
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