Streaming Directly to K-pop Fans – Fighting overcrowding in music, artists turn to live app to debut music

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Clockwise: Akdong Musician, WJSN, and AOA are recent K-pop acts who promoted their latest albums by taking to Naver’s V Live app, allowing them to stream video and interact with their fans from all over the world in real-time. [JOONGANG ILBO, SCREEN CAPTURE]
Clockwise: Akdong Musician, WJSN, and AOA are recent K-pop acts who promoted their latest albums by taking to Naver’s V Live app, allowing them to stream video and interact with their fans from all over the world in real-time. [JOONGANG ILBO, SCREEN CAPTURE]

Popular singers and idol groups have been making a return with new singles to start off the New Year. However, they haven’t been able to place as highly on music charts compared to their previous efforts, largely due to the popularity of the soundtrack from the tvN drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God and the collaborative hip-hop album from MBC’s Infinite Challenge. In the case of the Guardian, the rollout of songs from its soundtrack have mostly consisted of chart-toppers, from the first track “Stay With Me” sung by singers Punch and Exo’s Chanyeol to the most recently released “Wish” by Urban Zakapa.

As the landscapes has become unfavorable for mainstream acts, they are taking to alternative methods to promote their songs. Acoustic duo Akdong Musician, who became an exception to the trend and placed among the top five on music charts, unveiled their short musical film “Spring of Winter” on Naver’s V Live app two days before the official release of their latest album “Winter.” The 22-minute clip contains snippets from all eight songs on the record, considerably different than the standard music video.

The short film contained a plot based on a true story, where sibling duo Lee Chan-hyuk and Lee Su-hyun consider new partners after quarreling on set of their music video in Japan. The songs from the record are played during appropriate plot points of the film. Do You Like Spring Bear director Yong-ih, took directing responsibilities.

In the case of girl groups, competition is extra tough since so many groups have similar concepts and they have such short promotional periods. When the V app was introduced by Naver in July 2015, singers saw it as another way to promote their comebacks. The app allowed them to open their own unique channels and live stream whenever they wished. Additionally, the added bonus of being able to interact with their fans became a large selling point. When streams were scheduled on V Live, singers found themselves at the top of the real-time search results on Naver as well, being frequently utilized as a result.

Girl groups AOA, WJSN, and April all streamed their first live performances on the V app before their televised performances on Mnet’s “M Countdown.” AOA began streaming one hour before the official release of their latest album “Angel’s Knock,” and even held a poll for their viewers to choose a name for the choreography of their single “Excuse Me.” WJSN and April, who released their mini-albums on the same day, similarly began streaming one hour before their releases.

One major factor why K-pop found such success overseas is because singers took to new methods to promote their comebacks. In the case of the V app, international fans can change the Korean setting to nine different languages in real time, giving them the opportunity to enjoy content from their favorite idol singers without a delay.

“As globalization in the music industry continues to grow, the market is moving towards a direction to cater to all K-pop fans in general,” said Kim, a music analyst. “The V app has become another platform in the process, and the standard of being able to view live streams and interacting in the chat will accelerate.”

BY MIN KYUNG-WON [chung.jinhong@joongang.co.kr]

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