Major K-pop agencies shift strategies as Chinese fandom weakens

What’s Inside the Article?

  • K-pop agencies see declining Chinese market, pivot towards Japan and North America for growth.
  • Major comebacks and new group debuts from HYBE, SM, YG, and JYP aim to revitalize fanbases.
  • Companies pursue “light fandom” model with a focus on digital streaming to expand reach.

Major K-pop companies, including HYBE, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment, are poised to rebound after a disappointing start to 2024. With signs of weakening Chinese markets, the industry is focusing on Japan and North America to build a new “light fandom” while high-profile comebacks and new group debuts promise to energize their base.

New Groups and High-Profile Returns

HYBE, home of global superstars BTS, anticipates record profits this quarter. Their momentum comes from chart-topping success for Tomorrow X Together (TXT) and their upcoming world tour. HYBE will further ramp up excitement with releases from Seventeen, Enhyphen, and fan-favorite New Jeans.

SM Entertainment looks to regain its footing with aespa’s highly-anticipated new album slated for next month. Other popular groups like Shinee, Riize, Red Velvet, and NCT Dream are also set for comebacks and world tours, generating buzz for the agency.

YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment are debuting new groups to offset losses. YG’s BabyMonster has already made history with record-breaking first-week album sales, while JYP’s NEXZ aims to make inroads in Japan.

The Search for “Light Fandom”

The decline in Chinese album exports underscores K-pop’s need to diversify. Industry leaders are targeting Japan and North America, aiming to build a “light fandom” through music streaming platforms like Spotify. This represents a shift from the traditional model of highly engaged fans buying multiple albums. HYBE’s success in this area is a promising example, with streaming sales from overseas markets driving significant gains in 2023.

The Bottom Line

Upcoming first-quarter earnings reports will be a major indicator for the industry’s rebound. Analysts and investors alike are looking for signs that K-pop giants have turned the corner and are set for renewed growth in the global market.

Source: The Korea Economic Daily