A video grab of the official YouTube channel of YG Entertainment. Entertainment firms are using YouTube as a means to attract fans.
Firms taking advantage of user contents sites
The management of SM Entertainment, one of the biggest pop music agencies here, was amazed when they saw fans waiting in line for “SM Town Live 2010 World Tour in LA” last September. Among some 15,000 fans who gathered in Los Angeles for the concert featuring K-Pop singers including Girls’ Generation and Super Junior, Korean fans made up only 30 percent. Asians other than Koreans accounted for 20 percent, and half were non-Asians. Fans came from not only within the United States, but also from Europe and Latin America. Hallyu, or the Korean wave, seems to have turned into a truly global phenomenon.
YouTube globalizes Hallyu
The first wave of Hallyu started in Japan a decade ago with the Korean TV drama “Winter Sonata.” Its hero Bae Yong-joon won hearts of Japanese ladies, who gave him the affectionate nickname “Yonsama.” Bae and a number of handsome actors led the first wave of Hallyu, mostly in Japan and other Asian countries as non-Koreans came to enjoy Korean dramas.
The second wave of Hallyu reached beyond Asia, with singers like Rain, Boa and the Wonder Girls advancing into the United States.
The third wave of Hallyu has broadened the sphere. It has become a global phenomenon. Music videos of idol stars like Girls’ Generation, 2NE1, Big Bang and 2PM are popular around the world. Behind this new wave of Hallyu is YouTube.
When SM Entertainment released a teaser video of “Hoot” by its leading girl group Girls’ Generation, or better known as SNSD on the Web, via YouTube last October, it recorded one million views in just two days. This is impressive when considering that CNN’s official YouTube channel recorded only 17,000 views in two months after its launch and ESPN, the U.S. sports channel, attracted 2.4 million views in 8 months.
One will also find hundreds of cover videos uploaded by SNSD fans mimicking the girls’ dancing. “’Cover culture’ has become a cultural phenomenon in some Southeast Asian countries. Recently, videos mimicking Korean idols are increasing in Europe, Latin America and the United States as well,” said Jung Tae-soo, a researcher at Samsung Economic Research Institute.
The homepage of the official YouTube channel for girl group The Wonder Girls. YouTube is being used as a means to communicate with fans.
Entertainment firms using YouTube
Impressed by the hot reaction at YouTube, Korean entertainment firms are actively using the channel.
YG Entertainment, another leading entertainment management company, launched a showcase for the first solo album of G-Dragon and TOP, Big Bang members, through YouTube. A total of 11 songs included on the album were released through Big Bang’s official YouTube channel on Dec. 14. The one-hour live-streamed world premiere performance attracted 390,000 users worldwide.
YG had its girls’ group 2NE1 release three music videos from their first official album through YouTube’s main page and its official channel. “Clap Your Hands,” “Can’t Nobody” and “Go Away” recorded over 10 million views in just two weeks. “Clap Your Hands” in particular marked 470,000 hits on the day it was released, ending up as the most viewed video of the day on You Tube.
YouTube is saving them much of the marketing cost as well. Taeyang, a member of Big Bang, unveiled his first album “Solar” via YouTube without overseas marketing activities last July. It rose to No.2 in R&B sales in the United States and to the top in Canada on iTunes, for the first time for an Asian musician.
2PM of JYP Entertainment, which manages girl group Wonder Girls as well, released a teaser video demonstrating the acrobatic abilities of each member on Oct. 7. The video ended up as the most viewed video on YouTube worldwide for that day.
Real time Hallyu
Thanks to digital devices, Hallyu has turned into a real-time phenomenon. “The new Hallyu is expanding to Europe, the Middle East and Latin America from the previous hotbeds of China and Southeast Asia. In the past, they got popular in Korea first and then spread to other countries but it isn’t like that anymore. It is now consumed simultaneously around the world,” points out Jung.
He said that the expansion of social media, including YouTube, triggered the new Hallyu. People anywhere can access content uploaded on the YouTube channel. He added that the caption service by YouTube lowered the language barrier for Hallyu.
"Great content that is mass-produced in the very small and competitive local market has met global digital platforms like YouTube and earned widespread acclaim among users from all over the world,” said Suh Hwang-wook, a Google Korea director in charge of the YouTube partnership.
“Whereas the pre-existing 'Analog Hallyu Korean Wave' was only distributed offline in a single country at a time, the 'Digital Hallyu Korean Wave' is progressing across the globe simultaneously, and therefore its growth potential is boundless," he added.
According to an analysis of the official YouTube channels of SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment, which are the biggest three in the industry, the total number of views generated by Korean music-related videos was 793,574,005 in 229 nations in 2010 alone. Some of views were from countries far from Korea such as Malta, Cyprus and Aruba, showing the unlimited potential of Hallyu coupled with the digital service.
The entertainment agencies and YouTube are working for mutual benefit through partnerships. While the agencies provide premium content in demand, YouTube helps its partners with various advertisement features, ranging from brand channels, a video statistics service and content identification (CID). CID protects the entertainment firm’s copyright over content by detecting videos that include even a minor portion of a partner’s content, helping to increase revenue by putting advertisements there. The partner entertainment agency and YouTube share the advertisement revenue that they get for each click.
Partner firms can also analyze location, age, and gender of viewers through YouTube’s statistics service.
Source: Yoon Ja-young @ The Korea Times