K-Fan Lifestyle

Excessive KPop Marketing, Yet I Don’t Think I Mind

Being an international KPop fan sometimes means a shrinking pocket-book and quite a bit of lost sleep. Actually that’s just being a music fan in general.
But it is something I subject myself to and deal with willingly. Why? Because I support my favorite artists and the industry. (Then again maybe I’m just crazy…who knows? That is yet to be determined.
I also love to examine the music industry and the market, as well promotional tactics.

Right now I want to focus on KPop because there’s something on my mind.
With that being said let’s talk about YG Entertainment. One of the big three companies in the kpop industry.
While I know YG stands for the founder’s nickname, I often think YG actually stands for You Got my money because they (like all KPop agencies) know how to milk money out of their fans beyond well.

So let’s just talk about the major releases to come from YG Entertainment in the last couple of months~
These big releases I want to highlight all came from the members of Big Bang.
I think it’s safe to say that BIGBANG is YG’s cash cow; I don’t see their financial statements and budgetary breakdown, so of course that is just my view based on what they promote and who releases the most. Big Bang is the biggest and busiest act to currently promote out of YG from what I see.
Thus all 5 members also have various solo promotions and activities.

Let’s rewind a little ways and look at the maknae (youngest member) – Seungri.
Seungri released his second mini-album in mid August.
It is 7 tracks long with 1 music video.

He also released a longer Japanese version of the album in early October. This kid has a wonderful Japanese career so I can’t say I’m surprised by this at all. By wonderful Japanese career, I really mean it too; he is constantly on variety shows and is now on a Japanese drama.
I want to make a sidenote in regards to this album right quick. In my opinion this album is INCREDIBLE – Seungri did an amazing job on it and it did not get anywhere near the respect or credit it should have, both with the public and in the chart shows. I do not live in an Asian country and I don’t live in an area where KPop is well-known at all, so what I see of the reception may be skewed as I have to rely on my research; but what I saw was lackluster appreciation for a release that should have been celebrated with huge success for a talented young man! At th very least he should have had at least one win on a chart show. Especially when you consider that he is 22 years old and is not only the performer but had a major influence in the composition and production of the entire album. In a pop industry that’s pretty impressive; Seungri has a musical skill that isn’t recognized nearly enough. He should get similar recognition as G-Dragon, but sadly that has yet to happen.

But let’s jump over to the leader – G Dragon.
G-Dragon released his second studio album Coup D’Etat in September in two ways.
Sept 2nd – the first five tracks were released digitally.
Sept 5th – the next seven tracks were also a digital release
Sept 13th – physical copies released with 2 additional tracks.
I do enjoy marketing but I’m going to call this guerrilla marketing and yet another way YG can milk money out of fans as this was 3 chances for fans to spend money.
In conjunction with the promotion schedule there were 2 music videos released – the title track of “Coup D’Etat” and “Crooked”-

Not only did he promote with these two songs but he performed a variety of other songs on live performance shows, and performed his song “Niliria” that features Missy Elliott (yes, Missy Elliot!) at KCON in California. KCON was in August and I have felt inundated with GD related things since then…that’s almost 4 months of straight G-Dragon now.
G-Dragon is a musical genius, and a great showman so please don’t misunderstand me and think I’m critiquing him harshly. I have nothing but respect for him and would love nothing more than to sit down and talk to him about life and music for a while. I think we’d get along and I would just love to pick his brain a bit; there are so many things I want to ask him. What  I am critiquing is the release schedule that YG has him on. Does the man get to sleep ever?

We’ll come back to the leader in a minute.

So October…
Teasers at a comeback for Taeyang began! His first solo comeback in 3 years.
But then…nothing. Just a few photos saying, “COMING SOON” I think I can speak for all Taeyang biased fans when I say — UGHHHHHH!
Relief came at last in the first week of November, Taeyang’s comeback…and a bit more.
November has been the month of YG; and no I’m not exaggerating when I say that either.

Nov. 7th – YG released a dance video for Taeyang’s new song Ringa Linga, filmed in LA featuring a few top American dancers.

Nov. 9th – The actual music video for Ringa Linga was released.

These videos quickly reached over a million views and have since far surpassed that. The music video itself is now over 5 million views and the dance video is over 9 million! Taeyang then went on to promote on the live shows that every KPop idol does and his promotions are continuing right now. However his album is not being released until January and the next single will come out in December. While this may mean lost profits for YG, in a hardcore fan or a casual fan it is building anticipation. I will not doubt myself when I say this was planned from the beginning; they know exactly what they are doing to get people hooked, drooling & begging for more.

So, Seungri had a comeback. G-Dragon had a comeback. This was the time for Taeyang’s comeback; fantastic!
At least you would think so.
It was announced a couple of days later that T.O.P, Big Bang’s rapper, would come out with a solo song and music video the next week.

T.O.P has never had a solo album so news that he would be releasing solo music was welcomed by me. He has done a duet album with G-Dragon. The GD & TOP album was released in 2010 and he had various solo songs in, but never a solo album or mini-album.  The timing however is what I have an issue with. I will not discredit T.O.P because I find him fascinating and incredibly talented, but I will be honest and say my fangirl heart would have liked a week or two delay so I had appropriate time to appreciate Ringa Linga before another YG release; alas that is not up to me.
So as promised –

Nov 15th – T.O.P’s Doom Dada music video was released following a release of the audio little over a day prior.

The video is a little nutty, but it’s artistic while being nutty and honestly I think it perfectly embodies that strange man we call T.O.P.
However, as of now I have yet to see any news on when the actual album is set to come out, but I believe he is going to have a full length album and I will eagerly await it.
In a note of his busy schedule, I want to mention that he also has a successful acting career with a few dramas and movies under his belt now.

Earlier I said we would return to the leader…here’s why.
Taeyang is currently promoting Ringa Linga – fantastic!
T.O.P released Doom Dada but just a few hours prior to the audio release YG releases another music video from G-Dragon.

Nov 13th – The music video to Who You? a song off of G-Dragon’s Coup D’Etat album is released.

This is an amazing song (one of my personal favorites from the album) and I love this video concept but the timing again…there is just too much coming out of YG from members of the same group at the same time.
I did also read that there is potentially going to be one more music video from G-Dragon for R.O.D, there was however no source on this so I cannot say anything on that credibility of that statement.

The only member of Big Bang without a recent release is Daesung. However, so as to not discredit him I will mention that he did release a full length Japanese album in February of this year as well as embark on a 25 concert – 18 city Japan tour on his own.

I should also note that I while I make this sound like Big Bang is YG’s only act. They are quite clearly not.
Just yesterday a new song and music video was released by their top female group 2NE1 after a few days of short video teasers.

2NE1 – Missing You.

YG also had a competition series, WIN: WHO IS NEXT to determine out of two boy groups who would be the next to debut. So clearly they have other acts besides Big Bang. Frankly, there are YG acts I want comeback albums from more just as much, if not more, than some of the artists that actively promote. Though it has been “confirmed” (I say that carefully) that Big Bang will have another comeback as a group by the end of the year. Where do you plan on releasing that YG when you are releasing solo on top of solo all the time?

A friend of my speculated that perhaps YG Entertainment didn’t make as much money this year as last? Which could very well be considering last year had Big Bang’s Alive album release and the Alive Tour. Did I mention the Alive Tour was worldwide and had several sold out dates? The Alive album was actually printed in 6 different versions (1 for each member and a group version) and the same thing goes for the re-release entitled Still Alive; there was a version printed for each member. Some hardcore fans bought each version, I distinctly remember seeing photos of collections. I wonder what the profit margin was on each of those for the company?
“Hi revenue, I’m YG. Welcome to our company. You look nice in our bank account!” At least that’s what I tend to imagine when I think about this.

I think maybe I’m just thinking about this because as a Music Business major I enjoy examining music markets and seeing how things work and how acts are promoted. It also inspires me to keep working because it only makes me want to succeed in my chosen field a lot more. Sometimes I sit back and shout and my computer “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? LET ME ORGANIZE YOUR RELEASE SCHEDULES!” Seriously though, I would love to, let me organize your release schedules for all of your acts, not just one!
I also wanted to look at all of this because as a fan I am honestly overwhelmed! There’s just too much!
YG Entertainment and all Kpop agencies know how to milk money out of their fans and it’s amusing when you really look at it.
It’s a barrage of guerrilla marketing, just releasing video after video after video; and they know that it works, because there are people like me and my friends who will eat it up and continue to support the acts that we love.

YG has me in their hook…I guess that’s what they want.
Guerrilla marketing…it’s excessive but it works. I’ll just leave it at that.

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