Why certain things are not worth paying attention to


K-Pop, K-Fans did a piece on the “competition” between Block B and other idol groups that put out new songs.

Now, Block B “won” this nonexistent “competition”–if all the quotation marks aren’t cluing you in, it really annoys me that there’s this whole focus in K-Pop on one group “winning” while other groups “lose,” as though more than one group can’t possibly be doing well at the same time. The only reason these “competitions” exist is to rile up various fan bases–that’s it, it’s just marketing. (Honestly, the only meaningful loss this week was Team Homophobia‘s humiliating defeat, which I do take great pleasure in.)

Anyway, one quote caught my eye because I feel like it sums up what not just K-Pop fans but also the K-Pop press tends to focus on, which are these not-especially meaningful things that are supposed to somehow prove exactly how popular a group is.

[+9, -10] When BTOB’s song was released yesterday, it was #1 on Naver search. Block B was #5 and then they disappeared. So I thought Block B’s song got buried but they’re #1 on digital chart ㅋㅋㅋㅋ Why are BTOB fans only searching the song instead of streaming?

“Why are BTOB fans only searching the song instead of streaming?” is the kind non-productive “Why?” question teens and tweens tend to ask a lot. I would suggest a more productive “Why?” question: Why are you relying on Naver search trends to tell you what’s popular when it’s clearly an unreliable indicator? (I mean . . . you expected BTOB to do well in the Korean digital market? Why? Japanese albums sales, hell yeah!–but Korean digital?)

Here’s another “Why?” question: Why are Naver search trends such unreliable indicator of popularity? I’m going to guess it’s precisely because fans have decided that they need to trend groups when they have releases (because . . . it’s their patriotic duty or something), so you have this extremely committed group of people driving the trend up.

At the same time, you have a much larger group of people who have better things to do than trend K-Pop groups–but they do make the time to buy and stream new music that interests them. These people are called “the general public,” and they make up a large portion of Block B’s audience in Korea.

The thing is, it’s not like it’s totally useless to look at things like search-engine trends–but only when they’re not getting fucked up by fans! It’s like when I post information on YouTube views or the traffic stats for BlockB.com–I’m hoping those numbers indicate a genuine surge of interest in the group, not some organized effort by hard-core fans to hit some random measure.

(Speaking of traffic stats. . . .

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 7.52.34 PM

From today.)

Unless there’s a music-show award in the offing, I also don’t understand fan campaigns to drive up YouTube views. Views make virtually no money for the group–10,000 views (which is probably more than any one person can deliver) is worth somewhere between $5 and $10. Groups would be better off if fans used their time to work jobs so that they could afford to buy more merchandise and tickets.

And while winning music-show awards can result in this:

While losing can result in this:

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 1.21.51 PM

This still makes me laugh.

It’s important to keep in mind that the main worth of these wins is publicity–and there are many, many ways to get publicity. Bastarz won squat, and “Conduct Zero” still sold well.

Of course it’s not like the K-Pop media is any better about this than the fans. (What, you think they have responsibilities as professionals or something?) The K-Pop media in Korea puts a huge emphasis on stuff like which idol group has the most fans in its fan cafe–which means they put a huge emphasis on such cutting-edge groups as TVXQ. Honestly, it’s such a backwards-looking measure (the majority of top groups are always losing fans, it’s like Dinosaurs on Parade) that the only reasons I can think of why the news outlets do it is, 1. it’s easy, 2. it features pretty graphics, and 3. the bat-shit crazy fans who obsess over this stuff give them views.


11 responses »

  1. I’m kind of two ways about all the comparing. On one hand, I honestly hate it when fandoms drag other fandoms down to make theirs look better by comparing how many # 1 theirs has, how long they’ve been on the chart, how much they’ve sold and calling all others nugus etc you get the drift. But on the other, because ifans are not in korea and most of us aren’t native korean speakers, we can’t really gauge how well our faves are doing. Usually the only way in which we can do that is by charts and numbers. Hence all the comparing I guess

    But really end of the day, I say just listen to what you love and who cares about the others.

    • I agree with all that–I just wish there was more skepticism out there, and that people were a little more rational when they’re trying to figure out if a particular group has a future. Obviously, I spend a good hunk of my time living in the land of charts and numbers. Some numbers matter and some really do not, though, and one of the reasons I think it’s difficult for i-fans to sort out what matters is because certain K-fans and the Korean K-Pop press put a TON lot of emphasis on this “competition” over stuff that’s not especially relevant.

      And of course if a group (like BTOB) does well outside the Korean market, then that can become invisible if you’re only looking at Korea–and if you’re looking at chatter from a bunch of Korean/Koreaboo Mean Girls, they’re definitely not going to say, “But they’re doing great in Japan, so who cares!”

        • Yeah–I noticed that because their latest (SMASH!!) single in Japan came out about the same time as the Japanese version of “Jackpot.” It seems weird, but honestly it’s not that different from here: In the U.S., you drive three states over, and a completely unknown song in your market is a HUGE hit there. It can be very surprising….

  2. OT: I’m confused: are Block B doing another comeback song, or was A Few Years Later it? They’re not promoting on music shows- and don’t seem likely to according to the schedules posted.

  3. Pingback: This is kind of a weird thing | My Other Blog

  4. Pingback: Thoughts on the Taiwanese market (and others, too) | My Other Blog

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