Mall rats

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It’s almost Christmas, and I barely made it out of a mall alive today, so I thought I’d talk about something that appears to me rather different in the Asian music market than it is in the U.S. music market: Mall appearances.

P.O met Santa at the mall yesterday. He was the most excited kid there!

In the States, mall appearances are typically regarded as kind of a bottom-of-the-barrel kind of thing, basically busking. Once mall appearances actually launched someone into the big time–but I think the fact that Tiffany was viewed as 1. a teen singer and 2. a one-hit wonder kind of soured the industry on really embracing them.

In the United States, that is. In Hong Kong, in contrast, Bastarz’ mall appearance was covered by the news media, just as Block B’s mall appearance was a few years ago.

And the mall they appeared at–the fabulous apm, whose name is a portmanteau of a.m. and p.m. and whose motto is “Play More, Sleep Less”–is explicitly a cross between a mall and a nightclub, meaning that it attracts a lot of musicians.

Likewise mall appearances in Japan seem to be a much bigger deal than you would expect in the United States.

That’s described as a “release event,” and I think that’s a more accurate description–it’s basically a fan meeting, and if you watch the daily Oricon rankings (not that I recommend you embrace my obsessive lifestyle), you can see that these events sell a lot of CDs.

I’ve seen mall appearances in Asia regarded in a really disparaging way by American observers of K-Pop, but I think it’s a little wrongheaded to assume that mall appearances mean the same thing everywhere else that they mean here. Obviously mall appearances aren’t equivalent to a stadium show or anything, but they’re definitely a much bigger deal than someone belting away on a portable karaoke machine with a hat full of change in front of them.

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