Category Archives: I used to be a business reporter

How are things going?

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Obviously, I lovelovelove “Shall We Dance,” but now’s the time for me to get all cold and analytical. And the fact is that the song isn’t sweeping the charts in Korea or anything–it’s not doing horribly on the daily charts, but it’s not doing fantastic, either.

And that’s kind of how things are elsewhere. BlockB.com‘s traffic looks like this:

That’s 322 visitors–less than “Toy,” but more than “H.E.R.” (I didn’t actually write down the number of visitors for “Yesterday“–oops! ETA: It’s 406 views! Improved Web analytics FTW!) The international iTunes charts look OK, including their first appearance on the UK charts (where is Finland, though?), but not as high as “Toy.”

But of course “Shall We Dance” and “Toy” are completely different songs, and I think that’s pretty much the issue–when you switch up a sound, the people who liked your old sound may not like your new one, and the people who would like your new sound don’t yet know you exist. So it can take some time to find an audience.

There’s definitely some good news–Billboard gave a really nice write-up, and we’re at 1.7 million YouTube views a day-and-a-half in, which is quite good. Block B is going to do music shows, and while I obviously hate the whole trophy business with the fire of a thousand suns, appearing on the shows does have promotional value.

And of course they probably felt like they could take a risk with their lead single because they already made bank using “My Zone” for an LG endorsement. It’s also simply not that important these days that every Block B release be a huge hit, because they’re so much more diversified with all the solo activities and everything going on in Japan. They also reportedly have two concerts in Korea coming up that will be in an 11,000-seat stadium, and there’s always the old-school method of having a thousand fan signings to sell CDs, so, yeah–they have whole a lot of avenues through which they can drum up revenues. They’re not going to die if the Korean market never really warms to “Shall We Dance.”

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This is…potentially interesting

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A few days ago, Asian Junkie posted about an interview with CLC’s Sorn in which she talks about how non-Korean musicians don’t necessarily get the royalties that Korean musicians do.

It was interesting for many reasons (and Sorn has a very healthy attitude toward the business end of things), but what I found odd was her apparent belief that artists get paid more the more their songs are played in public.

That struck me as weird because that’s not how it works in the United States: Retail businesses just pay a blanket licensing fee to performing rights organizations to play music; they don’t pay a particular artist more if they play their songs a lot. (ETA: WannaBlockB points out in the comments that things are a little more precise these days.)

But if you sift through the garbled Engrish at the FKMP Web site–well, it could be that Sorn is right. If they have to “[s]ecure distribution data such as usage statement,” that could suggest that they actually do keep track of what songs get played in public venues.

If that’s the case, and if it’s a significant amount of money (and I guess it probably is, because Sorn noticed it was missing and was sufficiently motivated to find out why)–well, that’s another income stream that I hadn’t even really thought of. I mean, I heard quite a bit of music from the Greater Block B Musical Complex playing from retailers when I was in Korea (including Killagramz’ “Where You At” the day I went home). I just thought it was nice, but I guess it could also mean that they’re making bank (and Kisum isn’t doing too badly, either).

Score!

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Project-1 is up on regular iTunes! Yay!

They’re releasing only the Red-Type edition digitally, but if you have to have the Blue-Type (the instrumental tracks are different), Amazon is carrying the CD, and it’s Prime eligible. Although they say it’s out of stock, and CD Japan is saying that the first press of the Blue-Type edition is already sold out…which is promising, don’t you think?

ETA: It seems that a lot of people are finding this post when trying to figure out how to buy Project-1–go to BlockB.com’s Albums & Singles page instead, I have links to many, many retail options there. BlockB.com! It’s kind of a lot of work for me, so please use it!

About what I expected

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K-Pop, K-Fans translated this a few days ago: Apparently artists get almost nothing from streaming. (ETA: And surprise, surprise, sometime’s that’s because the streaming services are just not paying what they owe.) Judging from the comments, the article was about the Korean streaming service Melon; of course, the amount does vary from service to service (and the percentage going to the producers/composers would vary depending on the contract). Still, the relatively paltry amount musicians get from streaming (and YouTube) is certainly an issue in the United States–streaming is better than pirating, for sure, but there’s good reason why Park Kyung has been telling fans to be sure to download the songs.

Anyway, that’s something to keep in mind. There are often fan campaigns to stream songs, with international fans signing up for Korean music services and the like. Just like with campaigns to increase YouTube views, there’s nothing wrong with participating in these things–they definitely do no harm to the musicians and maybe a little good. But 1. streaming or viewing a song is certainly no substitute for buying it–the latter is far better for the bottom line–and 2. if these types of campaigns are stressing you out and doing harm to you, don’t feel guilty about skipping them.

And, hey! A teaser! Cool!

Project-1!

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(First things first:

Eclipses are cool!)

There’s information up on Block B Japan about the Project-1 album (and its various-types, not-to-mention its excessive-use-of-hyphens). You can read translations of the song descriptions here and here–basically it sounds like Taeil & Jaehyo got the ballad-y songs (and those instrumentals will be on the Blue-Type edition), while P.O/U-Kwon & B-Bomb got the hype songs (Red-Type).

No idea what’s going on with the digital release, but fingers crossed that they will continue to release the digital music internationally! (ETA: It looks like, at this point, they aren’t doing the early digital releases internationally–hopefully they will when the entire album is released. EATA: They did!) That seems to be working out for them, and my suspicion/hope is that part of the reason King Records is doing this is not only to increase the Japanese audience for Block B but also to increase the international audience for some of their acts. Which would be kind of a bold move for a major Japanese music label–but one that would certainly make me happy, especially if it led to more international releases of Japanese music and less arresting people. Risk it, King Records! Risk it!

New pointless scare!

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Remember how I wrote that post about the pointless scares about Zico leaving Block B and noted that, oddly enough, there never seem to be any scares about any of the other members leaving Block B?

Well, we seem to have reached a milestone.

Apparently some people finally managed to get it through their skulls that “Wiped” is not being put out by Seven Seasons/KQ. Because they are willfully ignorant and addicted to drama, they apparently have now decided that this is HUGELY SIGNIFICANT and a sign that Park Kyung is about to leave Seven Seasons/KQ, which would presumably also involve leaving Block B.

Here is a visual representation of this thought process:

2 + 2 = I’M NOT GETTING ENOUGH ATTENTION!!

I mean, I do try not to be bitchy, but this is kind of a breathtaking combination of absurdity and malice. It’s something where, if you know anything at all about the group and how they have done things in the past, and if you have the most basic understanding of the K-Pop industry–and by that I mean, if you can comprehend that there is more than one company within that industry–then it’s obvious that this is histrionic bullshit.

Why am I saying this?

Remember this?

This song was not put out by Seven Seasons/KQ.

Remember this?

This song was not put out by Seven Seasons/KQ.

Remember this? (I hope so–it came out in June!)

This song was not put out by Seven Seasons/KQ.

I realize that this:

looks more like a comeback video, but that’s not what it is–it’s a cereal commercial. Like the other songs (and there are more) this song was not put out by Seven Seasons/KQ.

When a company that is not Seven Seasons/KQ puts out a song, Seven Seasons/KQ tends to adopt a very relaxed attitude toward marketing. Typically all they do is repost or link to whatever the other company puts out there.

This is a sensible approach for a couple of reasons. First, the other company likely wants to control the marketing (that’s pretty typical, especially given that this is an endorsement), so Seven Seasons/KQ actually has to be careful not to stick their oar in. If it’s a normal song for commercial release, another reason to back off is financial: If there’s another company involved, then Seven Seasons/KQ is presumably not going to get a big share of the revenues. You don’t want to spend a lot of time and money pushing a song to be a hit if you’re never going to see a dime from it.

What happened this time around is that the other company involved, the agency Space Oddity, didn’t give Seven Seasons/KQ anything to work with. Before the teaser release, there were no stories to link to and nothing coming out of Space Oddity for Seven Seasons/KQ to repost. Space Oddity released the teaser an hour before they were supposed to, so Seven Seasons/KQ couldn’t announce the release before it happened.

So it was kind of a debacle, sure. Again, I’m not sure why people seem to think that’s Seven Seasons/KQ’s fault. More comically, they seem to think that Park Kyung would be soooooooo impressed by Space Oddity’s handling of this release that he would drop Seven Seasons/KQ like a hot potato, break his contract, and run on over there. Especially given that they’re not actually a music label.

I mean, of course it is possible that he’ll do that–anything’s possible. But I don’t think that’s the most likely scenario.

P.S. You know what annoys me? Park Kyung just got a television show and an endorsement, and these “fans” are running around trying to convince everyone that the sky is falling. What a waste.

ETA: And now Park Kyung is thanking Seven Seasons/KQ for how they handled this, and these people are…telling everyone to shut up about the panic THEY FUCKING STARTED. Oh, and they still think Seven Seasons/KQ sucks, and they’re obviously not sorry or ashamed or anything, so definitely look forward to them doing their best to start yet another panic with the next release.

OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I mean, how many times do you have to do this before you finally admit to yourself that you have for all practical purposes become a troll?

Business-y bits

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This article (via zicogram) is pretty darned interesting–apparently Hack Zico has a total of more than 10 million views (for all episodes, on all platforms). The article says that this is especially remarkable given that it’s an Internet-only show that was never aired on television.

If you’ve been paying attention, partnering with online platforms has been an explicit strategy of KQ Entertainment, and they’ve definitely been experimenting a lot with that. One major advantage would presumably be that you’re not expected to engage in the payola and ass-kissing that is standard operating procedure with Korean music shows.

So, it’s really gratifying for me to see that strategy working so well for them. I’ve been in an industry where you’re treated like a peon–it’s no fun, and watching those sorts of bullshit industry practices wither away (as those who had engaged in them screamed in agony over the horrible new order) was one of the great delights of going indie.

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Of course this is going to piss off Those Who Get Pissed Off about things like Block B not appearing on music shows. (So important…if you’re arguing with some Exo fan about which group sucks.) At the moment, though, Those Who Get Pissed Off are busy being pissed off because Park Kyung is working with a company that isn’t Seven Seasons/KQ.

Except they don’t know that’s what they’re angry about. These are the same people who apparently thought Block B Japan was run by magical fairies. They don’t realize that Park Kyung is working with a company that isn’t Seven Seasons/KQ. They think his video isn’t on the Seven Seasons YouTube channel (and the company hasn’t changed its all-important social-media headers! OMFG!!!) because the company is lazy and cheap and loves only Zico. I guess they think that’s why there hasn’t really been any coverage of the upcoming song in the Korean media, either. (I don’t know why they think it’s on a different distributor’s channel. Do they even know what a distributor is?)

I mean, the explanation was translated into English, but…no. Can’t understand it. Must be Seven Seasons/KQ’s fault somehow.

For the record: The song is a special project for another company that is not Seven Seasons/KQ. This is like when the members do soundtrack songs for dramas, or cover songs for variety shows, or songs for Show Me the Money, or songs for Block B Japan. There’s another company in charge, and whether or not there’s a video, or marketing, or international distribution is not Seven Seasons/KQ’s decision. (Why agree to sing a song for another company that may or may not do a good job promoting and distributing the song? Usually because said company offers an up-front payment.)

So, the people who hope the members would go to another company? They already have! They’ve done it many times! Park Kyung is doing it right now! Seven Seasons/KQ actually seems pretty relaxed about that kind of thing.