Updated: Sep 22
What the annual Kpop convention with roots in Southern California has done for Korean pop music.
in recent times, other than concerts, we have seen more music festivals sprouting in Asia. Whether they’re for EDM music in the likes of ULTRA and Zoukout, or music by YouTube celebrities at YouTube Fan Fest, with adequate budget and support, oftentimes these festivals do a lot more for the business.
This post zooms in on KCON, which first started in 2012, by CJ E&M and MNET Media. We’ll take a look at the five things KCON has done for the Hallyu Wave.
Connecting fans: The Kpop convention’s aim is to enhance the overall experience of American fans connecting with one another. The inaugural KCON was held in Irvine, California, with a turnout of over 10,000 festival goers to more than 42,000 in Los Angeles in 2014 and 76,000 fans this 2016, according to various news sources.
Opening up new markets for SMEs: The more long term goal, for KCON is raising Korea’s brand value by increasing export of product and services globally, especially with more partnerships with Korean small and medium enterprises, according to CJ E&M America’s CEO, Angela Killoren and President of MNET’s Content Business, Shin Hyung-Kwan in The Korean Times.
Giving Kpop stars another performance stage: KCON provides a world stage for Kpop veterans and rookies alike to perform for and interact with their fans. Since 2015, KCON expanded out of SoCal to Japan and New York. In 2016, the organizers added new editions of the festivals with Paris and Abu Dhabi. They saw more than 26,000 fans with BTS, Ailee, SHINee, FT Island and I.O.I as company.
Experiencing Korea: Other than music, KCON creates a Hallyu experience that lets you get a taste of Korea without leaving home. KCON boasts a great lineup of street food, cultural workshops, panels, screenings and more.
Looking beyond financials: Although a very popular ticketed event, it was reported by the Wall Street Journal in June 2016 that the American editions only managed to break even financially. However, according to a report in The Korea Herald, Shin Hyung-kwan, president of CJ E&M’s MNET's content business, said, "KCON, which has been held in Abu Dhabi in March, Japan in April, and Paris early this month, is not just about making money. Numbers are important but what matters more is the potential created by the event for the next five, 10 and 20 years."
Marketing content (anything for that matter) is a long distance marathon more than a short distance sprint. Contrary to most beliefs that Kpop is taking a plunge, the people behind the business are now getting a better grip, understanding the fans’ behavior through data and sales figures. This knowledge and know-how will only create more platforms for Kpop stars to put themselves in front of a mainstream audience globally. Can’t wait to see what the Koreans have in store.