Diversification in Kpop

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

More than just CDs, we take a look at how entertainment companies are re-innovating the wheel to make their artists relevant.

One of the main sources of revenue for music labels and entertainment companies were CDs and those limited edition box sets (those that hard core fans pre-order way ahead of launch). With fandom morphing into an “online first” phenomena, physicals are gradually of less importance in major music markets.

This time, we’ll take a look at some cases on how major Kpop entertainment companies and artists have taken vast steps to diversify their businesses and portfolios beyond music.

1. JYP Entertainment

Started by the talented JY Park, the agency has an actors division, which actively pushes its artists for a wide variety of movies and dramas.

Taecyeon in the latest tvN drama, "Let's Fight Ghosts" and Suzy in KBS drama, "Uncontrollably Fond”, co-starring Kim Woo Bin.

JYP artists Ok Taecyeon and Bae Suzy

Besides domestic projects, JYP artists have also successfully marketed internationally with Choi Woo Shik starring in the Eric Khoo’s film “In The Room” and the internationally acclaimed zombie movie “Train to Busan”. Nickhun has also made waves in his home country, starred in 2012 award-winning film, "Seven Something" and consistently made cameo in recent Thai movies.

2. Artist crossovers

In recent times, some Kpop artists have decided act on their personal goals and passions, taking it to a whole new level.

Take a look at T.O.P. Apart from his rapper role in BigBang, if you’re a follower of his Instagram account, you’d notice his longstanding interest in art. In his first ever collaboration with Sotheby's, T.O.P personally curated several fine art pieces for his first auction in Hong Kong. His aunts taught him to draw and paint, but as he grew up, he had an important realization. “I preferred looking at art – and immersing myself in it – to actually painting things myself.”

Korean-American artist, Eric Nam was first discovered from one of his cover songs on YouTube. He went on to host Arirang TV’s "After School Club" after appearing on "Birth of A Great Star 2" in 2012. Eric recently made his debut back home in the United States, collaborating with KOLAJ for a “summer by the beach” track, “Into You”. The PV featured Ian Chen from “Fresh Off the Boat” was also released and received great feedback.

Eric had expressed in an article that it was his dream to crossover to the US and do things that aren't necessarily Kpop. Fulfilling their passion is one, but diversifying their portfolios leads to greater opportunities for endorsements and builds a stronger identities for causes these artists care about. This deepens the connections fans have with their favorite idol stars.

3. SM Entertainment x SUM Market

SM Entertainment didn’t just start the international Kpop phenomena with BoA, TVXQ, Girls’ Generation and Super Junior, they’ve now turned these artists into brands. Imagine Super Junior Chips, BoA chocolates and Girls’ Generation beer. This isn’t a joke. It is a partnership with E-Mart and other local retailers. You’ll find these products in SUM - SM’s new convenience store chain, located in the SM Entertainment Communication Center @Cheongdam and SMTOWN@coexartium.

Collaboration with young designers to create artist-inspired designs to bring out the identity of each SM artist group, enhances the connection the artists have with fans.

These examples only mark the beginning. According to Will Gompertz’s “Think Like an Artist”, unusual combinations mixing old and new, stimulate original ideas, shaped by our personality and temperament, making them uniquely ours.