Beware Burnout

Ko Koike, CEO of Japanese chart compiler Oricon, was in Korea recently talking about the Korean wave’s impact on Japan and he has some cautionary words for his hosts.

Though several top acts have done very well in Japan, he believes that too many K-pop acts are being hoisted on the island country. The result could be burnout.

“I’m afraid the rotation of Korean acts through Japan is too fast,” he said at the Gaon Charts K-pop Awards, according to the Chosunilbo newspaper. “Right now there is a fan base for K-pop due to the appeal of groups like Girls Generation and Kara, but what will matter in the future is the variety of music that Korean artists will offer.”

He explained that the pattern for K-pop singers is to “remain in Japan briefly” and tour “only major cities.”

The strategy is to hit hard and fast in major urban markets, which doesn’t necessarily do much for their broad popularity.
The result could be that if the more popular K-pop artists lose their grip on the Japanese imagination, all K-pop will be considered “just a flash in the pan.”

As long as K-pop is topical, the music will sell well, but individual artists will need a deeper hold on Japanese fans. That means distinguishing themselves not only from other K-pop artists, but from artists in general.