As 2019 is over two months in, K-Pop fans are struggling to keep their bank accounts above water. Why? Concert season has arrived. Nearly twenty K-Pop artists have announced and/or been on tours that venture outside of their home country of South Korea. Internationally known artists such as Monsta X, Red Velvet, Black Pink, and Winner have all announced or been on tour since 2019 began. New artists are coming into the mix too, like the recently debuted Ateez, and younger groups like Stray Kids and A.C.E. However, some veterans in the industry are returning: Epik High, who debuted nearly 16 years ago in 2003 announced they will be going on tour again. Solo artists are having a big year as well: soloists like Tiffany Young, Eric Nam, and Sunmi are all going on tour.
Aside from the sheer mass of artists going on tour only three months into the year, there are some interesting aspects about this “concert season.” The first notable characteristic is the soloists that are touring. In K-Pop, it is very rare to have a solo artists, let alone one that is successful. Of course there have been successful soloists in the industry, like the “Nation’s Little Sister” IU, but the amount soloists that have the ability to stay relevant and successful pales in comparison to the amount of groups that become successful in the industry. Typically, most successful solo artists aren’t simply soloists like IU; they are usually a part of a group, and they have the talent to take on a solo venture and be successful at it. But that trend seems to be changing. Artists like Tiffany Young and Sunmi, who were once a part of a group but have since left, have still somehow managed to stay relevant and quite successful. In addition to that, Tiffany Young and Sunmi are female artists, and although their former groups were/are legendary, they are still female artists, and typically in the K-Pop industry male artists (whether solo or groups) have been more successful than their female counterparts. However, with the globalization of K-Pop, female artists are rapidly rising in popularity and seemingly have a larger international fanbase than their domestic fanbase. This could explain why female solo artists like Sunmi and Tiffany Young are able to tour.
The second aspect that is new is the amount of young groups that have announced tours. Artists like Black Pink, Stray Kids, and A.C.E, who are relatively young in the industry have all announced their individual tours. The youngest of them all is Ateez, who is barely five months old. This is an interesting new trend because usually in this industry a group must have a secure enough fanbase and have had to have amassed a certain amount of money from sales to even consider a tour. But that seems to be changing with artists like these, and it seems as though companies are beginning to release that securing an international fanbase early rather than focusing on their domestic fanbase could be a pathway to success. However, they wouldn’t be forgetting their domestic fanbase because at the end of the day, this is a Korean group singing in Korean. Through these tours, companies would be promoting and marketing their artist internationally, growing that fanbase early in the artist’s career. With the globalization of K-Pop, this theory seems to be genius, but only time will tell if these practices are successful.
This new “concert season” will lead to the international growth of K-Pop as a genre, and the industry will only continue to expand from here. Even though there is guarantee that these tours will be successful, the amount of money being poured into the shows by the companies does not foreshadow these shows being anything less than spectacular.
Claire Coburn is an Intern Writer for Pub Sports Radio