K-pop agencies expect little distraction from Olympics

August 1, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) — New K-pop artists and albums will continue to pop up during the Rio Olympic season, as the time difference and weaker-than-usual popularity of the global event will not distract the local audience from the K-pop entertainment scene, South Korean agencies said on Monday.

“The atmosphere is far from changing dates because of the Rio Olympic Games,” an official from a local talent agency said, standing on common ground with officials of multiple agencies.

The world’s biggest sports event, which runs Aug. 5 to 21, has increasingly lost steam in the peninsular country, they said. The 12-hour time difference between Seoul and Rio also helps the broadcasters televise the matches live, while airing the popular music shows at usual time, mostly in the afternoon.

Giant music streaming service providers Loen Entertainment and KT Music also estimated that music sales volume will be about the same, if not larger, compared to a year ago.


The promotional photos for HyunA's fifth and latest EP "A'wesome," released by Cube Entertainment.

The promotional photos for HyunA’s fifth and latest EP “A’wesome,” released by Cube Entertainment.

K-pop diva HyunA kicked off August with her new solo EP released on Monday at 12 a.m., sweeping major music charts here.

The next day, hip-hop artist Basick is slated to release a new album. The up-and-coming rapper earned instant fame through “Show Me The Money 4,” a hit competition show for rappers on Mnet.

9Muses A, a sub-unit of girl group 9Muses, also stuck to their original schedule to roll out a new EP on Thursday. “Summer is the perfect season for 9Muses A, so we did not make any changes to the dates,” said an official of Star Empire Entertainment.

Within August, first-tier idol group EXO will launch a re-packaged album, in addition to VIXX’s new EP. Winner’s Song Min-ho and iKON’s Bobby are likely to release a collaborative album as well.

Some rookies are betting big for their summer albums.

Girl group Oh My Girl released new EP “Summer Special” on Monday.

“A rookie group like Oh My Girl is not subject to the Olympic season factors,” an official of WM Entertainment said. “On top of that, the album consists of remakes of songs for summer, so we stayed with the set dates.”

BlackPink will have its debut on Aug. 8, as the first girl group from giant label YG Entertainment in seven years. The next day, a sub-unit of girl group IOI will launch a new EP. In mid-August, Korea-China K-pop girl group Cosmic Girls will make a comeback with a new member.

This undated file photo, released by YG Entertainment, shows members of BlackPink.

This undated file photo, released by YG Entertainment, shows members of BlackPink.

South Korean television broadcasters said the time slots for most of the mainstream music shows will be unaffected, pointing at KBS 2TV’s “Music Bank,” MBC TV’s “Show! Music Core,” SBS’ “Inkigayo” and Mnet’s “M Countdown.” Some of the entertainment shows that are televised at 11 p.m. or later, however, may be subject to daily cancelation.

KBS’ chief producer Han Gyung-cheon said, “Live music show ‘Music Bank’ starts at 5 a.m., Brazil time, so we decided to go by the usual time schedule. But some of the late-night shows will be canceled.”

South Korean boy group EXO performs in its Seoul concert "EXO Planet #3 - The EXO'rDIUM" at Olympic Park stadium, southeastern Seoul, on July 24, 2016.

South Korean boy group EXO performs in its Seoul concert “EXO Planet #3 – The EXO’rDIUM” at Olympic Park stadium, southeastern Seoul, on July 24, 2016.

Although August is expected to be a big time for new K-pop musicians, top-notch singers tend to refrain from arranging releases during big global events.

This August, there are only a few so-called “killer content,” such as events for HyunA, EXO and Winner-iKon, according to K-pop music marketers.

In August 2015, the K-pop scene bustled with top-tier groups Girls’ Generation, BigBang, SHINee and Wonder Girls. During this season, KT Music, the music distributer for the country’s big-three talent agencies S.M. Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment, supplied albums for some 60 groups.

KT Music’s director of content business department Hong Sang-wook said, “We get less albums by ‘big titles’ during the world-class event seasons, because the best-selling artists tend to evade such period, for risk management purposes.”

Without top-class players in the ring, fresh faces find the season more favorable to secure a niche market.

“The season definitely gives rookies new opportunities, because without these big celebrities, they get more chances to show up in shows and events than usual,” a public relations official of a local label company said, under condition of anonymity.