So to put these misconceptions to rest, I'm here to give you the rundown on how the Korean pop industry actually works!
Unlike western bands, Korean pop bands aren't formed in a garage, and they don't begin by opening for larger bands until a label picks them up. Instead, Korean bands are formed by labels. For instance the Kpop boyband Big Bang is made of five members formed under the label YG. Big Bang consists of five members: leader GDragon, rapper T.O.P., vocal Taeyang, vocal Daesung, and vocal Seungri.
|Big Bang. L-R: Seungri, GDragon, Taeyang, T.O.P., Daesung (source)|
|Also, Kpop cds have the coolest packaging in the world.|
The reason for this intensely high standard is because South Korea is a very small, but very competitive, country; and their music industry makes a huge amount of money. There is a downside to this factor, though - like with any industry, the quality will fluctuate depending on the current demand (last year saw the debut of some fairly 'low-quality' bands as the industry tried to keep up with the sudden demand from western countries).
Once the band is officially formed, they will first debut onstage during various music shows to increase the hype. The reaction will be weighed and the necessary changes made before the band 'officially' debuts with a song and music video.
|MAMAMOO, my favorite girl band. (source)|
Also unlike Western bands, these concepts are generally chosen by the label, not the band itself. While bands do have a say in their concepts, they do not have the final say. In the Kpop industry, the label chooses everything - the concepts, the songs, the fashions, the music videos, the venues, the fanmeets. It's very much the reverse of the Western music industry. While artists often do write their own lyrics - and some artists, like Xiah Junsu, tend to control their own concepts - in the end, the label has the say-so.
|A screencap from EXO's music video, 'Monster'|
While the South Korean music industry gives us incredible music from extremely talented, hardworking artists, it does have downsides; and I'll be discussing those downsides two weeks from now. Stay tuned!
Do you have any questions about the Kpop industry? Let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!