What’s The Future of K-Pop?

We have seen rapid growth of K-Pop in the past ten years. Based on its present status, we can forecast what will happen to K-Pop as a whole in the coming years. These will be discussed in this article.


One major question:

What would K-Pop look like ten years from now?

I also discussed this in my previous article. However, with news on the change in K-Pop industry, I decided to talk further about it in a separate article.

New groups

With new groups sprouting, and with their various debut songs, multi-fandom people like me will be confused. Which one should be followed? We will end up selecting only groups that matter.

We have witnessed various groups formed this year. These include ITZY, ONEUS, Cherry Bullet, TXT, BVNDIT, AB6IX, 1the9, TARGET, and VeriVery. These groups will be added more in the coming years. As new groups are trying to be relevant, and competing for limited attention, many will end up with less views and underrated performances.

New approaches

More stars will collaborate with non-Korean artists, like Nicki Minaj, Dua Lipa, and Lauv. But owing to lack of promotions, popularity, and music videos, these kind of music will not last for long.

With various groups catering to international audiences, and adding more English lyrics, mainstream radio stations will feature their songs. But for TV stations, only few will make it, like BTS and BLACKPINK. And only few dance crazes wil also make it.

The battle in the next years would focus more on quantity and time. The battle now would be on number of views, streams, and likes. Some existing groups are on hiatus, giving other groups chance to stand out.

With intense competition, more new songs and concepts will be featured, focusing on modern side of music, instead of traditional music used by pioneers of K-Pop. In turn, K-Pop loses its distinct flavor and might sway with mainstream trends.

The genre will expand promotions, focusing more on US and Latin America. Expect some changes if this happens, which includes assimilating Latino music into the genre.

Fans will increase. Expect more distasteful remarks between fandoms, and more support in promoting each other’s music. Sasaengs will also increase, and expect more attacks toward artists. Expect also some fandoms turning tables around, as is the case with Monbebes today.

As a whole, K-Pop might feel a gradual downturn as it battles various issues, especially that more agencies are unresponsive to these. Plus its aversion to experiment on new styles of music, as what TheBiasList pointed out. It reached the apex, and going through declining stage is becoming inevitable.

New milestones

Existing and former groups made their mark on various aspects, from album sales, concerts, and ability to penetrate Western markets. New groups will usually find it hard surpassing milestones made by pioneers, like being featured in a Time Magazine or three billion views.

We will also see more stars from new groups rise to fame. This we see today with some members of ITZY and AB6IX, who were named as one of famous Korean personalities. Even if they debuted just months ago, they immediately caught attention from more people.

More groups will disband. This is apparently the case for new groups which will only exist for a limited time (instead of usual seven years). Also, other groups under indefinite hiatus will eventually disband.

Oldies

More and more oldies will face pressing issues, like drugs, sex, and crimes, regardless if proven or not. This we see from Seungri, Daesung, and B.I, and this is not farfetched. On the other side, some oldies will do solo debuts or collab, as was the case with 2NE1’s Park Bom or Sistar’s Soyou.

More and more stars will experience depression, especially among the oldies. Take the case of Sistar’s Dasom, and even Taeyeon from Girls’ Generation. Worse, this might lead to another death like that of Sulli.

If not involved in bad stuff, more oldies will go to drama, and some will go on a date and marry. They will prefer to stick on personal life. This we see now with 2NE1’s Dara, who is now dating with her longtime crush. Even SHINee’s Minho is now thinking of having a family. Take also the words of Jin and V (Taehyung), who want to live simple lives after ten years.

Specific Forecasts

YG Entertainment, while still taking the lead in bringing K-Pop to the world, will struggle to be relevant in the music industry, as it battles various issues from its talents.

Others like SM, BigHit, JYP, and even small entertainment agencies will still remain afloat. Meanwhile, new agencies like that of Daniel Kang and PSY will start showing their own talents, competing with the big ones.  As to 1theK, we see less and less MV uploads from other agencies to the channel.

K-Pop sees Japan as a very profitable and “critical” market. In fact, July 2019 was full of comebacks in Japanese. Some groups already have Japanese members (like IZ*ONE, TWICE, and Cherry Bullet). However, the ongoing trade war and racism against Japan will indirectly cripple K-Pop in terms of sales.

Military service

All of EXO, SHINee, and Super Junior members in the camp today will finish military service, in which case they will continue their careers together.

As to BTS, all members will be in active service, at which point their fame will be on a halt until their comeback. In the meantime, TXT will take the lead.

Other talents

Produce 101 will not air anymore owing to breach of trust with fans and future trainees. This vacuum will be filled by other shows, which more or less adopt the same format. On other cases, existing groups and members will venture on different shows like Queendom, as another way of promotions.

Few soloists will stand out, like IU, Chung Ha, Heize, Park Bom, and Eric Nam. Others like Mina (AOA), Sunha (SATURDAY), and other Pristin members who left their groups will battle for fame as soloists or venture on drama.

Opening doors to non-Korean talents are giving exciting prospects to K-Pop. Expect more agencies opening its doors to them. In fact, JYP Entertainment debuted its Chinese group Boy Story, and SM Ent did the same with WayV. An agency debuted SB19, an all-Filipino group, and Zenith Media formed Z-Boys and Z-Girls.

For Z-Boys and Z-Girls, though they are quite related/non-related to K-Pop, their boom in the future will inspire other agencies to follow their concepts, shifting K-Pop to become more global in approach. This also might push agencies to add more non-Koreans to their respective groups, which will force some Koreans to tone down their racist remarks.

Final Words

In general, the challenges K-Pop will face in the coming years include (1) ability to penetrate mainstream media, (2) maintaining the vibe it has amidst globalization, (3) agencies to respond to worst of issues, (4) handling of increase in new groups, (5) keeping and maintaining talents (as is the case with IZ*ONE), (6) surpass milestones made by pioneers, and (7) need to change negative attitudes of some Koreans.

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