More Korean Singers Make Inroads into Japan

      March 12, 2018 12:04

      More Korean singers of different age groups and musicians from various genres are venturing into the Japanese music market, which has mostly been limited to young K-pop singers.

      Singer-songwriter Lee Juck will release a compilation album consisting of his hit songs in Japan next month. "The Japanese music market is much more diverse than Korea's, so we expect Lee to do well there," his management agency said, with high expectations.

      Lee Seung-hwan held his first concert in Japan in March 2016, and more of his concerts in Tokyo and Osaka in May last year sold out. Tickets to indie rock band Guckkasten's concert in Tokyo in June last year sold out in just five minutes.

      Lee Juck

      Japan's music market is the second-largest in the world, with sales of albums remaining strong. According to a report by Eugene Investment and Securities, digital music accounted for 58 percent in Korea in 2016 compared to 17 percent in Japan, far below the world average of 46 percent.

      There were still more than 2,000 record shops in Japan as of last year. Demand for jazz and classical music remains steady, despite a mere 3 percent of the market. This is quite different from the Korean music scene, where it is hard for non-idol groups to survive, partly due to the strong preference for streaming services.

      The spread of social media has also boosted interest in the Korean music overall beyond K-pop. "The surge of various communication means and online channels like YouTube give users easy access to other forms of pop culture and music, allowing the influx of more varied genres of Korean music to spread to Japan as well," pop culture critic Ha Jae-keun said.

      Another critic said, "For Korean singers and musicians, Japan can be an attractive market in terms of geographical proximity as well as diversity of music."

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