It is widely agreed that the West-East binary or the Euro-America and East Asia binary are highly problematic, as overlaps, intersections, and entanglements have always existed since the inception of popular music and the recording industry. Still, these binaries keep on haunting us: dialogues, communication, and cross-fertilization across cultures and regions prove often to be difficult. This predicament is mirrored in academic disciplines: studies on Asian popular music are torn between cultural studies and Asian studies and/or popular music studies and ethnomusicology. More and more, however, Asian scholars who are based in the region engage in the publication of their works in English while scholars from Europe and Americas produce works based on mutual respect. How, then, to truly move beyond geographical and disciplinary boundaries when we study popular music? This session engages with this question by inviting scholars who have struggled to carve out the space for knowledge production in the hope of creating common grounds for talking about the multiple differences in and of Asian popular music. Rather than detailed case studies, the panelists from different places on this planet focus on the concepts, theories, methods, frameworks, and their personal experiences and struggles in engaging with popular musics from “Asia.”
Key Words : popular music, the East-West, dialogue
Hyunjoon Shin is currently a professional and professorial researcher on popular music in East Asia and beyond at Sungkonghoe University. Before then, he had worked both as an academic and a journalist. He has enjoyed international (net)working and has led the Inter-Asia Popular Music studies group as a semi-official chair. Meanwhile, he was called upon by Inter-Asia Cultural Studies and Popular Music as a committee member, editorial one for the former and advisory one for the latter. Recently he has been writing on the histories of East Asian popular music, although it has been stopping for a while.
As David Novak and others have demonstrated, when popular music circulates from one sociohistorical situation to another, it takes on new values and signified meanings—and those newly acquired values and meanings often feedback into the original ‘home’ situation, rewriting the values and meanings the music has there. Does a similar logic apply to the circulation of Asian popular music across scholarly disciplines and critical discourses? Scholarly and critical attention to Asian popular music has arisen from a number of different disciplines and modes: Area Studies, cultural studies, ethnomusicology, subcultural studies, popular culture studies, sociology, and even linguistics, among others. While mostly sharing origins in Cold War academia and intellectual discourses, these different approaches have in recent decades traveled widely and been appropriated and translated into various novel situations with varying effects. As one trained in North America in Area Studies, literary theory, and cultural studies approaches, I have since the mid-1990s been researching and teaching Japanese popular music at the university level. I will present a series of reflections on some of what has been gained and lost, what has been transformed and what has persisted, in this complex and ongoing process of circulation across disciplinary, geographical, and institutional boundaries.
Key Words : circulation, Area Studies, ethnomusicology, popular music studies, cultural studies, Cold War, Japan
Michael Bourdaghs is a specialist in modern Japanese and culture. He is the author of Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop (2012; Japanese translation 2012) and co-editor of Sound Alignments: Popular Music in Asia’s Cold Wars (forthcoming in 2021). He has published articles on The Kinks, Japan’s prewar “Continental Melodies,” and is currently working on a book on Japan’s cultures of the Cold War. He is a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago, where he regularly teaches a course on “Approaches to East Asian Popular Music.” He has previously taught at UCLA and International Christian University (Japan).
Doing the trans-local or trans-Asia flow of popular music studies is always difficult and often turns out in a zigzag way. Especially the study cases of cross-strait popular music between international indie music communities across Taiwan, mainland China and other places in the planet. This paper focuses on presenting a reflexive research method and framework as ‘the triangulation perspective’ which mixes the means and metaphor of the qualitative research method of ‘triangulation’. The triangulation perspective helps to depict the bizarre moment of trans-local popular music meanings and reflexively distill the critical interpretation which goes beyond the perspectives of insiders and outsiders. The three mutually mirroring aspects construct the triangulation. (1) To anchor the local cultural position in the world’s popular music studies. Demonstrates the bridging ways of the concept and practices of the Asian popular culture with the international world. (2) To highlight the singularity and significance of local popular music politics within the specific local historical and social context. (3) To distance from the mainstream perspectives both of the popular music study and the state governance of popular music, in order to distill the possible intervening of the uneasy local cultural politics. However, the necessary comparative explanations are very interrupting but cannot be avoided.
Key Words : East Asia popular music, trans-local music, Taiwan, China, triangulation
Miaoju Jian is professor of Communication at National Chung Cheng University, Chia-yi, Taiwan. Her research interests and publications have covered topics from the culture and political economy of reality TV programs to indie-music scenes and DIY culture in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and East Asia. She has authored numerous academic articles in Chinese and often writes music and cultural reviews in the media. Her English publications include journal articles and book chapters. The latest one book chapter in ‘Made in Taiwan: Studies in Popular Music’ which she co-edited with Eva Tsai and Tung-hung Ho published by Routledge in early 2020.
I will reflect on teaching my undergraduate course on Asian American musics in a way that could more fully account for intense transnational flows of Asian popular musics. Who listens to Asian popular musics in California, or on the Pacific Rim west coast, and why? I will consider the emergence of the generation born in the mid-1990s that now consumes Asian popular music as it streams across multiple platforms. But rather than position Asian American Generation Z as avid consumers of a product from elsewhere, I ask how Asian America has morphed into a large multiplex formation that hears itself in Asia. Iwabuchi argues that popular music studies should leave behind the “banal internationalism” that continually resituate the nation as the primary unit of encounter (Iwabuchi 2014). Padoongpatt suggests that Thai restaurants in the US created Thai Americans and not vice-versa (Padoongpatt 2017). Metzger asserts that “globalization is a theatrical discourse” and is always about representation even when it seems focused on things (Metzger 2020, 27–29). In sum, I ask not why Asian Americans listen to Asian popular music but whether Asian America is now forecast in Asia through fandom and spectatorship.
Key Words: diaspora, transnational flows, ethnomusicology, spectatorship, Asian Pacific
Deborah Wong is an ethnomusicologist and Professor of Music at the University of California, Riverside. She specializes in the musics of Asian America and Thailand and has written three books: Louder and Faster: Pain, Joy, and the Body Politic in Asian American Taiko (2019), Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music (2004), and Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Ritual (2001). She is a past President of the Society for Ethnomusicology, a series editor for Wesleyan University Press’s Music/Culture series, and a curator for the new Asian Pacific America Series for Smithsonian Folkways.
Granted, the above title paraphrases a Shakespearean line, profoundly Eurocentric, undermining the question itself. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I want to articulate in my paper an affirmative answer, to explicate the need to decolonise popular music studies. Engaging with current literatures on the decolonisation of whatever studies, my aims are two-fold. First, I will reflect rather narcissistically on my own experiences, of being an Amsterdam-based scholar working on Chinese popular music studies for decades. The crux of the problem revolves around a simple observation: why do colleagues in media and popular music studies assume me to know the Pet Shop Boys, while they feel comfortable to be totally ignorant about the music of Tatming Pair? What is going on here? Second, drawing on my working experiences at a Beijing-based university, I want to explore how to move beyond the deadlock of East-West binaries, how to resist a Chinese essentialism and exceptionalism from within? Here I am gesturing to the danger of inverting the Euro / Anglocentric bias we, as popular music studies scholars, are facing, that is, a retreat to the idea of indigenous knowledge, a celebration of the local as the marker of the real, a retreat that is entangled with ideas about cultural purity. Can the decolonisation debate help me escape from this Eurocentrism versus Localism dilemma, and if so how? And in its slipstream, how, then, can we use Asia as a method to speak back to popular music studies at large?
Key Words : Decolonisation, Asia as Method, Eurocentrism
Jeroen de Kloet is Professor of Globalisation Studies and Head of the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. He is also affiliated to the Communication University of China. With Anthony Fung he published Youth Cultures in China (Polity 2017). With Lena Scheen and Yiu Fai Chow he edited Boredom, Shanzhai, and Digitisation in the Time of Creative China (Amsterdam University Press 2019). With Gladys Pak Lei Chong and Yiu Fai Chow he edited Trans-Asia as Method: Theory and Practices. (Rowman and Littlefield 2019) See also http://jeroendekloet.nl and http://chinacreative.humanities.uva.nl
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, Mongolia embraced a new democratic society, transforming itself peacefully from a socialist to a democratic country with a free-market economy. Mongolia opened itself to the world, as a result, embracing socio-cultural diversity in all aspects of its society. Western cultural modes and linguistic resources thus have become inextricable sociocultural realities of young people in new post-socialist Mongolia. Drawing on the musical practices of popular music artists in contemporary Mongolia, this paper addresses two main questions: (1) how new forms of local cultures/languages (2) how new forms of identities are performed through the complex cultural and linguistic processes of relocalization of popular music resources. The study shows that post-socialist Mongolian popular music artists should better be understood as active popular music producers contrary to those prevalent discourses which position peripheral youth as passive recipients of global culture. Positioned within the fluid nature of the global digital practice and the increasing global spread of linguistic and cultural resources, these Mongolian artists create not only new forms of sociolinguistic and cultural practices but also perform multiple new identities of what it means to be a young modern Mongolian person through their musical performances.
Key words : language, identity, popular music, Mongolia, the Hu, Mongol pop, Mongolian hip hop
Sender Dovchin is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Education, Curtin University, Australia. She is a Discovery Early Career Research Fellow (DECRA) awarded by an Australian Research Council. She has authored numerous articles in international peer-reviewed journals in the peripheral Asian contexts of popular music such as Mongolia and Bangladesh. Dovchin’s first book Language, Media and Globalization in the Periphery: The Linguascapes of Popular Music in Mongolia was published in 2018 by Routledge. Her second book, Language, Social Media and Ideologies was published by Springer in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world dramatically, and music industry is not an exception. Musicians had to meet and show their performances to the audience though in-person concerts with a crowd were not allowed. Therefore, music labels and industry had to provide musical experiences via different means when it became almost impossible to have live concerts on a local, regional, and global scale. The audience still, or even more than ever, needed music in this life-threatening situation as comforter just like musicians and the industry needed them to survive. They had to communicate with each other for their own sake in very restricted conditions.
In fact, the music industry already had some technologies that could provide a fan meeting and even a live performance when the physical venue was not available. And the audience were well-equipped with devices harnessing those technologies to enjoy events going online. And yet, it is always not easy to try new things with a risk when everything seems ok with keeping doing what we have been doing. Also, the industry did not have enough experiences and know-hows about organizing online-only or on- and off-line hybrid format events and making reasonable profits from them by communicating with the audience closely via online. Thus, the music industry was not sure whether it should or even could put those technologies into practice. However, the pandemic pushed us – musicians, the industry and the audience were forced to try what they already had but did not want to use so soon. Now the pandemic situation is getting much better than when it was on its peak and musicians have begun what they used to do before the COVID-19. But we all have experienced the new way of producing and distributing music products, holding live performances and other events, and enjoying them virtually via online. Now we know there is a new possibility. It means things will never be the same and we cannot go back with pretending that nothing happened, even though the COVID-19 has gone. It will truly be a new era.
The Music Industry Plenary Session of IAPSM 2022 ‘Imagining the Post-Pandemic Music Industry’ aims at discussing this ongoing shift and what will come next in the music industry. Discussions of the Session will be based on experiences, conflicts, and controversies that the industry has met during the pandemic. While for some recent difficult situations due to the COVID-19 have caused the downfall and collapse, for others it has led to a new path with unexpected possibilities. In the Session, speakers are invited to share their experiences in and outside South Korea during the pandemic era including, but not limited to, how they have organized, promoted, and hosted live music events in an online or a hybrid format, how other musical products have been produced and circulated, and how the audience has reacted to these new music environments. Through this, speakers will show their perspectives on the future of the music industry in terms of producer, organizer, promoter, critic, and the audience.
Three presenters all share an understanding that COVID-19 has offered a ‘cristinity’ to the Korean music industry. Dr. Youngdae KIM, music critic and ethnomusicologist, explores what challenges K-Pop has faced during the pandemic and how it has put brought forward the futuristic aspects the music has sought over many years, including metaverse idols and global K-pop group launching projects. Victor M.K. KYE, director of Jarasum Jazz Festival, introduces his creative strategies, for example, to expand the placeness of festivals through adding an air of festivity to the participants’ own areas and to support collaboration amongst musicians in virtual space. Noting that K-pop has expanded itself in terms of music and industry by responding to the pandemic crisis effectively, Bernie CHO highlights facts and figures on key K-pop business model trends.
Though music industry is considered one of the most unpredictable fields in the cultural industries among others, still it is meaningful to think about what will come next. Because of new experiences forcibly given by the urgent situation during these two years and a half, now vital players of music industry such as musicians, industry insiders, the media, and the fan come to have different expectations on one another. From music industry experts with various perspectives, this Plenary Session can show insightful visions of the future music industry.
Dr. Gyu Tag LEE received his bachelor’s in English language and literature, and his master’s in communication from Seoul National University. In 2013, he earned his doctorate in Cultural Studies from George Mason University. Since 2014, he has been teaching at George Mason University Korea. He is an expert of popular music, media studies, globalization of culture, and especially, K-Pop. He has been writing books and articles about K-Pop, popular music and Hallyu for a number of on- and off-line media, and is a committee member of Korean Music Awards. Additionally, he has been interviewed by a number of Korean domestic and international media such as Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post, Netflix's documentary Explained, EBS's public lecture Class e, Joong-Ang Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo, KBS, MBC, SBS, YTN, etc.
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic was arguably the biggest crisis and setback for the music industry, but it has also provided an unexpected opportunity that made it possible to imagine the transformation and the revolution for a new industry. K-pop was no exception as it had to adapt to the unfamiliar environment and seek appropriate changes. To be precise, K-pop was already in the midst of unprecedented growth before the outbreak of COVID-19, adjusting the timing of change and innovation as a genre and as an industry. In particular, this growth was more clearly pronounced in the US market, the world's largest music scene, than in the domestic market in Asia, the traditional target of K-pop. BTS had already been preparing to become the world's best pop group as the most hyped group on social media for several years, and the acts like NCT 127 and Blackpink also successfully completed their North American tour respectively, continuing the tremendous momentum in the US mainstream market. While COVID-19 appeared to potentially delay this unstoppable march of K-pop and Hallyu, it ultimately had the unexpected result of hastening the future that K-pop had already envisioned for many years, further cementing K-pop's status as a powerhouse of pop music in a new era. This talk seeks to explore the changes that K-Pop has faced over the past few years and the inevitable future it has brought forward, such as metaverse idols, app-based fan community platforms and global K-pop group launching projects.
Dr. Youngdae KIM is a music critic and author, holding a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Washington, Seattle. Born and raised in South Korea, he lived in the US from 2007 to 2020 where he studied music while observing and documenting the evolution of global K-pop over a decade. Kim has contributed his critical articles to both Korean and American media, including Vulture, MTV, and the Hankyoreh, and appeared on numerous TV/radio shows, podcasts, and public/academic lectures globally. He is the author of multiple books, including BTS The Review: The Comprehensive Look at the Music of BTS (2019) and Idols as Artists in the K-pop Era (2021).
I experienced the pandemic era as a music festival director and a music producer. Facing the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic without any preparation, I could imagine the post-pandemic world through opportunities offered by music, and create new possibilities through an interaction amongst contents and audiences.
While local music and festivals have put down roots by finding new meanings within the local scene, the global music market has presented new opportunities by continuing to transform its own form through new technologies such as AR, metaverse, and NFT.
To cope with the global medical crisis where festivals could not help but be held in its in-person form, I took full advantage of virtual space. For example, I expanded the venues to the entire city, introduced hidden local attractions and related music to people in exact detail, and explored possibilities to link festivals to the Korean tourist industry. Furthermore, I expanded the placeness of festivals, by adding an air of festivity to the participants’ own areas.
I, as a producer, supported musicians who could meet neither their colleagues nor audiences due to COVID-19 in various ways. For instance, I launched projects that enable them to create music in online collaboration with artists from other countries, made high-quality videos, and produced a video platform that introduces individual musicians in detail.
Did these changes simply happen due to the pandemic crisis? Will these disappear if the disaster ends? I do not think so. In my point of view, as cultural arts develop throughout human history, new changes brought about during the pandemic as part of our history will also have a major impact on the music market. These may be the events that have become part of the present a little earlier thanks to the pandemic, rather than ones that simply occurred owing to the pandemic. This would be the key to solving many problems raised by the second world barrier which we could confront in the future.
Victor M.K. KYE worked at LG Arts Center as music producer for six years. Since 2007, he has held Jarasum Jazz Festival as a programmer and director. Kye worked as program director for Gwangju World Music Festival (a.k.a ACC World Music Festival) between 2010 and 2017. Also, he organized several music festival such as Jazzpresso festival, Sea and Jazz Festival, Yeowoorak festival, Hi Seoul Festival, Voyage to Jarasum and so forth. Kye has participated in many international jazz and world music festivals and international music fairs to create and facilitate the interplay between Korean and international music scenes.
Since the onset of 2020, as the world struggled with the trials and tribulations of social distancing, slowdowns, and shutdowns spurred by the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea inspirationally emerged as an international benchmark for intriguing best practices due its innovative responses to the global medical crisis.
However, such innovative responses were not restricted solely to the local medical sector. Flipping WTF situations into FTW solutions, the K-Pop music industry also managed to find modern ways and alternative means to not only survive but also thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By tackling market challenges and transforming them into market opportunities, K-Pop as a music genre continued to expand its successful surge of exporting international chart-topping, best-selling, and award-winning artists.
But now powered by new platforms and empowered by new paradigms, K-Pop as a business model has recently and robustly evolved to provide valuable lessons and invaluable learnings for the international music industry in the post-pandemic era.
In my brief presentation, I will highlight some facts and figures on key K-Pop business model trends that will serve as the baseline outline for further discussion on the future of the post-pandemic music industry.
Keywords : K-pop, Korean Music, Kollaboration, Fandustry, Full-Stack, Glocalization, K-poponomics, Innovasian, Culture Technology, Untact
Bernie CHO is the president of DFSB Kollective, a Seoul-based independent artist and label services agency, one of the first and foremost Korean music exporters to top international Digital Service Providers such as Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, TIDAL, Tencent Music Entertainment, NetEase Cloud Music, TikTok, Facebook/Instagram, and more. He is the executive producer of Korean music showcases and featured speaker on Korean music trends at top international music industry conferences in North America (CMW/SXSW), Asia-Pacific (Music Matters), and Europe (MIDEM). Bernie is a special project consultant for international advertising agencies (RGA/Octagon), video game developers (Ubisoft/Riot Games), and movie/documentary production studios (A24/YouTube Originals/Vice Media).