K-Pop is hardly a niche genre, but until recently, its fans were found primarily in Korea, neighboring Asian countries and Korean immigrants in the US and elsewhere. Spotify, with its global footprint, helped change that two years ago with the launch of its Korean pop genre hub. The streamer could do the same for other genres and culturally based music, but it's efforts to spotlight music ranging from Americana to ska have been spotty at best.
K-Pop has seen its global popularity grow since the launch of Spotify’s Korean pop genre hub two years ago. Since the hub’s launch in 2015, more than 6.6 billion K-Pop tracks have been streamed globally on the music service, with users spending over 14.4 billion minutes listening to their favourite Korean tracks.
Spotify’s K-Pop Hub
The K-Pop hub, which includes everything from the latest K-Pop tracks to Korean OSTs, was initially introduced in Asia (The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong) as a result of the genre’s popularity across the region. The launch further drove the number of streams and sharing of Korean music, leading to breakthrough hits including Puss by AOA Jimin, It G Ma by Keith Ape, Hello Bitches by CL and I by Taeyeon.
K-Pop Hub in numbers:
- The number of streams of K-Pop tracks have grown by 63% year on year.
- The K-Pop Hub currently has over 4.8 million followers.
- The top streamed Spotify owned and operated K-Pop playlists within the hub include K-Pop Daebak, Korean OSTs, and K-Party Dance Mix.
"K-Pop or the Hallyu wave is truly an Asian success story," according to Eve Tan, Shows & Editorial, Team Lead, Spotify Asia. "For a genre that’s in a different language and from a very different culture, it is truly inspiring to see how K-Pop is making its mark on the global stage. Allowing Spotify fans across the world to enjoy and be inspired by Korean music, is something that we are excited about.”
Spotify Could Do The Same For Other Genres, But It's Not
At the center of Spotify's effort to encourage K-Pop's global growth is its genre hub. By featuring top playlists, artists and new releases within the hub, Spotify both shines a spotlight on select artists and provides a portal for further discovery.
But the streamer's selection of hubs for other genres is uneven at best.
There is a genre hub for Folk & Americana, for example, but search on just Americana and you get nothing. It's an error easily fixed, but speaks volumes as to how much this popular genre matters to the streamer.
There are also no Spotify genre hubs for death metal, bluegrass, ska, dub, dubstep, country rock and classic rock, to name just a few surprising omissions.
How K Pop Grew On Spotify
Given the chance, more genres could find an expanded global audience on Spotify, much like K-Pop has.
First brought to the world’s attention by PSY’s 2012 global smash Gangnam Style, K-Pop is now evolving into a diverse and popular subculture globally. Driven by social media fan fever and Korean TV dramas the Korean Wave is now breaking through to the USA, Latin America, Europe and other parts of the world.
In order to capitalise on their rising global popularity, many K-Pop artists now record songs in multiple languages to gain wider recognition. Certain bands have even formed subunits to target different audiences. For example, super group EXO , represented by SM Entertainment. perform songs targeted to both Korean and Mandarin speaking audiences. Similarly, NCT has three sub units: NCT U, NCT 127 and NCT Dream. Each sub unit is focused to performing and reaching out to different age groups and demographics.
The K-Pop Experience All Around The World
Based on Spotify’s internal data, each country show different consumption patterns when it comes to streaming Korean music.
Spotify users in Mexico tend to hit play for songs by Korean boybands; while, listeners in Brazil enjoy streaming K-Pop party tracks. In Singapore, many turn to Korean original soundtracks (OST) just as often as they watch Korean dramas.
Top 5 Korean Tracks Streamed in the US:
Top 5 Korean Artists in the US: