The Science Behind: K-Pop Industries
Updated: Jul 31, 2020
A lot of times when people get into K-Pop music, they think about how the bands are formed or how there are solo idols. Sometimes their general assumptions are one of the two- 1) K-Pop bands are formed like Western bands. 2) K-Pop trainees are put through a life-time of vigorous training and no fun before they debut as a group or solo. Well, is that really the truth though?
No. It's not.
Unlike western bands, K-Pop bands are not formed in garages. They don't start by waiting for labels/entertainments to pick them up. In fact, Korean bands are formed by labels/entertainments. For example, the K-Pop boy band BTS. You might have heard of them. They are legends to me. They are a seven-member group under BigHit Entertainment consisting of- RM (Kim Namjoon) the main rapper and the leader, Jin (Kim Seokjin) the vocalist and visual, Suga/Agust D (Min Yoongi) the lead rapper, J-Hope (Jung Hoseok) lead rapper and main dancer, Jimin (Park Jimin) lead vocalist and main dancer, V (Kim Taehyung) vocalist, and Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook) main vocalist, lead dancer, sub rapper, center/ face of the group, maknae.
The process of forming a K-Pop band is a very hard and picky one. Singers are found in many ways- sometimes the labels hold auditions, other times they are discovered off the street. A lot of times, failed bands under smaller labels are picked up. However, even after the talent is discovered, it still isn't ready to be shown off. Through the process of elimination, possible members are accordingly removed from the hundreds to twenty to ten (some group may have a bit more than 10-12. It depends on the company and how many members they want).
Once the choice of trainees is done, they do what their name implies. They train hard to become as good as possible for starters. They get better eventually. They even get better when they have become idols. BTS for example, gets better every year, with every album they release and maybe a bit every concert. Trainees do vocal training and learn how to dance. Sometimes, they become background dancer for other groups before debut to understand how to be on stage and act on stage. The K-Pop industries believe that an artist shouldn't only know how to carry a tune, they hold the artist to there highest standards and potential. They believe an artist should know how to also act and be able to participate in sports like the Idol Star Athletics Championship.
The reason for its intense standards is the fact that South Korea, although is a small country, they are very competitive and are known for their music industries and how they make a huge amount of money.
Although, once the band is officially formed, they will first debut on stage during various music shows to increase the hype. The reaction will be observed and according to changes will be made before they officially debut with a song and music video.
Unlike Western boy-bands, who usually have a concept they stick with throughout the whole of their career, K-Pop bands change their concept with every album or comeback. For BTS, in their first album "2 Cool 4 Skool", they sing about "What Is Your Dream?" which is like a fresh new take on 90s hip-hop! The next album is all about how "You must find your happiness and your own life before it's too late" naming "O!RUL8,2?" They are similar but different. It varies. (While many K-Pop songs are about relationships and love, BTS cover subjects that other bands might not, like bullying, elitism, and mental health.)
Also unlike Western bands, these concepts are generally chosen by the labels/entertainments, not the band itself. While bands do have a say in their concepts, they do not have the final say. In the K-Pop industry, the label chooses everything- the concepts, the songs, the fashions, the music videos, the venues, and the fan meets. One alternative on BTS though is the fact that BigHit was a small label and BTS made them popular and so BTS mostly choose a few of their own concepts and the songs are sometimes written by the members themselves. It' is very much a reverse of the Western music industries.
BTS with a bit of help from BigHit has become an extremely popular, successful, talented, and hardworking band counting the fact that most of them were still in school even after their debut as an official band and their ARMY (Fans) is very supportive and we hope the same for TXT, the upcoming BigHit band after BTS!