The Digital Transformation of the Korean Music Industry and the Global Emergence of K-Pop

There are a number of voices who blame digitization for having a number of negative effects on the music industry including a decline in album sales, copyright infringement, unfair royalty payments, and competition with foreign multinationals. Yet, the global emergence of Korean pop music or K-pop suggests a different narrative, particularly given that its growth was largely unexpected among industry experts. Understanding the key to its international breakthrough can thus produce meaningful lessons for the music industries of other countries for their own further take-off. This constitutes the focus for this paper. Digitization has influenced various sectors of the Korean music industry such as business, society, and consumers. It has also transformed the management focus of the industry from analog to digital, from offline to online, from albums to songs, from specialization to integration, from domestic providers to international suppliers, from audio sound to visual images, from possessing to accessing, and from limited integration to synergistic network. This signifies that embracing technology advancement can enhance the competitiveness of cultural industries.

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