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Posted : 2011-04-14 19:22
Updated : 2011-04-14 19:22

Psy, Brule discuss K-pops failure in US


PSY
By Chung Min-uck

The language barrier is preventing Korean singers from breaking into the American market, claims Korean hip-hop artist PSY. And Tyler Brule, publisher and editor of Monocle magazine, would rather see Korean stars knock on the doors of Europe first.

Psy and Brule were among the speakers invited to the latest “Super Talk” conference in Seoul Tuesday. The semi-regular event organized by Hyundai Card is promoted as a platform for trendsetters in society, culture and business to share ideas and communicate with the public.

Asked why Korean singers and pop groups, such as the Wonder Girls are finding audiences across Asia but failing to extend that success in the United States, PSY suggested that inept language skills may have something to do with it.


Tyler Brule
“Any form of popular art needs emotional unity in order to connect with the public, but the verbal issue is a problem for Korean singers. Though some singers can speak English, not many of them have the fluency and emotional understanding that will allow them to reach deeply into the hearts of American music lovers,” he said on the sidelines of the conference, shortly after delivering his presentation.

Psy, who has a massive following here for his witty rap lyrics and unique concerts, admitted that the language barrier is also the reason why he has been hesitant about trying to break onto the U.S. scene.

“I personally think that my competiveness as a musician comes from the twists that I put on my lyrics. But these twists can’t be transmitted to an audience in a different environment when you don’t have a complete understanding of their language and emotions,” he said,

The Asian love-affair for Korean pop music has local entertainment agencies like SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment following the money. All three companies reported record revenue last year — a combined 150 billion won (about $138 million).

However, the companies have been struggling to find a market for their artists in the U.S. The JYPE-managed Wonder Girls managed to enter the Billboard Top-100 rankings with their U.S. debut song in 2009, but have lapsed into anonymity since. JYPE’s U.S. subsidiary reported a loss of 3.6 billion won last year, following a 4 billon won loss in 2009.

Brule spoke highly of the marketability of Korean pop groups like SME-managed Girls’ Generation, but questioned why Korean attempts to go global only have to go through the U.S. He said that while Korean entertainment companies and their artists have shown an ability to attract instant attention, luring a crowd to actually buy their music poses a different challenge.

“On one side it’s big internationally, but I think it’s sort of like a YouTube phenomenon. I think Korean record companies should encourage them (the people who are watching K-pop stars through YouTube) to buy their music. The contemporary Korean mind-set is ‘Oh, let’s go to America!’ But it’s not easy to go to America,” Brule said.

When asked about the key for making it in the U.S., Brule suggested that success in other regions such as Europe or Australia could pave the way.

“It’s better for the Wonder Girls to first go to Europe. Breaking into another part of the world, break into the U.K. first, break into Australia first, breaking into English-language markets would be much easier than trying to tackle the (U.S.) market,” he said.

“Even big stars like Kylie Minogue have not broken into the United States.”

The writer is a Korea Times intern.



한국가수들 미국진출 실패한 이유

한국을 대표하는 랩가수 싸이가 언어적 한계를 들어 한국 가수들의 미국진출 실패원인을 지적했다. 또 세계적인 잡지 모노클의 편집장인 타일러 브륄레는 한국 가수들에게 유럽시장에 먼저 진출하라고 충고의 말을 건넸다.

이 둘은 화요일 현대카드가 주최한 슈퍼토크2에 초대받아 “breaking the trend, making the trend”를 주제로 강연을 했다.

싸이는 왜 원더걸스와 같은 한국의 톱 가수들이 아시아시장과 달리 미국시장에서는 번번이 실패하는 지에 대해 언어적 한계가 있음을 지적했다.
30분간 이어진 강연을 마친 후 참석자들과 어우러지는 자리에서 그는 다음과 같이 말했다.

“분명한 것은 대중예술이라는 것이 대중에게 호응을 얻으려면 정서적으로 공감대가 형성이 되어야 한다고 보거든요. 결국은 버벌(verbal, 언어)에 관한 문제겠죠. 영어를 할 줄 안다고 해도, 그게 정서 깊숙이 들어갈 수 있는 영어는 아니거든요.”

위트 있는 가사와 독특한 말재주를 자랑하는 싸이는 자신도 같은 이유로 미국진출이 망설여진다고 밝혔다. 자신의 장점이 말에 “트위스트”를 주는 것인데 이것을 영어로 할 경우 잘 전달 되지가 않는다는 것이다.

국내 3대 기획사인 SM엔터테인먼트(이하 SME), YG엔터테인먼트(이하 YGE)와 JYP엔터테인먼트(이하 JYPE)의 지난해 매출은 1500억 원을 넘어섰다.

그러나 미국시장에 국한시켜 보면 얘기가 달라진다.

2009년 JYPE 소속가수인 원더걸스는 빌보드 탑 100에 진입하며 화제를 모았으나, JYPE의 미국법인에서는 그 해 40억 원의 손실을 기록했으며, 2010년에도 36억 원의 적자를 냈다.

타일러 브륄레는 한국가요의 시장성에 대해서는 인정했으나 왜 한국가수들이 그토록 미국시장에 집착하는지에 대해서는 의문을 가졌다.

현재 한국의 사고방식은 조금만 성공해도 미국시장진출을 꿈꾼다는 것이다. 그러나 그는 미국시장이 그렇게 간단한 시장이 아니라고 말한다.

한국가수들이 미국시장에서 성공할 수 있는 방법에 대해 묻자 그는 다음과 같이 말했다.

“원더걸스는 먼저 유럽시장에 가는 것이 나을 것이다. 우선 다른 지역 즉 영국이나 호주와 같은 영어권 시장을 뚫는 것이 미국시장에 진출하는 것 보다 쉬울 것이다. 카일리 미노그도 미국시장을 뚫지 못하고 말았지 않은가.”

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