Psy's success heralds paradigm shift in music industry
Korean pop sensation Psy's rise to the top of YouTube's all-time list of most-viewed videos is "a symbolic event" indicating an imminent paradigm shift in the world music industry, analysts said Saturday.
The video of Psy's hit single "Gangnam Style" topped the list with 803.69 million hits, bumping Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber's "Baby" which garnered 803.65 million views, according to YouTube data, updated Saturday evening (Korean time).
The singer-rapper, whose given name is Park Jae-sang, rocketed to global fame after the video went viral online with his signature horse-riding dance. Boosted by the popularity of the video, the song has topped charts from 30 countries, including Britain, and had occupied the No. 2 slot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for seven straight weeks before going down to 7th place on Thursday.
"Psy is the first singer to conquer the world music market based on YouTube and social networking services," said a local pop music critic known as Kim Jak-ga.
"His success is a symbolic event heralding the end of the present paradigm of the music industry that has been in place for more than a hundred years and the age of old media," Kim stressed.
Behind the success of "Gangnam Style," which Psy himself has described as "so unreal," was the world music industry's increasing dependence on digital media, he said.
Currently, becoming a star requires frequent exposure on popular TV and radio programs with full support from his or her entertainment agency. To earn foreign fans, K-pop artists had to go abroad first, releasing foreign-language albums and staging concerts.
Psy, whose popularity was only domestic before, however, became a global sensation without any extra effort as the free music video of the track was a big hit on YouTube.
Twitter and other SNS services also played a decisive role in boosting Psy's overseas popularity.
U.S. hip-hop artist T-Pain, singer-songwriter Josh Groban and British artist Robbie Williams posted Psy's video on their SNS pages, guiding more YouTube users and a number of major U.S. news media such as CNN, NBC and weekly magazine TIME to pay attention to him.
Industry experts say that making content available to anyone to enjoy, share and create parodies and responding quickly to users' needs was key to the success of rising global star Psy.
John Hirai, head of music at YouTube's Korea-Japan branch, said the singer's decision to profit from commercials attached to each parody video, instead of choosing to block them, helped spawn many such parodies, which again contributed to attracting more viewers to the original video.
Psy then speedily uploaded on his official channel a sequel video, the making of his music video and interviews for users wanting to see and know more about him and "Gangnam Style," the YouTube official noted.
"It comes like a total package at the end, so it just generated views," Hirai said during a music conference in Seoul earlier this month.
In these ways, "Gangnam Style" became a song that dominated the world market in just a little more than four months, a method which is surely different from the conventional market method of distributing and promoting albums.
The infectious track has been gaining in sales on iTunes and other paid music services due to the popularity of its video.
As "Gangnam Style" has intoxicated music fans around the world with its humor, funky beat and comical and easy-to-follow dance moves, the Psy syndrome shows that becoming a star in the Internet age is less about money than outstanding content. (Yonhap)