Bigger isn’t always better. While many K-pop acts (and their management) have chosen to do high-profile promotions in the United States, I think they should also use familiar methods that have already proven successful in other countries.
Some K-pop acts have appeared on mainstream American media and held concerts in sizable venues. As part of his trek through the American media, Psy appeared on several television shows, including The Today Show and Ellen. This summer, 2NE1 performed before 7,000 fans at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Fans are eagerly anticipating BigBang shows at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Los Angeles.
These large-scale efforts have been successful, but Korean agencies can also use some of their own tried and true methods of promotion as well. When some artists promote in Japan, they stay there for months. TVXQ was gone so long doing promotions this year that I nearly forgot what Yunho looks like. Has Supernova ever returned from Japan? Korean agencies should bring their experiences with long-term promotions to the United States. Just leave your idols here with us for a few months, and everything will be fine!
If agencies are going to seriously promote in the United states, they need to understand the geography. Compared to Korea, the United States is huge. It is about 97 times bigger than South Korea in terms of total area!
In addition to a large area, the population in the United States is largely clustered in the eastern part of the country, with some large populations on the west coast. Instead of just focusing on large cities, agencies can take advantage of the regional nature of the country. Agencies could plan several smaller-scale events in one of several tri-state areas, like New Jersey/New York/Connecticut, Illinois/Indian/Wisconsin or Maryland/The Virginias/DC. Many fans find it difficult to fly to a coast, but could take a bus or a train a few hours away for an event. And don’t forget the Mid-west. They need some love.
So, if K-pop artists and groups are going to be here for a while, they need something to do other than perform. Agencies are already very good at putting on other types of promotional events, like signings and fanmeets! Jay Park met fans at a Verizon store at the mall in San Francisco as part of his promotions. Hey, if I have to go the mall and get some socks, I would have no problem standing in a line to high-five some guys in ZE:A, play some games with Hyesung of Shinhwa and hear a song or two from BEAST. In fact, the mall was the stop for American pop stars in the 1980s.
In addition to fan promotions, agencies can film artists as part of a behind-the-scenes reality show! Anyone who has scoured YouTube looking for K-pop footage knows that nothing is more entertaining that watching a K-pop group go on a mission! As groups make their way across the country performing in smaller venues and doing fanmeets, a film crew can record their every move. Agencies could have members go on missions in various cities. If agencies are worried about the language barrier, they can have them do missions in areas with large Korean populations found in northern Virginia, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado and Illinois.
When idols aren’t off doing wacky missions, they could be visiting K-pop fans who have some kind of podcast or vlog. Imagine! Who wouldn’t want to interview Tablo or Kim Hyun Joong for YouTube? Since social media has been central to the international spread of K-pop, it makes sense to use it instead of more mainstream media outlets. Heck, agencies could start their own channels just for this purpose.
These are just some humble suggestions, but Korean agencies should understand that K-pop is a subculture in the United States. There is no shame in that; subcultures can be quite financially successful. Just look at the various conventions for fans of science fiction. Korean agencies should embrace the subculture status of K-pop in the United States and work it to their (and the fans’ advantage). This could totally work! All I ask from the agencies is that they make sure my favorite groups stop by my city when they enact my plan. Good luck!