The Korea Times


ⓕ font-size

  • -2
  • -1
  • 0
  • +1
  • +2

How did TikTok become main marketing tool for K-pop?

  • Facebook share button
  • Twitter share button
  • Kakao share button
  • Mail share button
  • Link share button
K-pop boy group Treasure / Courtesy of YG Entertainment
K-pop boy group Treasure / Courtesy of YG Entertainment

By Dong Sun-hwa

These days, almost all K-pop singers have their own channels on TikTok, a Chinese video-sharing platform that has some 1 billion monthly active users worldwide.

After rapper Zico's "Any Song" conquered a number of music streaming charts with the help of TikTok in 2019, a wave of other stars have also flocked to this easy-to-use platform.

Just like Zico, they started a "dance challenge" by uploading a short clip featuring some iconic yet easy-to-follow dance movements from their new song. Then, the platform users would imitate the singers' moves in their own ways and share their videos with others, naturally leading the new tune to go viral.

This has helped TikTok become a crucial marketing tool for K-pop acts, many of which even give a taste of their new songs on TikTok prior to their official release, such as girl group STAYC. But this is not the end ― lately, K-pop fans are starting dance challenges on their own, promoting the lesser-known songs by their favorite stars in an unprecedented way.

"Darari," for instance, is an R&B track included in K-pop boy group TREASURE's first EP, "The Second Step: Chapter One," which dropped in February. The 12-piece act did not promote it as actively as its lead single, "Jikjin," but it still made it onto the Billboard Global Excl. U.S. chart, grabbing the No. 135 spot about three weeks after its release. The Billboard Global Excl. U.S. chart ranks different songs based on streaming and/or sales activity from 200 territories around the world excluding the U.S.

It is believed that a TikTok video of "Darari" ― created by an Indonesian user who choreographed the song using simple gestures ― played a key role in promoting the tune. "Darari" recorded 730,000 streams on TikTok, and clips with the hashtag "dararichallenge" have hit 500 million views. This prompted TREASURE's record label YG Entertainment to release an official video featuring the members' performance of the song.

K-pop act Enhypen / Courtesy of Belift Lab
K-pop act Enhypen / Courtesy of Belift Lab

Another TikTok hit is "Polaroid Love" by K-pop boy group Enhypen, which hit shelves in January. The feel-good song is part of the seven-piece act's first studio album "Dimension: Answer," and just like "Darari," it went viral on TikTok after an international fan kicked off a dance challenge. Now, it is reportedly the soundtrack to over 610,000 videos on TikTok.

According to TikTok, the total number of K-pop videos on the platform exceeded 97 million as of last September, nearly tripling from 33 million in 2019. TikTok explained that more than 92 percent of the videos were created in countries other than Korea.

"We believe that more K-pop lovers, especially international fans, will make their own K-pop-related content and contribute to the success of different songs in the days to come," a TikTok official said. "These days, a lot of K-pop singers belatedly join the challenge after it becomes popular."

Major music streaming platforms in Korea are also utilizing the data from TikTok to measure the popularity of different songs. Last month, Melon launched a new chart titled "TikTok Weekly Chart 30" to rank songs based on their performance on TikTok. Gaon Chart, which is organized by the Korea Music Content Association (KMCA), also reflects TikTok data in its Gaon Social Chart 2.0.

Dong Sun-hwa

Top 10 Stories

go top LETTER