The global record industry has had to put up with major losses of revenue ever since internet users started to get their music through the world-wide-web. Among the worst hit has been the Asian music market, where piracy has pushed the CD market nearly to the point of collapse. But JYP Entertainment, a Korean record company, has managed to grow steadily for the last ten years. Park Jin-Young, also known as JYP, is the man behind this.
With file sharing becoming popular, music CDs have become redundant
JY Park has many talents. He is a dancer, a singer and a songwriter. But above all he is one of Asia’s most successful record producers. And he is also producing for big U.S. stars such as Will Smith. As digital downloads have started to restructure the record business, JY Park has not only regarded it as a threat but also as a chance.
“How cassette tapes disappeared, how vinyl records disappeared -- same thing the CD will disappear,” he says.
“Record companies insisted on selling CDs when all the customers wanted to buy one song digitally from the internet. When file sharing programmes came out, we ended up losing 90 percent of the CD market. So basically CDs were gone. We had to accept the change, that’s why we sell our music on a digital platform.”
Training young talents
The digital market makes only 50 percent of the company’s revenue. It includes mobile ringtones, internet downloads and streaming. Another 50 percent comes from advertisements, endorsements, and merchandising from movies and the TV shows of his artists. It is the so-called 360-model which more and more other record companies are adapting.
With it, JY Park has also changed the way he promotes his artists.
“When everything was turning digital I decided to concentrate on the human being. So in 2001 I said, from today we don’t make music, we make stars. Since then we started our academy to train kids. We pick ten kids a year and those ten kids go to our academy called JYP academy. They get trained for minimum four to seven years. They also learn at least two languages, dancing, singing, acting etc.”
But developing stars and promoting them afterwards is not a new concept. JY Park himself got the idea from another big name of the record industry.
“I actually got this model from Mo-town. I saw how Barry Gordy was training all his artists. It is very ironic that I have learned it from America, but American companies have stopped doing it,” JY Park adds.
Most of the JYP academy’s students won’t get a record deal. Therefore the academy also looks beyond a future career and makes sure their students get a proper education.
“Only 20 percent of academy ends up debuting. 80 percent go back to normal life. Our backup plan is, we check their school grades. If your school grade goes under B, you can’t come to the academy.”
One group who have emerged from the academy as stars is the girl group “Wondergirls”. The five girls from South Korea have had years of hard training. They are fluent in three languages Korean, Mandarin Chinese and English.
The girl group has been tremendously successful across Asia having several number one hits. They will get their own TV show in the United States later in the year.
JY Park is convinced that his artists are well prepared for the global market – and that the global market is ready for Asian stars.