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TV Music Rankings is the Answer? 'A Big Mistake'

By Staff Writer | March 26, 2013 03:52 PM EDT


SBS has returned its ranking system on "Inkigayo" last week. Brought back to offer a fresh breath of air to the slumping music industry, issues with fairness and the criticism that is a simple popularity contest have not disappeared.

MBC's "Music Core" has also announced that it will bring back the ranking system this April after scrapping it in 2006. It is their solution to the low TV ratings that are hovering around 3-4%. But none of the fundamental problems, such as Idol-centric programming, have been resolved and the shows seem to be headed right back to the hole they were in when ranking systems were discontinued.

The show goes on...despite low ratings. Why?

Let's look into the root of the problem. The biggest reason behind their low ratings is the loss of interest from the twenty-something's as the music shows have become only about idol artists.

The most basic problem with the shows is that they all look the same. From Mnet "M-Countdown", "KBS "Music Bank", MBC "Music Core" to SBS's "Inkigayo," similar artists and performances are featured over and over again. SBS's "Pop Music" seems to be making changes as it featured an indie band, Pepper Tones, last week but, as of yet, it is only a drop in the ocean of idol artist performances.

In reality, music shows are high-cost, high-risk, low-return. Despite tremendous resources that gointo putting stages together, fairness issues with vote counts, potential dangers of live showings, TV networks cannot do away with music shows because they are highly inter connected with other variety shows. For artists, music shows are often a stepping stone to other TV shows. For record labels, musicshows serve as advertising tools. And for the networks, music shows produce idol stars who go on toother TV shows within their network.

Perhaps due to the interests of the industry, variety shows are usually the last to go despite low TVratings. And unfortunately, true musicians, who are unlikely candidates for variety shows, are neglectedand kept away from the spotlight.

With fairness in doubt, ranking systems jeopardize K-pop as a whole

Low ratings are up to the network to solve on their own. It is my understanding that reviving ranking systems identical to those of previous years is not going to help the music industry.

One suggestion is to have a ranking system without text votes. In order to retain any level of credibility and objectivity, rankings that solely depend on fandom need to stop. Averaging statistics from five mainstream music websites seems to be a good alternative.

Maintaining Sub-categorical charts and unique programming will definitely provide excitement to theshows. For example, conducting surveys like "favorite song in the spring" and releasing their resultscould offer something that all generations can participate in and relate to. Asahi TV's "Music Station" in Japan does exactly that.

"Music Station," which started in 1986, updates single chart records, album rankings and mobile chartsbased on Oricon Charts. Big-name idols from SM-equivalent Johnnys are featured, of course, but manyother artists who represent diverse genres share the spotlight. In addition, footages of new artists andindie bands are introduced in order to bring something new to the public. Such efforts to connect the best musicians with the public are something to be learned from.

It has been reported that record labels have been making calls to viral marketing companies following the announcement that "Pop Music" will bring back the ranking system. Their requests were to "makeus get a lot of hits via Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social networks." With the return of the ranking system, we may be faced with the return of viral marketing strategies that encourage text votes.

We have seen the rise of K-pop and its extensive benefits in recent years. But we may standing on shaky grounds as long as the basis of our own music charts are on ill-advised systems. South Korea, withconcerts not as prevalent as other music hub countries, swings easily by TV music shows. As much as it does, self-reflection from TV networks and smart judgment from the public are needed. 

Tagged :  K-Pop, SBS, Inkigayo, Mnet, M Countdown, KBS, Music Bank, MBC, Music Core


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