Few people in the United States know more about the Korean music scene than Jeff Benjamin, a K-Pop journalist with over a decade in the industry. Recently, Benjamin indulged K-Pop fans with an AMA (“Ask Me Anything” Q&A thread) on Reddit, and one secret he revealed is what’s to come for K-Pop in the U.S. in 2021.
During the AMA, Jeff Benjamin explained that he frequently gets advance knowledge of new releases in K-Pop, whether from agencies or distributors. As such, he’s perfectly positioned to know what to expect from the Korean music scene this year. While most of what he knows needs to be kept secret until it’s revealed to the public, Benjamin was gracious enough to oblige a fan who asked what “inside knowledge” he could share for the upcoming year.
Alongside dropping hints that one boy group soloist is schedules to make a long-awaited solo comeback in March, Jeff Benjamin honed in on something numerous fans around the world are anticipating: more recognition for K-Pop overseas, particularly in the U.S.
Up until now, it’s been relatively difficult for K-Pop acts to break new ground in the U.S. because of the need for an American label and specific media distribution strategies. However, in the wake of groups like BTS and BLACKPINK smashing the Billboard charts, it looks like all that is about to change.
I think we’re going to see more artists have more opportunities on the label and media side in the U.S. soon in 2021.
— Jeff Benjamin
Benjamin revealed that there are several “exciting ventures” in development, but one in particular is going to be very beneficial to artists from smaller agencies. While he couldn’t elaborate too much, he did explain that this new venture will create resources that allow artists from smaller agencies to get U.S. distribution, better media opportunities, and more.
This means that some of your favorite non-Big 4 acts could soon get their albums into major U.S. stores like Target and receive more interviews and televised appearances across the pond. In recent years, such promotions have been reserved for bigger agencies with more leverage and more connections. This new venture seeks to even the playing field, giving artists who aren’t from major agencies “more of those fair chances“.
While Jeff Benjamin did say it’s “too soon to say” just how those opportunities will manifest this year, he likes what’s in the works so far with “this sort of K-pop/hyphen label hybrid venture“. Which artists do you want to see make their U.S. debut in 2021?