PSY's 'Gangnam Style' ushered in the streaming revolution a decade ago

PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ ushered in the streaming revolution a decade ago

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MUSIC – A decade later, our brain has not forgotten its catchy chorus. The song Gangnam Style by South Korean rapper PSY is already celebrating its tenth anniversary. Few anticipated the scale and speed of her success, and how she would help usher in the streaming revolution.

When it was released on July 15, 2012, its hilarious music video mocked Seoul’s wealthy Gangnam district, reaching the world within weeks. The song reached one billion views on YouTube in just six months.

His signature ‘horse-riding’ dance has spawned a slew of parodies and emulators: on prime-time television in the United States, in an English football stadium and even in the White House. Then-US President Barack Obama said his daughters taught him “a really good Gangnam Style”.

The power of online platforms and social networks

The title demonstrated to the music industry the power of influence of online platforms and social networks, especially for non-Western artists who do not perform in English. “Traditional marketing and advertising manuals have been thrown out the window,” said Bernie Cho, president of Seoul-based creative agency DFSB and an expert on the South Korean music industry.

In 2012, the streaming industry was still in its infancy, providing less than 7% of music revenue worldwide, according to music industry federation IFPI. But the incredible success of Gangnam Style helped pave the way for artists all over the world to not only release their music but also earn online ad revenue and get called up for gigs.

Ten years later, streaming is the main source of revenue for the global music industry -65% in 2021, according to IFPI- with content available online via subscription services, YouTube and or short video apps. like TikTok.

Most watched video record

A few months after its release, Gangnam Style had reached the record for the most watched video on YouTube, a place it kept for more than three years. As of June 21, 2022, it has been viewed over 4.5 billion times.

The buzz generated by Gangnam Style and viral phenomena such as “Harlem Shake” prompted Billboard in 2013 to transform the way it does its rankings, adding streams on YouTube and other platforms to traditional record sales and radio stream numbers.

Most Gangnam Style also rocked South Korea, overnight becoming the country’s biggest cultural export and a source of national pride: K-pop groups that had tried to break international before 2012 had regional success in Asia, without succeeding in imposing itself on the lucrative Western markets such as the United States.

PSY “proved to everyone that instead of a Korean version of a western or international pop star, what the world wanted was something very authentic, original, unique”, says Bernie Cho.

See also on Le HuffPost: At the BTS concert in South Korea, the audience was not allowed to sing

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