SEOUL/NIIGATA, nhật bản -- NiziU has been creating all the buzz in Japan"s pop culture scene this year, even before its full-fledged debut on Wednesday. The Japanese all-girl group"s meteoric rise to stardom has been driven by the tried-and-true South Korean formula for producing idol groups.

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NiziU is a product of the highly efficient talent development strategy used widely in South Korea, which has cranked out a galaxy of K-pop idol groups, including Bigbang, Girls" Generation and BTS. JYPhường Entertainment, one of the leading South Korean entertainment agencies, selected NiziU members through auditions & trained them in singing, khiêu vũ và other skills required lớn become international pop stars.

The process of selecting and training the members through the survival reality show "Nizi Project" was streamed online, helping to lớn make the group as popular as any other Japanese all-female band even before its debut single was released.

The strategy has been so successful as lớn persuade Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) khổng lồ team up with the South Korean agency for the project. It can serve sầu as a powerful catalyst for change in Japan"s pop music industry.

NiziU has lit up the entertainment scene in these challenging times as the industry was engulfed by the darkness of the coronavirus pandemic.

A NiziU người has her picture taken before life-form size props of group members at a music store in Tokyo on Dec. 1, a day before the group"s debut CD hit the market. © Kyovày

The group has been chosen for advertisements for such major brands as Lawson, Lotte và Coca-Cola, & its group name was nominated for U-Can"s most trendy new word of 20đôi mươi.

NiziU"s pre-debut tuy vậy, released at the kết thúc of June, became an instant hit, with its YouTube music video already viewed more than 170 million times. On Nov. 16, NHK, Japan"s national public broadcaster, announced that the group will perkhung in the "Kohaku Uta Gassen" ("Red & White Song Battle"), the biggest end-of-the-year TV show in nhật bản. It is unprecedented for NHK to include in the event any singer or group whose debut CD has not been released yet.

The series of auditions to lớn select the nine NiziU members, jointly organized by Sony Music Entertainment & JYP Entertainment, were aired by Nippon Television Network and its affiliated local stations, helping expand the group"s bạn base lớn a wide range of generations.

Shunsuke Fujiwara, a 33-year-old in Tokyo, said he got hooked on the group while working from trang chủ. "I was drawn into lớn the coming-of-age story of ordinary girls và their refined, high-chất lượng performance of the K-pop standards." Meanwhile, a 40-something woman in Niigata spoke enthusiastically about how she "felt as if the girls were my daughters" while watching the auditions.

A typical development strategy for a K-pop bvà includes a carefully calculated plan to lớn boost its name recognition before its debut. This strategy has worked well for NiziU. After the process of thành viên selection was streamed khổng lồ attract attention, a catchy pre-debut song was released to create a wave of interest in the group. The tuy nhiên quickly caught on among mỏi junior và senior high school students, prompting many of them lớn learn NiziU dance routines & upload videos of their own NiziU dance performances onto lớn Twitter và TikTok.


The NiziU team has used the "South Korean-style marketing approach, but the kind of coming-of-age story about idols that is popular in nhật bản has also been incorporated inlớn the strategy," said Hidetongươi Tanaka, a professor at Jobu University & an expert on pop star culture. "This combination is something new."

While members of J-pop all-girl groups lượt thích AKB48 & its sister groups have been promoted as idols who need encouragement from fans as they continue their efforts to lớn improve sầu their singing & khiêu vũ skills, the promotional narrative for NiziU is more focused on the story of how girls next door become stars, according khổng lồ Tanaka.

The story about their struggle to lớn grow has been promoted under a meticulous plan mapped out by Park Jin-young, or J.Y. Park, founder of JYP Entertainment.

The teenage members just keep trying to lớn get better as they are inspired and encouraged by Park"s words. "You have sầu skills but need khổng lồ express your personality more clearly," he says. "It is more important for you lớn have sầu one special strong point than to lớn have no weak point." Their moving story of going through thick và thin to realize their collective sầu dream has captured the imagination of fans.

For NiziU, Sony Music Entertainment has adopted the talent development method that has produced many K-pop stars, some of whom have sầu gained huge international popularity.

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BTS during anonline live sầu show in June. The grouphas become a fixture in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts.

The biggest global pop sensation from South Korea is BTS, a seven-thành viên boy band that debuted in 2013. BTS has become a fixture in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts. Its two-day online live sầu concerts in October were watched by a total of 990,000 viewers in 191 countries và regions, ringing up nearly $50 million in fees.

Big Hit Entertainment, the management agency of BTS, made its stochồng market debut in South Korea in October. The company"s sales in 2019 soared 170% from the previous year khổng lồ 587 billion won ($532 million). While its operating profit is around a modest 99 billion won, the newly listed stoông xã surged on the first day, driving up the company"s market value khổng lồ over 11 trillion won. Even though its capitalization fell lớn about 6.5 trillion won as of Dec. 3, the agency still dwarfs its South Korean và Japanese peers in market value. The high valuation reflects investors" expectations for BTS, which earns most of the agency"s revenue.

BTS attracts fans not simply by singing & khiêu vũ well. While wowing a total of 2 million in a 23-city world tour, BTS also offered fans behind-the-scenes glimpses into lớn members" daily lives và training & production sessions. Their willingness khổng lồ show themselves as they really are has helped them build svào emotional ties with fans. The members regularly use social truyền thông media lớn communicate their thoughts and feelings, including anger và frustration, as a way to lớn strike a sympathetic chord in the hearts of fans.


Their key tool for connecting with fans is Weverse, a web service developed by Big Hit Entertainment by fusing the functions of Twitter, Instagram and YouTube into lớn an integrated & dedicated channel for communication with fans. The BTS service, which can be used in 10 languages, had 8 million subscribers as of Nov. 27.

Park Yong-hee, an analyst at IBK Investment và Securities, says Big Hit is no longer a simple talent agency. He defines it as "a platform business based on Weverse." The company will use the money it has raised through its initial public offering khổng lồ enhance its customer services, Park predicts. He lauds the firm"s system for securing recurring fees as a stable revenue source.

Big Hit Entertainment và JYP. Entertainment are two of the four South Korean talent development and management agencies. All have similar systems lớn develop stars in which they accept promising idol wannabes as "trainees," groom them for several years and help them make their debuts.

During their training periods, these wannabes take lessons not only in nhảy và singing but also in such foreign languages as English, Japanese and Chinese.

Once a group is set for its debut, all the members live sầu together to strengthen their sense of unity and solidarity. Typically, an agency invests about $100,000 in each trainee. Developing a single idol group can cost millions of dollars. The costs are shouldered by the agency, which can earn a hefty payoff if a trainee grows inlớn a big star.

Lee Jangwoo, a professor at Kyungpook National University who is well-versed in the history of how K-pop has won global popularity, said the founders of these talent agencies invented & developed systems for the "mass production of idols." Their core competency is management know-how to lớn ensure a steady stream of idols making their debuts, according to lớn Lee.

Harvard Business Review analyzed K-pop"s global success in a case study published in June 20trăng tròn. The study points out an established formula for guiding idols to success. This analysis will be used as a case study for the university"s MBA program, starting in 2021.


The South Korean talent management companies also have sầu clear long-term strategies for global expansion. JYPhường Entertainment, for instance, has a three-stage strategy for expanding its presence across the globe.

In the first stage, the company managed groups composed mostly of South Korean members, lượt thích 2PM. In the second stage, it engineered the success of some multinational groups like Twice, which has South Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese members. NiziU embodies the third stage, which focuses more on groups consisting of only non-Korean members targeted at overseas markets.

Much as consumer goods makers concentrate their management resources on the development of new products, these South Korean talent management agencies make heavy investments in the discovery and development of the next generation of stars.

Already, some new K-pop groups described as the "next BTS" are gaining popularity around the world, including Blackpink and SuperM. The K-pop idol production machine is clearly on a roll.