Platformization in Local Cultural Production: Korean Platform Companies and the K-Pop Industry
This article examines the dynamics of platformization in the ongoing expansion of two leading platform companies in Korea (hereafter Korea) into Korean popular music (K-pop) production and the major K-pop labels’ responses trailing this expansion. Our analysis indicates that NAVER and Kakao see K-pop production penetrating the global market and providing a continuously growing new revenue source. In contrast, K-pop labels see platforms as an avenue to expand the small Korean market by developing new markets abroad. This article reveals how the capital strength and technological advantages Kakao and NAVER enjoy in the ongoing platformization of K-pop production threaten the creative independence of K-pop producers. Finally, we examine how the increasing dominance of the two platforms in production and distribution has affected the K-pop industry and suggest how K-pop creators may push back.