Covering the Growth of Asian Entertainment in the US

by June 14, 2021
BLACKPINK’S first mini-album, “Square Up.” Photo by Kevinjonah Paguio

The Asian entertainment industry is booming. Americans have developed a love for Asian movies and dramas, as well as popular music. In the process, they are learning more about Asian entertainment culture.

Korean popular culture is skyrocketing. K-Pop is making breakthroughs within the American music market. BTS, a South Korean boy group, is dominating Billboard charts and breaking records. BTS’s “Butter” topped the Hot 100 Songs chart in its second week after debuting. People viewed it over 289.2 million times on streaming platforms.

K-Pop is solidifying its presence within the U.S. According to Gaon Chart, a service that ranks the popularity of Korean songs and albums, the top five K-Pop albums in 2020 sold 10,981,106 physical copies, with a significant portion of sales coming from the U.S.

It’s not just South Korean entertainment. Japanese media, such as manga and anime, have been making headway for years. According to PR Newswire, the Japanese anime market was valued at $24.23 billion in 2020. NPD BookScan, an organization that tracks sales in the publishing market, recorded 3.6 million print manga sales in the first three months of this year. Also, subscription services, such as Netflix and Crunchyroll, team up with Japanese animation studios to provide anime to Americans.

This rise in the consumption of Asian entertainment didn’t happen spontaneously. Several factors contributed to the rise in interest in Asian media. There are a couple of resources that business journalists can utilize when reporting on the Asian entertainment industry within the U.S. and localizing stories for different markets.

One main resource is Billboard. The organization is always up to date on music trends in the United States. It tracks which international artists are making breakthroughs in the American music industry; it has a whole section dedicated to international entertainment. It also provides periodical statistics on how international artists’ music is performing sales wise.

You should also ask around to get information from any sources on social media or in your community. In the modern era, entertainment is readily available to most people. A significant portion of the population is most likely knowledgeable about the consumption of certain types of Asian entertainment. Asking people can also give you a better understanding of what demographic is most impacted by the rise of Asian media, narrowing your target audience. This strategy will help with future projects concerning media, nationally and internationally, if the topic comes up again.

Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence is not enough when covering Asian entertainment. Data and statistics play an important role, too. Hard numbers—albums sold, streams on YouTube, digital downloads—combined with anecdotal stories can create the proper context for understanding this rise in popularity. Reporters should ask sources for their own personal input on their habits within the industry. Why are more people inclined to listen to international music? How do digital sales for international artists today compare to five years ago? Why are physical album sales so strong despite the digitization of music?

Finally, utilize social media. Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and other platforms contain posts where creators can provide a breakdown of the history of Asian entertainment within the U.S. and explain how these forms of media became so popular. Some accounts on social media are even dedicated to explaining Asian entertainment. Utilize them. These platforms become great references for someone newly introduced to the journey of the industry.