A year of noticing Notes on K-pop

A look back at the first year of this newsletter

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It’s been a bit over a year since my first Note arrived on November 7, 2022, featuring an intro to this newsletter, and some musings on K-pop’s Third Space.

Since then, I’ve attempted to regularly engage with trending topics of the day, talk about some musical facets of K-pop that have intrigued me, talked to artists, and just generally do things here that I couldn’t do at other outlets. It’s the first time I felt like I’ve really shared my opinions about things, unfiltered through the spectrum of editors or producers with their own agendas, and I’m very grateful that some people seem to think these perspectives of mine are worthwhile.

As of November 21, 2023, Notes on K-pop has 747 subscribers and 55 published posts. I was hoping to get to 1,000 subscribers in the first year, so I'm a bit below my goal, but still extraordinarily pleased (and slightly terrified!) that so many people are finding value here.

To be honest, I don’t think I successfully achieved one article a week as I hoped. But I ended up evening out with about 1 post per week throughout the first year, so I’m pleased on that front.

Regarding the content, it became a sort of playground on my part, to try out things that nobody else would publish and/or editors weren’t receptive too in the current state of journalism.

This year has not necessarily been a great one for me professionally or personally, but I’m very pleased that I’ve at least accomplished this newsletter, and am so grateful for you all to share this with me this first year.

Song Review: Red Velvet – Birthday | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews &  Discussion
So many Birthday songs to choose from for header pics

I didn’t really expect to make this a place to talk about recurring themes, like contract disputes, the future of K-pop in the face of globalization/glocalization/westernization/etc., and the ramifications of the battle for the control of SM Entertainment, but it was good to have a venue to relay what was happening in real-time. Hopefully, you all feel the same way.

The thing I most enjoyed launching - although I’m not sure if it really went as successfully as I wanted it to throughout the few I shared this year and that’s something I’ll be working on next year - was the 5-minute focus audio interviews series with artists and insiders. I launched it with Moonbin & Sanha of Astro, who very thoughtfully shared their thoughts on the prompts I sent them. It later became a bittersweet memorial following Moonbin’s passing, which is a terribly bittersweet coincidence.

Coincidences seem to have become a bit of the norm for Notes on K-pop’s interviews: I published an interview with Fifty Fifty the day Cupid broke onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This, of course, came before all the drama later this year, which resulted in Fifty Fifty now being a single person and the other three members getting absolutely nothing despite in compensation after having one of the undeniable hits of the year.

Unsurprisingly, both those interviews were among the most-read pieces, though the winner of the first year of Notes on K-pop was my exploration of some contract debates. In retrospect, I should have wrote about Fifty Fifty in this too, but theirs has been a longer, messier situation, and I may be doing a few things about it before the end of the year but TBD.

Other popular stories:

Getting into entertainment journalism, K-pop edition

Korea's ticketing model should be taken into consideration for the US live music market

Remembering Moonbin

K-pop stars are setting their own terms regarding the second stage of their careers

What in the world is happening with the K-pop concert market in the US

The reports of K-pop's fifth generation arrival are greatly exaggerated

Challenging Bias

Is there really more English being used in K-pop than their used to be?

Who is KCON USA For nowadays?

As for the next year, I have some ideas and plans to make this a more cohesive, industry-analysis place, but because I’m terrible at planning I won’t promise you anything!

But if there’s anything you’d like to see, please leave a comment and/or respond to this poll.

Thank you for reading and supporting my work all this while. I hope I continue to be a voice and source you can turn to this next year, and for many more.