Korean rap, also known as K-hip-hop (Korean hip-hop), has enjoyed a spectacular rise on the Korean music scene, winning fans across the country with its unique blend of hard-hitting rhythms and poignant lyrics. It represents a dynamic and influential musical subculture in the country. As the genre flourishes in Korea, artists are looking to extend their influence to new horizons, and France is emerging as a key market. In this article, we will use the term “French music market” to refer to three French-speaking markets (here France, Belgium and Switzerland).
Rap, the dominant genre in France
In the French music scene, rap and other “urban music” (R&B, trap, drill, etc.) are the most prominent music genres topping the charts with artists of the likes of Jul, Dadju, Ninho or Aya Nakamura. As we can see on the French Youtube charts, French and foreign urban artists dominate the charts and represent the latest music trends. At this rate, French ranked third in a survey showing where different music genres were the most listened to in digital formats. According to a survey conducted by Ifop (2018), 69% of people under 30’s enjoy rap. What this survey conducted by 1,700 young people aged 14–35 confirms is: when asked « what do you prefer about rap? », 70% of respondents by Tsugi and Super! answer « the instrumental », 39% the general mood of the title and only 35% the punchlines. It appears that music is preferred over language. Besides, on Apple Music, more than 80% of the playlist called “Les meilleures titres de 2023 : France” is composed of rappers. Rap and its subgenres are the most preferred and listened to music in France.
© HIGHER MUSIC
The place of K-Rap in France
Korean rap has already caught the attention of French music enthusiasts. Many bloggers and websites have written articles introducing the Korean hip hop scene. In fact, many South Korean rappers have already toured in France and some of them have been sold out. For example, Sik-K sold out two dates in Trabendo in Paris in 2019. Other Korean hip hop acts did concerts in France such as Loopy, DPR or Jay Park.
Past Korean rap concerts in France :
- Sik-K – Salle Pleyel (capacity 2800) le 28 janvier 2023 – Sold out
- Yugyeom – Le Bataclan (capacity 1500) le 1er novembre 2023
- Gemini – Le Bataclan (capacity 1500) le 1er décembre 2023
- Jjangyou & Kid Milli & Yang Hong Won – La Bellevilloise (capacity 1490 / sold 400) le 19 juin 2023
- PH-1 – Le Bataclan (capacity 1500) le 5 avril 2023
- Groovyroom, Dawn, Gemini, Mirani et Blase – Le Bataclan (capacity 1500) le 3 mars 2023
- Loopy – La Bellevilloise (capacity 1490 / sold 150) le 3 décembre 2022
What we can conclude from the above is that there is an obvious demand from French people to see K-hip hop artists perform live. The example of Sik-K’s sold out concert is a good one. Many of them have come to France and included at least one date in France in their European or World Tour. France is certainly an important stop for them in their tour. However, we do notice that compared to the seat available for purchase there is still room for improvement. The ratio between the tickets available and the ones sold is still not optimum.
Rap music and its place amongst French-speaking countries
The French rap market does not limit itself in France, it also includes Belgium and Switzerland. Nowadays, Belgium produces some of the hottest French speaking rap artists. Urban music, just like in France, tops the Belgian charts with the likes of Favé, Keblack or Heuss l’Enfoiré. On Apple Music, in the playlist called “Les meilleures titres de 2023 : Belgique” we can find rappers (Hamza, Damso) and also Korean artists (NewJeans, FIFTY FIFTY). Switzerland also follows this tendency and urban artists such as GIMS or Morad top the charts. Korean hip hop artists have also toured in Belgium like B.I and Sik-K. Therefore, this market shares similarities with the French market.
The influence of foreign music on French music markets, opening doors to a potential growth of Korean music consumption
French listeners are familiar with K-pop and already consume this music. K-pop, or Korean popular music, is a genre originating from South Korea encompassing a variety of music genres. BTS and Blackpink are one of the big names of K-pop. Considering this fanbase, introducing Korean rap to them could really open the door of the French music markets for South Korean hip hop artists. Indeed, France ranked 10th out of 184 countries who listen the most to Korean music on Spotify. Moreover, France ranked 1st in Europe for Kpop music consumption with 634 millions views on Youtube according to spaceoddity(2022). This clearly shows that France already consumes a lot of Korean music.
Some successful collaborations between French and foreign artists :
- Lacrim feat French Montana – A.W.A (180M views on Youtube)
- Kaaris feat Future – Crystal (21M views on Youtube)
- Aya Nakamura feat Stormzy – Plus jamais (40M views on Youtube)
- Central Cee feat Rondodasosa, Baby Gang, A2Anti, Morad, Beny Jr, Ashe 22, Freeze Corleone – Eurovision (60M views on Youtube)
- Freeze Corleone 667 feat Central Cee – Polémique (29M views on Youtube)
As we can see with the above numbers, French artists collaborating with foreign artists can end up creating a good recipe as the number of views vary from 21M to 180M. Furthermore, what we can draw from this interpretation is that language is definitely no longer a barrier from the French listeners. Music and the reputation of the artists take precedence over the language, which is clearly what K-rap needs to penetrate the French music scenes.
Thus, French listeners are both rap music enthusiasts and K-pop lovers. With these two significant pieces of data in mind, Korean urban music should find its place inside the French music market.
Digital marketing: the solution for penetrating the French music market ?
At this stage, it is legitimate to ask the following question: which means should be mobilized to penetrate the market? Digital marketing offers many advantages over traditional methods and has become an essential element of modern marketing strategies. Penetrating the French music market for Korean rap could be facilitated by the implementation of various digital levers.
Indeed, these profitable tactics in the music sector can be essential for increasing visibility, expanding the fan base and generating revenue for artists. Paid digital offers several advantages compared to non-digital (traditional) marketing campaigns. It allows you to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors, ensuring that your message reaches the most relevant audience. This level of precision is often challenging to achieve with traditional methods. Digital marketing provides robust analytics tools that allow you to track the performance of your campaigns in real-time. You can measure metrics such as clicks, impressions, conversions, and ROI, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Digital marketing is more cost-effective as you can set budgets and bid amounts, and you only pay when users engage with your ads.
As we saw earlier, one of the goals of Korean rappers is to reach a wider audience and paid digital can help them reach this goal. It enables artists to reach a global audience. With online advertising, their message can be seen by people around the world, breaking down geographical barriers and expanding their market reach. Digital campaigns are highly flexible and can be adjusted in real-time based on performance data. This adaptability allows artists to refine their strategies quickly, optimizing for what works and adjusting to changing market conditions.
In conclusion, paid digital offers an accessible and powerful platform for promoting Korean rap in France. By investing in these platforms, Korean artists can overcome geographical and cultural barriers, reaching a wider and more diverse audience at a reduced cost.