Soompi has been bringing K-Pop to the masses online since 1998, but there is a new crop of television networks that are trying do the same, to a TV near you. There are currently two players in the market, MYX TV and Mnet America, both trying to be the voice for Asian American pop culture, which includes both Asian and American pop music, anime, films, etc. The biggest difference between these channels and the traditional ethnic channels many of our parents watch is that everything is in English and aimed not only at Asians, but anyone and everyone who appreciates the Asian/Asian American point of view, in whatever artistic form it’s expressed.
Let’s start with MYX TV, launched in 2007, whose parent company is the #1 music channel in the Philippines. They have a variety of programming including anime, classic kung fu movies, and original shows following current events and pop culture, among others. Currently, you can say that they dabble in K-Pop, mixing in Big Bang with J-Pop, Filipino Pop, and more, though they plan on expanding their K-Pop repertoire. Soompi recently partnered with MYX to produce a segment called Soompi Top 10, counting down the week’s Top 10 songs, as well as the “Soompier’s Pick” as voted by our members.
Mnet America is the new kid on the block, having launched just this past year. Soompi readers will be familiar with its Korean counterpart, essentially the “MTV” of Korea, which produces such popular shows as M! Countdown, Superstar K, and a slew of idol-centric reality shows, including 2NE1 TV, the world premiere of which will be shown on Mnet America on July 17th. They too have a mixture of programming, though they are understandably more heavy on Korean content (music and dramas), as well as anime, J-Pop shows, and a series featuring short films by Asian Americans.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Mnet’s acting CEO, Adam Ware, who gave us the exclusive scoop on some upcoming programming that should make fans of K-Pop very happy.
The first is a daily three-hour K-Pop music video show, aimed for an August premiere. It will include Skype interviews with artists in Korea, in-person interviews with those visiting LA, and music video world premieres. The thought behind the show is that K-Pop will never “make it” in America until it’s played on the radio – not Korean language radio stations – but mainstream radio play. Now that there are more groups with members speaking English, as well as collaborations with American artists, it’s an idea that’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Mnet wants to become what MTV was for UK bands in the 80’s, breaking in groups like U2, Culture Club, and the likes. These are bands that had previously gotten little to no airplay on the radio stateside, but thanks to MTV showing their music videos, they quickly became part of the American pop culture.
Note to those in the LA area: Mnet is currently auditioning VJ’s to host the show, so if you can work the camera and love K-Pop, this could be a match made in heaven.
The second show in preproduction is tentatively called M! Countdown All Access, meant to be a companion show to the hugely popular M! Countdown. The problem with simply airing M! Countdown with subtitles is that by the time they are able to get a copy of the show, add subtitles, and re-edit it to fit US commercial break standards, everyone who cares will have already watched it on Soompi, YouTube, or other blogs. The solution? Instead of just re-airing an outdated show, they decided to create the “ultimate fan experience” by going behind the scenes at M! Countdown and interviewing artists before/after they go on stage, hang out with them in the green room, chat with the winners, and most importantly, all in English! It will be the first co-production between Mnet Korea & America, and if they can manage to pull it off (well), it will be a major win for English speaking K-Pop fans worldwide.
Exciting, right? I’m curious to see how it all pans out as these two stations fight for our right to have an identity that can both infiltrate and co-exist with the mainstream. MYX and Mnet are currently available in limited areas, mostly on the two coasts via cable and satellite, but are working hard to bring Asian pop culture across the country and beyond. Check out their sites to see if you get these channels.
A special shout out to Friend of Soompi Paul “PK” Kim, who’s hosting BPM (Beats Per Mnet), a daily show highlighting what’s going on in Asian Pop culture. You’ll remember him from our very first video interview with Boa back in 2008.
My apologies for referencing a Miley Cyrus song ^^;v