K-pop rapper G-Dragon’s memory stick format triggers dispute
Government-sponsored chart refuses to accept K-pop star’s thumb drive release as an album
By Kim Jae-heun
K-pop icon G-Dragon’s new music released on a thumb drive is causing a dispute — whether to accept it as a real album or not.
The popular idol group BIGBANG’s rapper released his first solo work in four years, introducing his new album “Kwon Ji Yong” that contains five new tracks including the title song “Untitled, 2014” on June 8.
G-Dragon, who always seeks originality and innovative approaches in music and fashion, avoided recording his music on a disc in favour of a memory stick.
Gaon Music Chart, a weekly music chart sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, denied to approve it as an official album.
According to Gaon Music Chart, G-Dragon’s memory stick does not contain any music files and it only connects to YG Entertainment’s website where people can download music after inserting a serial number.
Last year, the copyright law was revised to acknowledge any form of digital album as an official record release — no matter where it is stored. However, Gaon Music Chart still sticks to their principle that only music recorded on disc form will be categorised as an “album” as the sales of music albums are reflected in their rankings on the chart.
“Gaon Chart has decided to categorize G-Dragon’s new album in a download service group,” said the Korea Music Content Industry Association (KMCIA), Monday. “If we include digital albums in the same category with hard copy albums, it breaks the boundaries that segment the digital chart, the download chart and the album chart.”
The KMCIA is an entity approved by the government that compiles the popularity of songs and albums with the aim of promoting them on a national music chart.
YG Entertainment expressed regret over Gaon Chart’s decision.
In the announcement, the record label said it respects the association’s decision but dissented on its old-fashioned system of classifying albums that only count music contained on a hard copy disc.
“Ranking new albums by their CD or cassette sales is an outdated standard. Nobody downloads songs on their mobile phones and many now use streaming services online,” YG Entertainment said in a statement. “Still, we don’t have a big problem with Gaon Chartranking system as people can listen to music without purchasing a record.”
Meanwhile, G-Dragon posted a complaint on Instagram, last Thursday, saying, “What is the fundamental reason of categorising my work into an album or not by somebody who can’t tell the difference? Well, there must be advantages and disadvantages, but the form of the outer appearance of music has been changing from cassette tape to CD and now downloading files online and what is important here is the song and lyrics that will stay forever in the ears and hearts of listeners.”
However, the post was deleted from the musician’s Instagram account after it fuelled controversy.