Law and Policy in The Rise of K-Pop and Other Asian Music Genres

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM KST
IGC Multiplex #5074 (Small Theater)

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K-Pop group in stadium

The explosive growth of K-Pop and other Asian music genres that has arguably surpassed the traditional juggernaut of American music has many industry leaders and policymakers taking notice. While global economic and demographic factors may explain much of the rise of Asian pop music, some countries such as South Korea took express law and policy steps to grow national soft power in the regional and world stage. This third in a series of Music Ecosystem conferences organized by former C-IP2 Faculty Director—and now Executive Director, Music Ecosystems Institute—Sean O’Connor will explore what role law and policy has played in the rise of K-Pop and other Asian pop music genres. The conference will also address other pressing issues such as the changing roles of data and record labels in a social media music landscape. Apropos to this focus, the conference will be held at George Mason University’s Korea campus (“Mason Korea”). As always, it brings together musicians, music fans, lawyers, artist advocates, business leaders, government policymakers, and anyone interested in supporting thriving music ecosystems around the globe.

Conference Program

9:15 – 10:30 am
The Role of Government Policy in The Rise Of K-Pop, Mando-Pop, and other New Asian Music Genres

If the 20th Century was the American Century in popular music, the 21st might be the Asian Century. Led by K-Pop, Asian genres are rapidly displacing American and other Western genres in the massive markets of Asia while also making serious inroads into Western markets. Is this simply a story of changing demographics and music preferences or have intentional state policies—such as modernization of the Korean Copyright Act—facilitated this transformation? This panel considers these questions in the context of other intentional state policies around the disruption of America soft power and building of such power in the East.

10:30 – 10:45 am: Break


10:45 – 12:00 am
Eastern versus Western Roles of Labels and Management Companies

Western record labels have transformed from primarily production, finance, and distribution entities to “artists services” companies. But labels in many Asian countries have long played a different role, with management companies playing a more central role in finding and developing talent than the labels do. 

12:00 – 1:00 pm

Featuring a "fireside" Chat with K-Pop Producer Kyu Lee and Seán O’connor

1:00 – 2:15 pm
Generative AI and Music Rights

The recent explosive use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) to create new music productions—often in the “style” of specific composers or performers—has consumed the music ecosystem and public with questions of ownership, authorship, and liability for infringement. Is this a matter of copyright, publicity rights, moral rights, or something else? The expert panel provides their views on this fast-moving development.

2:15 – 3:30 pm
Social Media: Benefits and Challenges for the Music Ecosystem

Social media platforms have enabled the launch of many pop music careers since the early 2000s. Savvy musicians, producers, and labels have sophisticated social media strategies and tactics. But these same platforms are often hotbeds of piracy and unauthorized alterations of existing music productions (though they often enter into legitimate licensing once they mature). More recently, arguably the hottest platform—Tik Tok—has come into the crosshairs of Western governments for alleged national security issues related to geopolitical tensions. As a leading platform gets banned in some markets, what does this mean for artists who want to use it to launch their careers? Out expert panel discusses all these aspects and more—including the industry hot button topic of access to and control of rich user detail generated by platforms.

3:30 – 3:45 pm: Break


3:45 – 5:00 pm
Traditional Korean and other Asian Music in the Modern World 

While K-Pop, Mando-Pop, and other pop music forms generally get all the attention these days, what about traditional Asian music forms, such as Balinese music and dance? This panel explores a minor resurgence in attention to these older music forms in Asian and beyond to ask what law and policy can do to support them as both crucial cultural heritage and living art forms.

5:00 – 5:15 pm
Closing Ceremony


5:15 - 7:00 pm
Reception and Musical Performances


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