Rule Change Alert: GAON

A couple days ago some people woke up to notice that all Weibo charting on GAON had disappeared.

chanyeol gasp.gif

Others stumbled on to twitter and found their friends passing around this tweet:gaonchangetwt.

Top Hello
Hello… GAON… Whatchu doin??!

We at KpG checked, and yes… GAON and Weibo are parting ways.

Weibo; commonly referred to as “China’s Twitter” [although it’s really more like Facebook], will no longer be using GAON as the primary outlet for their charting. As of April of this year, Weibo announced a partnership with Billboard and Nielsen to create their own charting system.

KpG NOTE: YinYueTai, Twitter, and YouTube will still be counted in GAON data.

Why this date?

July 29th is the official separation date. KpG didn’t find any official statement as to why the 29th specifically but; to us, this date makes sense. It is the end of the week on GAON social charting, and the start of a new month.

Some fandoms are concerned this is an attack on their faves, or “rigging”.

This is not true.

As with all GAON changes; data will still be included in the aggregation up until the date of change. [In simple words: nothing will change with previous social scores.] The change will only affect future charting.

July 29th is an optimal move date, as far as KPop is concerned.  Neither July 29th nor 30th have any major releases scheduled. As well as being the end of the 3rd year of the Weibo GAON partnership, this date will have least impact on upcoming releases.

KpG NOTE: Based on the fact that both 9Muses (previously scheduled for the 29th) and BLANC7 (previously scheduled for the 30th) moved their release dates, we expect GAON alerted entertainment agencies of this rule change before hand.

Why did GAON change the rules?

Take note: it’s not just GAON, but Weibo that chose to make this change.

GAON Notice 7-27

But Why did Weibo terminate the contract?

For “China’s Twitter”, it means more capital (read: cash) and less possibility for China’s government to blacklist their site.

But…. whyyyy?


Take a deep breath.

We’re diving in to politics… and business… and Chinese patriotism.

holding breath

With anything Korean/China related these days, you will likely see comments around the internet about THADD thrown around. But people who closely follow the music industry in Korea and China are aware that China is using THADD as an excuse.

For the past several years, Korean entertainment dominated the charts in China. Korean movies, television, and music often chart well above China’s native own.  Korean products became the must have in every household rather than Chinese. Korea became the Chinese tourist’s hot spot. Descendants of the Sun; in many ways, was the final blow for China which strongly emphasizes national pride.

China has been using the cloak of THADD to remove the stronghold Korean entertainment has on their market and put their own entertainment back on top.

China not only has a restrictive ban on Korean entertainment, but has been known to randomly stop tours and just keep the money from Korean entertainers that are seen as successful. But despite all of China’s efforts… the Hallyu Wave continues to gain throughout China.

China’s answer?

Another crackdown on media outlets, Korean loving sites, and SNS…

Including Weibo.  weibo

Earlier this year, China began strategically shutting down KPop charting inside the Great Firewall. And just over a month ago, China began another round of censorship which extended to Weibo. This led to a hefty drop in Weibo stock and similar companies.

By severing ties with Korean company, GAON, Weibo can more easily appease the State Administration’s Hallyu Ban. It can also offer tighter control of what China deems  “appropriate”.

The shift also means offering China what it wants: in partnering with Billboard… but more importantly Nielsen, the government will have better access to data mining their citizens. This shift is a safeguard for the SNS giant, as Weibo’s resource for policing their citizens will likely outweigh the Hallyu threat… thus allowing them to continue to operate.

What does this mean for KPoppers?

Where GAON is concerned… not much.

As we all know, KPoppers will flock to wherever there is KPop. And YinYueTai is still counted from China’s market (added to GAON charting in February 2016), so China’s poppers will focus there.

KpG NOTE: Billboard also formed a partnership with YinYueTai in November 2015.

The GAON Weibo chart was a social chart, not a sales chart. Sales will not be affected, and everything will function much the same as it did prior to mid 2014. We may see Facebook re-added in the future (KpG NOTE: Weibo replaced Facebook in GAON’s social charting in 2014), or there may be an emerging market that will be added. [*Crosses fingers for Naver*]

As far as Weibo is concerned… this actually might mean good things for China’s KPop fans. Weibo has their own social charting and now they have gained their own Billboard charting to compliment China’s V Chart (YinYueTai).  The partnership with Nielsen also means that the relationship between an idol and their fans will potentially carry more weight in the Chinese market.

For now, it appears the new Billboard chart (started week of April 24th -30th) only features Chinese and American releases. [It does appear to include Chinese releases by Korean artists… or at least former ones.] But the chart is just beginning. We’ll keep our eyes on what charts they add in the future.

In the meantime, Korean companies are going to look to other sources than China to boost revenue. So that means expanding their global market. In other words… more international openings for fancafes. More access on V Live, Instagram, and Twitter. More concerts, and interviews, and fanmeets throughout the world. In places like North AND South America… and Australia, Japan, South East Asia… and maybe even [*gasp* dare we say it?!] … Europe.

In Conclusion:

The GAON social chart is just that… a measure of social media. And like all good social aggregation charts- it flows and changes and adapts with social trends. To expect a social chart to use the same metrics for all eternity is to ask the chart to be irrelevant.

Example: Closing of Korean SNS Me2Day (which was also used as a GAON social metric until June 2014), has meant the emergence of the powerhouse of Korean Twitter.

Changes to the GAON Social Chart are nothing new. In the 4 years since it’s beginning (mid July 2013) there have been 4 major changes to data collection sources. (2015 was the only year that didn’t face an aggregation overhaul.)

There will undoubtedly be more changes in the future. And people inherently dislike change. So, whenever there is change… someone will complain. And that’s fine, but just be sure if it’s you…

know the real facts.

Stay smart.Smart KPop

And don’t fight.

After all… we’re all KPoppers…

So we’re all family.

(…If you know me… then you knew it was coming.)


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