These are the things that every KPopper needs to have in their back pocket… (er… um… not literally. It would be hard to stuff the whole of the internets in there.) Sometimes navigating the how/what/where of how to KPop can be confusing… even for a veteran KPopper.
This post is a bit long but we’ve included:
- How and where to stream
- Where to buy albums (and where you shouldn’t)
- Where to get reliable KPop news
- Hints for having multiple accounts
- Must have websites and apps
- A few handy hints
We know it’s a lot, but we can do anything for our faves, right? So let’s dive in;
..·•° Streaming & Download Sites °•·..
~ Global Streaming ~
There are lots of places you can stream online that will count towards different things. But as a KPopper, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time when our faves have a comeback. So we here at KpG are giving you the top sites that cover the most ground for where to stream.
- counts towards: Billboard Hot 100, Billboard Social Artist, most Korean award show stages
- HINT: use the official artist channel instead of 1theK. Offiical artist channels count for all stage shows, but 1theK doesn’t. [Also this gives your idols and their labels the ad revenue instead of 1theK.]
- Counts towards all Billboard charts
- Only US streams count towards Billboard 200 and Hot 100, others count towards other global Billboard charts (*see How To Billboard post*). All count toward World Album Chart.
- NOTE: UK, Canada, Germany, and Japan are also considered large and important charts.
Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Unlimited, Google Play…
- Streaming from any of these also count towards Billboard Charts wherever you are.
- Deezer is the exception. It doesn’t count towards Billboard but it does count towards RIAA, RIAJ, etc.
~Global Downloads ~
As of 2017, downloads count towards all Billboard Charts as album sales.
HINT: Download the single promotional track first. This will help chart on Billboard’s Hot 100. Then download the rest of the album to contribute to World Album Sales and Billboard 200. Do not complete the album until the following week in order for it to count for Hot 100 chart.
Where to Download:
- Spotify (downloads in premium only) – counts towards All Billboard charts and Spotify Top 200 and Viral 50.
- iTunes (US downloads only) – counts towards iTunes Charts, Billboard 200, Billboard Hot 100, and Billboard World Album Chart.
- Google Play – US downloads count toward Billboard 200, Hot 100. All downloads count toward World Album charts.
- Amazon Prime – US downloads count towards Billboard 200, Hot 100. All downloads count toward World Album charts and related country Billboard charts.
(KpG NOTE: Do NOT buy your physical album from Amazon if you want it to count towards Hanteo. Buy from a registered Hanteo dealer **see list below**)
~ Korean Charting ~
Instiz iChart is most frequently uses as a source to prove Certified All Kills (CAK) and Perfect All Kills (PAK).
Streaming sites that count for Instiz Chart (as of 15 May 2017)
(KpG Note: The May 15 update announced Soribada would be removed, but it is still listed on the iChart. It appears with the addition of the Soribada Awards in September 2017, they managed to stay on Instiz.)
~ Places that Count for GAON ~
There’s a bit of controversy over whether or not International streams are counted towards Korean streaming charts. For instance: It appears MelOn streaming blocks certain countries IP addresses and/or phone numbers from outside Korea for charting (read: likely from anywhere outside of Asia).
KpG NOTE: Most Korean streaming apps use the registered phone number as proof of residency. [In other words, you’d need a Korean phone number for it to count.] They also want you to pay via a Korean account. [Example: if you have an iPhone you would need a Korean iTunes account.] Soribada and Naver appear to be the only two count all global streams.
Until we have confirmation otherwise, focus on ones available in your country.
We recommend you stream from sites you are 100% positive it counts: Spotify, YouTube, Pandora (as of January 2017), and so on. Don’t waste your money or time on sites where you’re just hoping it will matter.
~ Naver- the Probable Exception To The Rule ~
If there is a Korean streaming site that is going to buck the trend- it’s going to be Naver. Naver has been ever increasing it’s global brand, and has been making an effort to break ground in international markets (ever heard of V Live? Yep. That’s owned by Line… which is owned by Naver.)
Although Naver Music does not as yet have a language option for streaming, they do have quite a number of products in English and other languages.
Naver is also currently the only free streaming site that counts towards all Korean charts.
Also worth noting: As of early 2017 Naver is making further headway into the global market. They have a web browser in open beta testing that is geared towards omni tasking and easier language translations. Mobile and PC versions are expected for full release by the end of July. The browser is called Whale.
~ Billboard ~
Streaming platforms that count towards Billboard 200, Hot 100, and Album Sales charts:
- Apple Music
- SoundCloud (as of October 2016)
- Google Play
- Groove Music
- Amazon Prime and Amazon Music Unlimited Streams (as of October 2016)
- Pandora (as of January 2017)
YouTube and Vevo do not count toward Billboard 200 or Genre charts, but it does count toward Billboard Hot 100?
Breakdown: 10 downloads = 1 album sale, 1500 song streams = 1 album sale
Note: The Hot 100 also includes Radio Play
Social Sites that count towards Social Artist and Viral 50:
And yes… Billboard counts free streams and free trial period access from places like Spotify.)
Various Artists Tracks: Will now only count towards album charts (like the BB 200) and no longer towards individual artist streaming tracks. This is an effort by Billboard to stop the chart rigging by labels to feature one popular artist on one song in order to bump the entire album charting.
How to download to help get on Billboard Hot 100: Buy the individual featured track first, then buy the rest of the album (or just buy the single track). If you buy the whole album first it will count only as an album sale. The Hot 100 is an individual track chart.
~ Spotify vs. iTunes ~
It’s safe to say we all agree streaming on Spotify counts towards Billboard.
But what about iTunes?
Does iTunes even count?
The “iTunes counts” vs. “iTunes doesn’t count” debate has been going on for ages.
And the answer is… both sides are right.
Quick History lesson: Apple music didn’t use to count. Apple wanted to started it’s own charting, so they refused to comply with everyone else’s industry standards (big suprise). But since Billboard was recognized as the standard worldwide, iTunes got left behind.
As of 2015 Billboard added iTunes to the chart.
Spotify on the other hand, is an exclusive partner for Billboard for some charts. The Viral 50 charts, the Hot 100, and a few others all count straight from Spotify and not from iTunes. Think of it this way- iTunes counts if you buy the song, but for streaming you’re going to qualify for more charts if you use Spotify.
However please keep in mind; at this time, neither place contributes to Korean Charting when it comes to download counts or streaming.
~ YouTube ~
YouTube streaming is a major part of the international KPopper’s life. Please see KpG’s post on How To YouTube for all the dos and don’ts of YouTube streaming. If you don’t feel like reading it all: just remember as long as you stream normally (no tricks & no gimmicks) then your view will count.
If you’re looking for YouTube Records… we have that too.
..·•° How To Buy Albums °•·.
Hanteo/Gaon approved Merch Shops
Hanteo vs. Gaon
There are two main charts in Korea that record album sales. Hanteo and Gaon. If you’re confused by this, we here at KpG made a simple, easy to understand explanation and breakdown of Hanteo vs. Gaon.
Where To Buy
If you absolutely want to guarantee your physical album purchase counts in Korean charting, don’t purchase from Amazon or EBay. Yes; there are storefronts that claim their “sales count towards Hanteo and Gaon charts” (and some of them may… especially for Gaon.), but there also numerous sellers that just add that tag to boost sales and aren’t approved sellers at all.
Sites that count towards Korean charts:
- Merch prices are higher but this is often offset by better free shipping deals
- Free shipping deals change monthly (minimum order for free shipping is usually between $25 to $40, but several times a year there is no minimum purchase).
- Customer service is fairly reliable.
- Package tracking is included. You will be emailed when shipped.
- Often gives additional discount coupons for repeat buyers.
- Carries Japanese albums .and harder to find merch items
- Tons of little freebies when ordering Japanese goods
- Search function could really use an upgrade (basically… it never works)
- Customer service is fairly reliable
- They email you pics of your package when shipping.
- Package tracking is not available
- Items are usually very well packed (they don’t skimp on the bubble wrap)
- Posters are usually shipped with other items
- Discounted items are found in the Price Drop.
- Often has free posters and other freebies with purchases
- Free shipping and freebie/ discount deals change monthly.
- Package tracking is an available for most items (it will tell you ahead of time if tracking is not available)
- Shipping is fairly reliable. You will be emailed when shipped.
- Posters are usually shipped separately.
- Customer service is there, but sometimes takes some prodding to get in touch (hint: Use the Contact Us on the site rather than direct email).
- Coupon codes can be found all over the place online
- Customer service is mostly reliable. (You can also get them on Twitter)
- They drop prices on older merch, so older merch is pretty cheap
- They carry both official and unofficial goods, so read the fine print when purchasing.
- Most of the things other than preorders are out of stock.
- Offers shipping discounts (often international shipping is free)
- Customer service is hit or miss
- Package Tracking is available
- You can now buy MP3s from KoreanMall. (KpG NOTE: No word yet if these count towards digital charting, so for now please purchase from approved digital sites if you want your purchase to count.)
- Signed albums and exclusive merch. (KpG Note: Signed albums are guaranteed to be legit and run close to the same cost as nonsigned albums.)
- Shipping is usually cheap, and tracking can be added for $3.00.
- Reaaaaaaaally slow to ship.
- Although bubble wrapped, not always well packed.
- Some products are MWave Meet & Greet exclusives. In order to get album/merch you purchase album ahead of time and must sign in and watch during live broadcast. A sort of lottery occurs, and the artist chooses special prizes like extra photo cards and special Polaroids during the broadcast. Top supporters are also given special prizes.
- Don’t confuse customer service complaints with the Mwave computer company (which apparently is awful). KpG couldn’t find info from anyone who had to deal with customer service, and we haven’t needed to use it ourselves.
- Synnara — We’re demoting Synnara to the honorable mention category strictly because the site itself is just so horrible. Yes, And ordering can be… complicated (especially for a newbie). The one plus is that sales do count in real time, so as soon as you order the number is reported imediately.
- G-Market — This site is essentially the eBay of Korea. It’s a completely reputable and a decent site if you’re shopping for merch, but please note: sales do not count towards Hanteo.
- Direct sales from the company. Some bands have their own site where you can order directly from them (like BTS, SuperJunior). Most of these shops also do direct reporting, but they don’t offer the international shipping discounts that other stores do for purchasers outside of Korea.
Less than Honorable Mentions:
- KTown4U (formerly: DvdHeaven)
- Items are often cheaper than other sites
- Known to sell items they don’t have in stock with no notice of out of stock given to the customer. It can take months to receive an item (and sometimes never if the item is never restocked).
- Customer service is nonexistent
- Packaging is poor (items often arrive damaged or broken)
- Most of the time items count towards Hanteo/Gaon, but occasionally they are listed as a 3rd party site and purchases won’t count. There is no way to know until after bulk purchases are made whether or not your items counted.
- Ebay – Don’t. Just don’t. Soooooo many people have ended up with fake merch, and nothing on Ebay will ever count towards Hanteo and probably not on Gaon either.
- Amazon – Although sometimes you can find fun merch on Amazon, if you want your album to count towards Hanteo, don’t use Amazon. Several Amazon stores have been found to falsely claim they report sales to Hanteo when they actually do not. Since it’s hard to tell real vs. fake storefronts, just avoid Amazon if you want your purchase to count.
..·•° Multiple Accounts °•·.
Every KPopper learns the value of multiple accounts. Be it Twitter, or Facebook, email, and so on.
Spam accounts are needed for app voting. Let’s face it. Some of the apps for voting would make a Nigerian Prince who just needs access to your bank account raise an eyebrow. They’re sketchy. Never use a real email, etc. or anything actually linked to you. Also, if you’re planning on “earning points” for those pay-to-play voting apps then spam is 120% assured. Setting up spam accounts makes sure you don’t annoy your friends (and yourself). Having multiple accounts means when you run into those apps that give bonus points for referring a friend then you just refer yourself rather than annoying your real life friends.
Note on Multiple Twitter Accounts: Many sites that allow Twitter voting do not count FF (Free Follow) or non registered accounts. In other words, your account can’t look like a spam account. So set up your account, follow a few faves, and tweet normal things every so often.
Note on Fake Phone Numbers: some apps want to have a real phone number and will only activate your account once they can prove it’s a real number (sending your a text your respond to, etc.). Hello, Google Voice! Since you’re probably setting up a pseudo google account for voting anyway, just tack this one on to your account. Then you don’t have to worry about all the sketchy places having access to your actual data.
Save your accounts. So you created 10 accounts for MAMA or some other voting marathon. Now that it’s over… save all your info. Account names, passwords…you’ll find use for them again. Whether it’s because your favorite idols are having a comeback, or they’ve been selected to appear on a show like Hit The Stage; voting never really ends in KPop. [I personally have a spam folder that lists all the corresponding information for each account… er… “persona”. For instance, starting with an email account I also show the twitter, the personality info (like name, age, etc.), and (when applicable) fake facebook account. To be honest; I really hate facebook. I don’t even have a personal one for myself. But there are times when a voting app requires or works better with it. So I have a handful that are only for KPop voting. *Sigh.* The things we do for our beloved idols.]
..·•° KPop News °•·.
Reliable News Sources
- HipHopKR – for all KHH enthusiasts
- The Seoul Story – straight translations from Korean about KPop
- Yonhap News or Naver (both have English Translations sites if needed)
- KultScene – although articles are sporadic, they’re well researched & respected for integrity
- Stan Twitter – Not kidding. Most fandoms have a handful of accounts that are always up to date on the latest news. Of course, there are also fansites that just like to fuel the rumormill for retweets- so vet their sources carefully.
- Reddit – Beyond /r/kpop there is bound to be a subreddit for your favorite group (and if there isn’t then start one). Most individual group subreddits are on top of all the news, and it’s a great way to plan events. (KpG Note: /r/kpop does currently allow Allkpop content. The debate of whether to block or not has been going on for ages, but that is the choice of the mods. So just check your source sites first. Although allowed, many redditors just avoid the Allkpop posts.)
- NetizenBuzz – although we wouldn’t classify this as “news” (it’s more… translations of KPop drama); it’s a good way to get a feel for how KPop is seen by Koreans. For those unfamiliar- NetizenBuzz translates comments from KNetz. The good and the bad. They do not write articles themselves. So even if you don’t like what is being said, Do Not attack NetizenBuzz. Be warned: many of the comments translated are pretty toxic. So only visit if you have thick skin and a bag of popcorn.
UnReliable News Sources (the Block & Walk Away sites)
- AllKpop – A gossip rag that has zero ethics and is trolling kpop under the protection of “journalism” for clickbait. There’s a reason most fandoms have called for a boycott of this site at least once. If your favorite fandom hasn’t yet… give it time.
- Koreaboo – Possibly the only site worse than Allkpop. They intentionally use misleading content, plagiarize other articles, and thrive off rumors for clickbait.
- HallyuBack – *Big sigh* what can we say?! For those who don’t know… she’s an artist, and he is a “filmmaker” (who gave up working for his dreeeeeam). They often make mountains out of molehills hoping for clicks (read: not journalism). Yes, they lived in Korea for a bit, but that doesn’t make them experts. America has Trump for a president. Just because you live somewhere doesn’t make you an expert on something or automatically smart.
KpG NOTE: Most veteran KPoppers have the above sites blocked or muted. If you want to be taken seriously – don’t use them as a reference for your post.
Not Quite Honorable mentions:
- KPopStarz – occasionally they have a decent article, but most of the time they just quote other articles… including Allkpop or Koreaboo. They also have a history of not paying their writers (which is probably why decent articles are few and far between).
- Amino – Although Kpop Amino and individual group aminos can be fun, posts are by no means to be taken as fact or reliable. There are some well researched posts; but just as frequently people post there without fact checking. So do your own research, and don’t be afraid to ask for their source. (Also note: trolls post in amino posing as fans trying to stir up drama. Be wary of any post claiming another fandom has done X.)
..·•° The Best of the Web °•·..
There are many places around the internet that KPoppers lurk. Some great, some not so much… but where to our Idols themselves hang out?
Apps and other important websites:
Naver – even if you don’t quite get the “how to stream on Naver” you can still do research and watch MVs on Naver’s site. As long as you have downloaded the Naver app and registered, it will count. (Hint: Having a LINE account that logs both your Naver and V Live means you can earn points with anything on Naver and cash them in for V LIve’s special features.
..·•° Knowledge Is Power °•·..
KpG is working on a Glossary of KPop Terms. We hope to have it posted soon. We will link it here once it’s posted.
..·•° Time Zone Converter °•·..
Unless you live in Korea, you’re going to need a quick and easy time zone calculator to help you make sure you are absolutely on time when voting begins, MVs drop, award shows air (which for most of us is when we should be either working or sleeping).
You can always download an app, but if you’re looking for one online: this Time Zone Converter is easy to use.
..·•° A Word of Advice: °•·.
Pick Your Battlestation
We can’t do everything. We all love our idols and we want them to win so they can be happy and proud… but we can’t do it all. So find what you can do, and do that well. There are tons of things to do when a comeback comes around, but if everyone does a lot of things in little spurts then nothing of consequence will be accomplished.
Pick a smaller handful of things you are capable of doing- and be committed.
- If streaming the MV is the best you can do, then have at it.
- If voting a bazillion times is your thing, then do that.
- If working the social or the research is what you are best at, then go for it.
Whatever it is you choose, don’t be discouraged when others tell you that you should be helping with X Y Z.
All of us have a place, and every part helps. Doing your best is what matters most.