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Shorty Awards 2019: How BLACKPINK & (G)I-DLE's Nominations Show K-Pop Groups as Digital Influencers

Blackpink
Alexandra Gavillet

Clockwise from top left: Rosé, Jennie, Lisa and Jisoo of Blackpink photographed on Feb. 8, 2019 at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles.

The 11th annual Shorty Awards take place May 5 in New York City where fans will find out if BLACKPINK wins for Best in Music.

This weekend, the Shorty Awards will take place in New York to honor the best and most influential artists and content creators across digital platforms and social media. While BTS was previously honored by winning the Best in Music category at the 9th Annual Shorty Awards in 2017, this year marks two more K-pop acts being recognized in areas of music and gaming. According to the Shorty Awards, this all points to the expanding digital influence after a year of significant digital growth for the music scene at large.

At this year's Shorty Awards, BLACKPINK is a finalist in the Best in Music category alongside Harry Styles, Kacey Musgraves, Post Malone, Janelle Monáe and 12-year-old viral yodel star Mason Ramsey. For influencer categories, a nominating board for the Shorty Awards selects finalists based on their past year of social and digital media with the K-pop quartet noted for record-breaking YouTube views, millions of followers across both their individual, and group accounts on social media, web series productions, all being rewarded by continuous activity from their passionate fanbase.

"There's clear thought being put into creating content of quality," a Shorty Awards spokesperson tells Billboard of the group's past year of output

BLACKPINK's category will be announced at the ceremony on May 5.

Meanwhile, (G)I-DLE have already taken a win in the brand and organization category for Best in Games. The K-pop girl group saw members Soyeon and Miyeon participate as member of the virtual pop group K/DA, alongside American singers Madison Beer and Jaira Burns, for the "Pop/Stars" campaign produced by Riot Games for the League of Legends 2018 world championship in South Korea.

Recognitions in the brand and organization categories are decided by Shorty Awards' Real Time Academy jury board featuring entertainment, technology and journalism heads that score entries based on creativity, use of platform and strategy.

"'Pop/Stars' was a great example of localization and market research," the awards spokesperson adds. "Riot Games appealed to a community of gamers with a collaboration that combined technology, music, and created a special moment at the League of Legends World Championship."

Both recognitions speak to K-pop's growing influence not only for the music scene's ability to create general online buzz, but speaks to the possibility of these acts being more influential in larger industries beyond digital music.

The Shorty Awards spokesperson notes that not only are K-pop stars going wider with their digital presences thanks to collaborations and web series (with everyone from Drake, DJ Khaled and Dua Lipa showing love for Korean artists while YouTube signed an exclusive series in BTS: Burning the Stage on YouTube Premium), but traditional brands and fashion houses are looking for collaborations and ambassadors (like when Kaja partnered with (G)I-DLE to mark the first-ever U.S. beauty brand collaboration with a K-pop group). 

Even without the typical measures of musical success in album sales or radio play, more awards shows, including the Shorty Awards, are honoring and leveraging K-pop fans' famous fanaticism to bring the artists into the celebrity mix. The awards spokesperson notes, "While fan-voted and social categories, K-pop groups are recognized in award shows and in social categories because of their fanbase's ability to mobilize and work towards common causes whether that be votes in a competition or online promotions of the artist's work."

But as K-pop continues to grow on traditional music platforms (with more artists creating partnerships on Spotify and Apple Music and Korean music appearing more in these company playlists), the key component in the K-pop fervor came from the innovative ways the scene was already utilizing in its content. 

"K-pop is able to propel itself online because of the inherent music ecosystem that already exists in Korea," the Shorty Awards spokesperson says, citing weekly music shows posting performances on YouTube that also includes content of "fancams," special stages and other behind-the-scenes content. Meanwhile, they point to companies like DINGO (that creates exclusive digital performances and other content with Korean celebrities) as well as K-pop's increased use and embrace of vertical video (see M2's popular videos of vertical-video fancams that focus on filming one member of groups and relay dances).

Altogether, Shorty Awards remain bullish about K-pop's future and becoming increasing involved with its fans.

"Music becomes increasingly ubiquitous in that as more people have access to music around the world and are introduced to music from around the world through their listening platform of choice, we embrace and treat K-pop as simply music," the spokesperson adds. "We love K-pop fans! They're enthusiastic, show so much support for their artists and are constantly raising the bar with their levels of engagement online. We hope to continue to be a part of the community in the future and spotlight musicians and content from around the globe."

The 11th Annual Shorty Awards take place on Sunday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. ET. The awards will be streamed live on YouTube and Twitter.

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