The 24-hour station, believed to be the first of its kind, will debut on Thursday with a pop-heavy programming lineup and podcasts.
SiriusXM and 88rising, the Asian-focused music and media company, are launching an all-Asian, multi-genre internet radio channel that will be available across the U.S. It is believed to be the first of its kind on American radio.
The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, commercial-free channel, which will be called 88rising Radio, debuts on Thursday at 12 p.m. EST on SiriusXM’s channel 305 on car radios, online streaming and via the SiriusXM app. It will feature a heavy dose of pop music from a variety of Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Artists slated to appear include K-pop stars such as BTS, Blackpink, Twice and Jackson Wang, as well as Filipino pop singer Iñigo Pascual and South Korean DJ Peggy Gou.
The channel’s formation, which has been in the works for more than a year and was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, underscores the rising global popularity of Asian music in the streaming age. It also represents a coup for 88rising, the Los Angeles-based label run by founder and CEO Sean Miyashiro, whose artists, including Indonesian singer Niki, Japanese singer-songwriter Joji and Indonesian rapper Rich Brian, will gain broader exposure for their music and bigger royalties for radio play.
“This is a great indicator of where Asian music has come today,” Miyashiro tells Billboard. “Just playing Asian music 24 hours a day is a huge win and a massive step forward.”
Excluding Japan, Asia’s music market revenues experienced their second-straight year of double-digit growth in 2019, rising by 11.5% to $1.71 billion (Japan's revenues fell 0.9% to $2.9 billion), boosted by a strong uptick in paid subscription streaming, according to the IFPI.
Asian music is also showing its strength on Billboard’s new global charts. Japan and South Korea were among 10 countries with the highest number of songs that are over-indexing on the Global Excl. U.S. chart versus the Global 200 chart, which includes the U.S. market, the largest in the world.
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Pandora, which is owned by SiriusXM, will launch a complementary 88rising Radio station in January to include select tracks and exclusive artist audio messages from the SiriusXM channel.
88rising Radio will debut with a 24-hour takeover by 88rising artists and Asian talent from around the world. Participating artists will include Yuna, Dumbfoundead, beabadoobee, Phum Viphurit, Japanese Breakfast and Keshi.
Initial programming will include Dumb Early, hosted by rapper-actor Dumbfoundead, and SOSUPERSOUNDS, hosted by part-Filipino R&B DJ-singer SOSUPERSAM. Early next year Miyashiro will host a weekly global Asian countdown show, The Greatest 8.
When social distancing is no longer required, SiriusXM says, the channel will also provide a platform for touring artists to visit, conduct interviews and interact with listeners and perform live on the air at the SiriusXM studios in Los Angeles and New York.
Miyashiro says the SiriusXM channel will offer a heavy dose of pop music in English and in Asian languages. His team at 88rising, which will curate the station’s content, also plan to create shows featuring subgenres of Asian music such as 2000s Korean R&B and Japanese city pop. There are podcast plans as well. At least two shows are already in the works, including a six-part comedy interview series hosted by comedian Joel Kim Booster called Joy F*ck Club.
While the channel will be headquartered in Los Angeles at SiriusXM's new Hollywood studios, 88rising also plans to feature shows recorded in Asia, including two being produced in Seoul — one is a Total Request Live-style countdown show with performances, and the other is a “variety podcast show” developed around Jae, a Korean-American member of South Korean rock band Day6.
For 88rising, the SiriusXM channel will generate more content for the company’s growing Asian music-focused ecosystem. The label plans to film all the shows on the channel and repurpose them as video clips for social media and 88rising’s YouTube channel, which has nearly five million subscribers. “There will be a very large video component because we know how to take advantage of video,” Miyashiro says. “That's kind of a big part of our thinking.”
The SiriusXM channel is the latest effort by five-year-old 88rising to expand its footprint. The label has discovered breakthrough talent with NIKI and Higher Brothers, and recently inked a deal with a Filipino telco to develop crossover artists. “88rising is a pioneering force bridging East and West, with unquestionable success and credibility in bolstering cutting-edge Asian music culture,” Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer of SiriusXM, says in a statement.
Miyashiro says he isn’t so worried about language barriers to enjoying non-English songs. He’s counting on the same popularity that Latin music has generated with non-Spanish-speaking populations. “There's a lot of people that don't understand or speak Spanish fluently that are loving Latin music, including myself,” he says. “Bad Bunny — I listen to his album more than anybody's this year, I would say. It’s the same for K-pop. Like the lion's share of the global audience don't understand Korean.”
Miyashiro hopes the channel will ultimately become a “living and breathing universe of Asian music and culture, where we would develop a lot of different shows with personalities that have distinct point of views.”
UPDATE 12/02:Based on information provided by SiriusXM, a previous version of this story stated that the 88rising channel would not be available in autos. SiriusXM has since corrected the error, saying the new station would be accessible everywhere.