Culture ministry to combat music manipulation

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Culture ministry to combat music manipulation

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced yesterday a host of measures to crack down on “music hoarding,” the local term for gaming online music services to inflate play counts.

The ministry’s move comes one day after four major music labels asked prosecutors to investigate streaming services, accusing rivals of improperly boosting the number of plays their songs get online for better rankings on charts.

With higher song rankings, singers are more likely to be invited onto music television programs and labels can get more royalty payments.

The ministry said it will first work with online music providers to define what constitutes “music hoarding.”

Analysts say one standard could be playing one song nonstop for 24 hours, or about 360 times in a row.

The ministry also said that once artists or their entertainment agencies are found to have engaged in such activities, they could be stripped of any royalties.

“Music hoarding distorts consumer information, costs music service providers losses and takes royalties away from legitimate artists,” Kim Ki-hong, an official from the ministry’s copyright policy department, told reporters yesterday.

One source at an online music distributor said that the company had found a case of one customer who had streamed one single song more than 10,000 times.

The culture ministry said it will also advise online music service providers to emphasize downloads over streaming when drawing up charts. Currently, streaming accounts for 40 percent of chart value and downloads the rest.

Korea’s three leading music companies, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment, along with Star Empire, submitted a complaint to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Wednesday requesting it investigate allegations that other agencies are using technical tricks to ring up extra views on music Web sites, raising the ranking of certain songs.


BY KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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