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What is T-POP ?

Thai-Pop, also known as T-POP, refers to Thailand’s popular music scene. 

T-pop is not new in the Thai music scene.Because the pop music trend has existed since 1977 such as The Impossible and Grand Ex, pioneering artists who made us know T-Pop as ‘string music’, which was influenced by western music genres. It consists of pop, rock, R&B or dance, which Thai pop seriously entered the mainstream during 1987 onwards.

The T-POP genre became popular in the 1987’s, with artists growing up during that time such as ProjectH, Sao Sao Sao (Girl, Girl, Girl) and the famous record label Kamikaze.The popularity of T-POP in Thailand has greatly surpassed that of other Eastern international music genres like K-pop (Korea) and J-pop (Japan). It may be claimed that the period represented the peak of T-POP.

But actually in Thailand there are many talented people in the field of music. There are many Thai people who have gone to be artists abroad or Thai artists who have performed abroad as well, such as Milli who has performed on a world-class stage like Coachella and create a phenomenon by  ‘Eat Mango Sticky Rice’ and ‘Dance Aerobics’ until it becomes a global trend or PYRA, the first Thai artist to perform at the ‘Burning Man’ world-class music festival, where she used to work with a producer who produced songs for famous artists like Justin Bieber and H.E.R.But the music market in Thailand is not very wide.  People don’t have the right to show or showcase much of their work.

While T-POP is well-known in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, it may not be as well-known on a global scale as other popular music genres such as K-Pop, J-Pop, or Western Pop.

The sale of music in those days competed with sales. If any song, any work that can be sold a lot, then the popularity of that song is high. And often the copy of the illegal music resulted in the artist’s work not as much as the popularity of the song causing the artist to fall from the music industry because of the mass of Investment, but the consequences are high in loss. Moreover, talent displays areas or performances such as 7 colors, concerts, music programs, offer limited conditions or limited opportunities to showcase their work and talents.

In 2010, marked the end of the tape and CD era and it marked the beginning of the digital and streaming era resulting in more artists and independent record labels. As a result, the record label had to change the music genre to suit the era as changing to market music online to reach more listeners because various music programs on television will end.People can listen and watch through their smartphones instead.Together with that time foreign music such as K-pop, J-pop began to come to Thailand more and more, so the growth of T-POP had to come to a halt.

Why ?

  • Lack of support

The reason why the T-POP industry doesn’t go as far as other countries is Thailand lacks a place where artists can fully and consistently showcase their work or promote to music fans in order to promote both the song and the artist themselves. But on the other hand, Thailand has very few events to perform on stage.  As a result, the artist is not well-known as it should be because organizing work or events requires a lot of budget and capital. Furthermore,Thailand still lacks support and pushing the Thai music industry from the government so it is impossible to do the stage or the promotion as well as it should be.Thai government didn’t focus on music industry because they didn’t saw that Thai music industry can drive the economy,tourism industry or made Thailand well-known as Korea saw their music industry as soft power.

  • Copyright violations occur in Thailand

In an era where the society without the Internet was several decades ago.It was the heyday of the cassette tape, music CDs, and popularity guaranteed by’sales’; the more you sold, the more well-liked you are, and that also means money coming in.

But suddenly, the Thai pop music industry has clearly declined and some artists have to leave the music industry earlier than usual.Because the coming of  ‘CDs illegal‘ breaks the cycle to waste the system.Those who purchase pirated CDs are essentially receiving unlicensed versions of music without paying for them, which means that neither the record labels nor the performers, composers, or record companies profit from these sales. This could result in a large loss of revenue for the music business as a whole, which could affect the capacity of musicians and record companies to create and release new music.

Moreover, music piracy may result in a decline in the value of music as a whole. The perceived value of music as a whole may decline if it is available for free or at a considerably discounted price. This may make it more challenging for musicians and record companies to support themselves through their work and may result in a decline in the standard of music being created.

Piracy may also result in the closure of CD retailers and other companies, which may have repercussions for the entire music sector. The capacity of artists and labels to distribute and market their music may be impacted when legal businesses are forced to go down as a result of piracy, which might further hurt the industry as a whole.

New driving force “T-POP stage show”

In 2021, there is a new show to wake up the Thai music industry like ‘T-POP Stage Show’ that is shown on Workpoint TV station the last Friday of the month.  It is a music list and a music rating list that brings artists,girl group,and boy bands from every industry to promote their works and make T-pop renowned throughout the world.This program will bring T-POP songs to the weekly hit art charts, musical soundtrack charts, and other charts, which these charts come from votes, similar in the past when you had to send SMS to vote for songs through the radio station.

However, the ‘T-POP Stage Show’ is like a part of driving the new generation of T-POP and other artists ever, because most of the times when an artist releases a new song, no matter which camp,there will always be shows on the stages, allowing fans to discover more about each artist. But on the other hand, T-POP Stage Show also faced the same problem.In terms of cost and internal management of the organization due to lack of support, the show had to be reduced to once a month.

Case study

For example, Thai girl group “Pixxie”, the owner of songs that everyone is familiar with such as เกินต้าน (Too Cute) which hit 21 millions views or มูเตลู (MUTELLU) which hit 14 millions views, Pixxie consists of MABELZ / PIMMA / INGKHO from LIT Entertainment  debuted in January 2021.

Currently, there are almost 10 songs available for viewing on various platforms. Events that they have gone out to perform songs or promote will be important events such as concerts, T-pop stages, but most of Pixxie’s schedules appear to be bars or chilling restaurants, leading to controversy on Twitter as to why the artist’s schedule is always packed with performances in a place like that.Most of the comments said the same thing that because Thailand has quite a few areas for artists to perform,lack of support from all sectors, and places like this are the best places to promote right now since it is a scale that is not very large in terms of singers and music but it made quite good money and not very tired.  As a result, most Thai artists nowadays often perform at bars instead.

Compared to K-pop, Newjeans is a new girl group from ADOR, a new record label affiliated with HYBE. The 5-member group consists of Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin and Hyein debuted in 2022 with a song that hits everyone’s ears like “ Attention” and currently they have a total of 6 songs released and about 2 albums for fans to buy and appreciate. The album contains only a few songs but what came with the CD included lots of photocards, photo books, lyrics,special messages,etc.  which is the new trend to release an album by focusing on selling the band’s concept in a new way rather than songs.In addition, since debut, Newjeans has performed on the big stage many times and also has its own YouTube channel to make various reality shows for fans to follow. There are spaces for artists to showcase their works at awards shows, stages, concerts, radio events, and more. Makes the K-pop industry grow wider and faster and also received good support from the government because the government saw that it helped spread the culture, help people know more about Korea and make the tourism industry expand even more quickly. 

If someone asks, “Is T-Pop successful yet?,” you can’t answer that it is until it dominates the nation like K-Pop or J-Pop, but we have been consistently and gradually moving up the ladder. A new generation that seems to be more interested in Thai pop music and ready to offer full support might grow into a powerful group of supporters and drive this sector in the future. Naturally, it has changed drastically from ten years prior. We may also claim that we are moving closer to realizing the goal of “I want to see T-pop expand into the world.”

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