- How to be a Kpop Star
- Start voice and dance training at an early age.
- It helps to know some level of Korean.
- Don’t forget to work on your personality.
- Perform well-known Pop songs during your audition.
- Prepare one personal dance choreography routine.
- Don’t be too active on social media before you become a trainee.
- Don’t be overweight and stay fit.
- Wear normal comfortable clothes and minimal makeup for your audition.
- Apply for as many online auditions and live auditions as possible.
- Learn from every audition.
- How to be a K-pop Entertainment Influencer
- Frequently Asked Questions on How to Become a K-pop Idol.
- What is a typical Live K-pop Audition like?
- What is required in an online audition?
- How long do I have to be a trainee?
- What is a typical schedule like as a trainee?
- What are some things you are banned from doing as a K-pop Trainee?
- At what age should I give up becoming a K-pop star?
- Do I need to have pale/light skin?
- Do I need to speak Korean well?
- Can I become a K-Pop star if I am from another country?
- How many “Rookie Groups” end up making it big?
- How much money do K-pop Idols make?
- How long will it take to determine if I passed my K-pop Audition?
With the rise of K-pop globally, more and more people are looking for tips on becoming a Kpop star. Korean entertainment companies do a great job of recruiting worldwide to find the next top talent. Many Kpop auditions are open to all nationalities. K-pop entertainment companies know it is smart to have at least one member in the group be a non-Korean, which will help them expand into that particular market.
Many have seen the huge success of BLACKPINK, especially Lisa, who has a huge fan base in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Lisa is one of the most popular K-pop stars. For most Kpop groups that are coming out, you will find at least one non-Korean member. This trend will not fade anytime soon as the global market embraces Kpop. Therefore expect Kpop entertainment companies to look outside of South Korea to find new talent in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and India.
However, before becoming a K-pop Star, one must undergo a tough training process lasting 3-5 years. Jo Kwon from 2 AM had to train for eight years before his debut! This shows just how hard it is to become a Kpop idol. However, with a lot of hard work and natural talent, it is possible to join as a trainee for one of the many Kpop entertainment companies.
How to be a Kpop Star
The life of a trainee is hard as they live, train, and perform with other trainees at a very young age. For those looking to become the next K-pop idol, we at SEOULSPACE talked to many experts in the K-pop industry, from producers, past idols, and staffers, to come up with ten tips on how to be a K-pop star. This will be the most in-depth breakdown of how to become a Kpop star online. Remember to become a K-pop star; you must have 2 out of 3 factors. Be a good singer or rapper, be a good dancer, and be attractive. It is a must to have at least 2 out of the 3.
Start voice and dance training at an early age.
You can audition as early as 12 years old at many Kpop auditions. Therefore, getting a full two years of experience in dancing and voice training is recommended before auditioning. That means at the earliest you should be training at age 10. If you are under 14, a legal guardian must accompany you for your auditions. The average age of those who audition is 18 years old (12-25 years old). Still, you should start training at age 16 at the latest.
Voice training has a lot to do with knowing how to breathe and finding your range. There are seven main ranges:
If you are male and can hit Alto or even Soprano, that will be a huge plus when auditioning for K-pop entertainment companies. The higher ranges you can hit, the better. Your voice is a muscle that you need to work out to develop your voice. For example, Jin from BTS was not a great singer and wanted to be an actor. However, he trained hard to get his voice to where it is today. So remember, singing ability CAN be improved with hard work. Therefore, if you are a smoker, you will need to quit. Not only does smoking hurt your voice, but it will be banned for most trainees.
Dancing is more important than Singing.
We recommend focusing on dancing as most interested in entering K-pop can sing or rap. Your focus should be on hip-hop, contemporary, and urban dancing. For those who do not have the funds to take Kpop dancing lessons, there are hundreds of Kpop dance tutorials on YouTube videos that can help you. Commit to at least 30 hrs a week to become a more versatile dancer. One producer said they would take a great dancer over a great singer any day. In Kpop, performance on stage is very important. It is common for the songs to be pre-recorded so the group can solely focus on the choreography of their live performance. This is why so much emphasis is put on one’s dancing ability.
While singing can be faked with autotune, dancing can’t. These performances are visually stimulating in ways that singing can’t deliver. In addition, if you are a good dancer, you will be featured more in the teaser videos. An example of this is EXO/Kai and SHINee/Taemin. Another example is Jisoo of BLACKPINK, who isn’t featured like the others because she is the weakest dancer in the group.
Therefore, it is possible to become a K-pop star even if you can’t sing. Many rappers, dancers, and visuals have succeeded as K-pop stars without a great voice. For example, Nancy from Momoland and Yoona from SNSD do not have great voices but are pretty much the face of their group because they bring other talents to the table.
It helps to know some level of Korean.
It is not a requirement to speak Korean. Remember, BlackPink’s Lisa didn’t speak Korean as a trainee. Many K-pop entertainment companies allow all ethnicities and races to audition. This is because they want a representative from a particular country. After all, that expands their audience base. Countries like Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and China are places many K-pop entertainment companies are eager to enter.
Furthermore, there is a huge fan Kpop fan base in India, the Philippines, and Indonesia. However, you should still know some level of Korean. Furthermore, you will be living in Korea during your training, and it is a good idea to know some Korean if you want to travel around Seoul. In addition, Koreans like it when foreigners try to learn the Korean language.
Try to learn the basic phrases initially, and while you train in Korea, you can quickly pick up the Korean language. You will perform many Korean songs and be surrounded by many Korean trainees. Therefore preparing by studying Korean beforehand will be very helpful. You can use many Korean educational apps to make this process easier. In addition, try watching some of the best Korean dramas and Korean movies. In about a year, you can speak and understand Korean at a basic level.
Don’t forget to work on your personality.
K-pop entertainment companies realize that personality goes a long way in building a group’s fanbase. All will have to go on Korean variety shows; this is where personality goes a long way. A great way to work on your personality is to watch K-pop idol interviews and prepare yourself with the typical questions that might come your way. Another way is to have a few prepared funny/interesting stories ready. Think of it as storytelling; the more you tell it, the more feedback you will get to try and improve it.
Remember, the life of a K-pop star is very short, so you must transition into other areas, such as announcing or acting. Therefore as mentioned in #2 on this list, if you are a foreigner, learning the Korean language will give you more exposure to these Korean TV programs. Koreans like hearing foreigners speak broken Korean; they consider it cute. In addition, Kpop stars will be pushed to sell Kpop merchandise. A fun personality can bring much value to the entertainment company, ultimately giving you more advertisement exposure.
Perform well-known Pop songs during your audition.
This is crucial. Take a popular K-pop song and add your arrangement and style to it. When you have time, look at the IU YouTube video below. This is a perfect example of how to turn a very popular Kpop song and make it your own.
Most judges will tune you out from the start if you perform your original or obscure song. If you are a songwriter, you will have plenty of opportunities to showcase your talent, don’t do it during an audition. While you are a trainee, you will be asked to write and choreograph your original music so keep that in mind. Most auditions will ask you to sing an English song and one Korean song. It is always good to have one backup, just in case.
Therefore for your audition, select a song that was a hit at some point. Producers have recommended people who audition should take a fast-paced song and slow it down. Or take a slow-paced ballad and speed it up. This will show not only your singing ability but also your creativity.
A great strategy is to have three generations of pop songs ready. One from the 90s. One from 2000-2010. And one from 2010 until now. Then based on who is judging and their age range, pick the song you think they will connect best with. For example, if they look in their 40s, then go with the 90s song.
Prepare one personal dance choreography routine.
Most auditions will ask you to do dance choreography. Again pick a popular song and choreograph your dance routine. This is where you can show them your creativity more than with a song. Check out this amazing choreography of BTS’s Boy With Luv below by 1MILLION Dance Studio. There are tons of choreographed dance routines on this channel where you can get inspired.
If you perform an existing dance routine, you will be judged by the Kpop group performing that routine. Therefore it will have to be perfect. If you can do the routine perfectly, then, by all means, go with that choreography but be warned, if you don’t do it perfectly, judges will notice. We recommend checking out Korean YouTubers Waveya’s YouTube channel to learn more about the hottest dance moves to add to your choreography.
Don’t be too active on social media before you become a trainee.
Korean entertainment companies will screen your social media accounts to ensure you are not in scandalous situations. K-pop stars need to show good manners and behave properly. Especially after the recent Burning Sun scandal, it is important to keep a low profile on social media accounts. One mistake can be costly. Therefore it is better to be safe than sorry. Imagine getting accepted as a trainee only to have your past social media posts, or comments bring you down.
Hold off on social media for now and focus on training. This also means you need to stay out of trouble. No more partying at clubs and drinking alcohol with friends. Producers do their best to try and predict if a certain trainee could cause issues later on down the line. Recent scandals within the K-pop industry have made it a priority to fully check a trainee’s background and habits before bringing them on board. Were you a bully in school? If the record company does not find out, fans will.
Kpop Scouts don’t want Social Media Influencers.
Some might say that teams look at social media accounts to find that next star. This is not true. There might be occasions where Korean entertainment companies select you based on your social media profile. Still, in over 95% of cases, talent is scouted via auditions, profile submissions, and sometimes just off the street! The fact is that talent scouts are just too busy to keep track of social media to find talent. They are focused on live auditions and reviewing online submissions; therefore, focus your attention on those. Also, many K-pop entertainment companies want to build their brand and not piggyback off an established social media influencer.
Once you become a K-pop star, it is up to the entertainment company’s policies and rules on whether you can have your own social media channel. For example, BTS members don’t run their social media channels. Big Hit has its company channel. However, the good news is that because of the success of BLACKPINK using social media to expand its reach, more and more K-pop entertainment companies are letting its stars run their channels. Again, this could be risky, and many will most likely have a social media manager assigned to each artist to ensure everything going up is not controversial.
Don’t be overweight and stay fit.
Korean entertainment companies have a certain beauty standard; they will not take you on if you don’t fit it. Whether you are the best singer or dancer, you must be below a certain weight. The magic number tends to be under 50 kg for women and under 75 kg for men. One must eat below 2,000 calories daily to come in under this weight. This is because of all the training you will do to prepare for your auditions. This is the unfortunate side of the K-Pop industry, as your appearance will influence whether or not you become a trainee. There are many articles online for those interested in the K-Pop Diet.
The good news is that you will naturally lose weight if you train daily on your dancing. It is estimated that a K-pop trainee burns over 5,000 calories a day on an average training day! Also, when you become a trainee, the Korean entertainment company will have dietitians who can help you with your diet. Also, you will be with other dieting members; therefore, they will guide you.
Wear normal comfortable clothes and minimal makeup for your audition.
Producers have said they want to TURN people into K-pop stars. They love seeing a blank canvas they can work with. Therefore, don’t wear body-altering clothes or fancy K-pop clothing. As far as makeup, it is important to have a minimalistic look. Remember, once you become a trainee, a team of makeup artists and stylists will transform you into a K-pop idol. Many think they need to wow the judges with a certain style. This is not a requirement. The focus should be on your skills. Once an Entertainment company takes you in, it will be up to them how they want you to look.
Therefore the clothes you wear should feel comfortable and allow you to perform your dance routine without restrictions. Multiple K-pop scouts have told us that what you wear during an audition is of very little importance. The same goes for hairstyles and makeup.
Apply for as many online auditions and live auditions as possible.
You need to get yourself out there as much as possible. It is purely a numbers game. Online auditions (email auditions) are easy to enter, and we suggest you enter as many as possible. Live auditions (open recruitment auditions) will eventually return, but it might be costly, especially if you travel long distances. However, if a live audition is nearby, go to it because if you are one of the top winners, you can immediately become a trainee.
We suggest you visit all the Korean Entertainment company’s websites and make a calendar to see when the next audition occurs. Most K-pop entertainment companies look at each other’s schedules to avoid conflict. Therefore you will not be in many situations where you must choose one company’s audition over the other. With so many Kpop Entertainment companies, attending at least one Kpop audition per week is possible.
We recommend you check back weekly, as companies regularly update their site with the latest news regarding tryouts and auditions. Since K-pop is becoming more and more global, global live auditions are happening all over the world.
What to expect at K-pop auditions.
There used to be the top 3, but now it is the top 4. HYBE, JYP Entertainment, SM Entertainment, and YG Entertainment. Competition to be a trainee at these K-pop entertainment companies will be intense. Thousands apply, and only 1-2 will be selected as trainees. HYBE focuses primarily on boy groups and is the toughest company to enter into. They give a lot of attention to one group and promote that particular group. As with the case of BTS.
For all auditions, you must fill out an audition application (like a resume) form a few days before the audition. You will be in a practice room with many people on the audition day. Then they will bring out a list of names to let you know when you will enter another room to audition. The audition differs for every company but usually requires you to introduce yourself, perform 1-2 songs, and do one dance choreography. Judges will not give feedback for this audition, so if they like, you will get a call back for a second-round audition or tell you what to improve on. Round 2 consists of 15-20 people, and each must sing in a recording studio to perform one song.
Some K-Pop entertainment companies prefer group auditions. This means around 10 people enter the audition room, and from there, they each choose to sing, rap, or dance. Based on this, they will call back to request a second audition.
Where to apply for K-pop auditions.
- Big Hit Entertainment (HYBE) auditions are here!
- JYP Entertainment auditions are here!
- SM Entertainment auditions are here!
- YG Entertainment auditions are here!
- FNC Entertainment auditions are here!
- Cube Entertainment auditions are here!
- Woollim Entertainment auditions are here!
- Pledis Entertainment auditions are here!
- Starship Entertainment auditions are here!
- Top Media Entertainment auditions are here!
- Jellyfish Entertainment auditions are here!
- Mystic Entertainment auditions are here!
- DSP Media auditions are here!
- Fantagio Music auditions are here!
- KQ Entertainment auditions are here!
- BrandNew Music auditions are here!
- C9 Entertainment auditions are here!
These are just a few; many small to medium Kpop Entertainment companies exist.
Applying for K-pop Reality Shows.
Another method would be to audition for K-pop reality shows. Many might not realize this, but Big Bang, Twice, and Wanna One came from K-pop Idol reality shows. These shows showcased their skills and shared their day-to-day schedule with the audience from the moment they began their training to their debut.
The top channel in Korea is Mnet, Korea’s version of MTV. When auditioning for these programs, your “story” goes a long way in getting on their program. Since they are a TV show, they want to showcase your story more than your talent. When applying these K-pop reality shows, have a compelling story.
Some of their K-pop reality shows on Mnet are listed below.
- Produce X 101
- Produce 48
- Superstar K
- Show me the money
- Girls from Abroad
SBS also has its Kpop reality show called Kpop Star. The show brought judges from SM, JYP, YG, and a producer from Kpop Star.
KBS2 – The Unit is an Idol Rebooting Project where idols who have already debuted are given a second chance to showcase their talents to form another male or female group.
Naver V Live/ Naver TV – Exo’s “Heart 4 U” was one of the first idol reality shows to break free from the TV platform completely and was only released through Naver V Live and Naver TV.
There are many reasons to choose online platforms like YouTube over traditional TV channels. TV channels were the only option for many K-pop artists and groups in the past. Then online platforms became an additional option, finally becoming the preferable option. It is much more flexible in the initial planning stages and after the content has been posted to export to overseas platforms. In addition, audiences all around the world can log on much easier. Therefore this will lead to a larger global exposure, something BTS has done very well. BTS used these platforms to communicate with its fans.
Learn from every audition.
From the former K-pop stars we spoke to, it took, on average, 8-10 auditions before they got accepted. This is because they got a lot of valuable feedback from producers and judges. Therefore, take what they say and incorporate it into your next audition. If you pass an audition, you must pass some more (usually 2-3 more). Then you will become a trainee and, with a lot of hard work, will be on your way to becoming a K-pop star. It is a good rule that after 20 auditions and you have made zero progress, that is a clear early sign you won’t make it.
How to be a K-pop Entertainment Influencer
Those out there might not want to join one of the top K-pop entertainment companies. The truth is that once you join one of those companies, you lose a lot of freedom and your creative voice. That is the sacrifice many artists have to make when entering this industry. However, there are other options. There is currently a huge market for influencer marketing. The industry is expected to reach $20 billion by 2024. K-pop influencers draw in a lot of views. A company in Korea can help you become a K-pop influencer.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Become a K-pop Idol.
What is a typical Live K-pop Audition like?
This is different for every single K-Pop Entertainment company. However, a rough estimate is that for singing, you will get to sing for 30 seconds. You will be with around five other applicants. For a dance audition, you will be with a group of 5, and you all will dance to one song. Again this is not for every Entertainment company. However, this is pretty standard.
What is required in an online audition?
The typical requirement is to fill out their application form, upload your profile picture or pictures, and upload or send a singing, dancing, or rapping video (around 2 minutes).
How long do I have to be a trainee?
A lot of luck and work ethic are involved. However, there have been cases of people only training for a few months and others as trainees for ten years. The average length is around three years.
What is a typical schedule like as a trainee?
Again this is different for every K-pop Entertainment company. So we will lay out a typical day based on a collective average of all agencies. Since most trainees are students, they must go to school first, which usually ends around 4 pm.
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – They will start to train at their company’s training center. This is where they will turn over their cellphone. They will practice their singing and dancing during this time.
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm – This will be their dinner time. Most K-pop trainees will have a strict diet so the foods will be low-carb meals like salads or soups.
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm – They will have this time to study. The study could include learning a new language, personality training, and sex education. This does not include their school study.
10:00 pm – Midnight – The trainees will have free time. However, in most cases, this is not free as they must use it for their school studies or practice more. Some stay up until 1 to 2 am.
Depending on the K-pop entertainment company, the trainees will either go home or go to their dorm, which will be filled with at least four other trainees.
What are some things you are banned from doing as a K-pop Trainee?
Some of the typical bans are as follows:
- Social Media
At what age should I give up becoming a K-pop star?
If you are a K-pop Entertainment company trainee about to turn 25 years old. This would be a good time to quit. It is almost impossible to debut by this age since more groups are debuting at a younger age each year.
Do I need to have pale/light skin?
Yes. There is a reason why most K-pop stars have pale/light skin. You can have darker skin, but this is typically not the norm.
Do I need to speak Korean well?
This is not a requirement. However, mastering the Korean language would be a huge bonus if you are not Korean. Koreans love foreigners who take the time to learn Korean. Look at Lisa from BLACKPINK. So no, you don’t have to have a Korean surname, be Korean, or speak Korean well to be a Kpop star.
Can I become a K-Pop star if I am from another country?
Yes! K-pop Entertainment companies travel the world looking for new talent. Of course, you will need to have “the look.” This means you have to look somewhat Korean and be attractive. The reason why K-pop entertainment companies go to other countries is that they want that market. Countries get behind K-pop groups if one of their own has made the group. This is a recent trend because, in the past, K-pop Entertainment companies only focused on China and Japan. Now they are looking all around the world.
How many “Rookie Groups” end up making it big?
There are so many K-pop Entertainment companies out there besides the Big 3. All combined, they produce hundreds of groups per year. Out of all that, only about 10-15 groups will become known to a reasonably sized audience. The rest end up disbanding within the first year of their debut.
If you are lucky to make it big, you will make millions of dollars. Groups like BTS, SNSD, BIG BANG, and BLACKPINK brought in an insane amount of money from their Entertainment companies. Each member made at least $1 million a year. This does not include endorsement deals that could bring them millions of dollars.
According to the Korean National Tax Service: The top K-pop stars (Top 1%) averaged a $3 million yearly salary. The mid-tier K-pop stars (10%) averaged around $600,000 a year. The remaining 89% average around $10,000 a year.
How long will it take to determine if I passed my K-pop Audition?
It will take less than a week. We have spoken to some trainees who got notified that day. These scouts know what they want and will notify you that you have passed within a matter of days. After a week, if you don’t hear anything, you do not pass. They don’t notify you that you DIDN’T pass because this would take too long for them. This is why you should never put all your eggs in one basket. Try out for as many K-pop auditions as possible. The companies realize that most do, so they want to notify you immediately if you have passed.