Flo, owned by SK Telecom, is one of the main music streaming services in South Korea. It used to run a near-real-time chart (updated hourly) showing what the most popular songs were on the platform. That has now been replaced by a new Flo Chart that updates every 24 hours that allows it to use artificial intelligence tools to sweep the day’s streaming numbers and weed out any irregular or suspicious activity.
“The previous hourly updated real-time chart had been criticized as being out of contact with reality, having been distorted in many different ways,” is how the company explained it, in a report by the Yonhap News Agency.
At the NY:LON Connect event in New York in January, the importance and the speed of the charts in South Korea were discussed in detail. “Korea is a very chart-oriented country: people like to lean back and listen to what others are listening to,” said Sun Lee, YouTube’s head of music content partnerships and subscriptions for Korea and Greater China, explaining that superfans of the big K-Pop acts have figured out how to capitalise on this, for example streaming a band’s new music en masse at quiet times of the day (or night) to push it to the top of the real-time charts.
As ever, the difficult question is when does superfan excitement around a new release (good!) become coordinated enough to raise the wrath of the chart regulators (bad!) in the country?