[The United States Treasury Building]
Let's face it, government bail-outs are just about the trendiest thing since the Snuggie. Even South Korea has jumped onto the bail-out train, and it's not to help finance companies or automakers or fat guys in suits smoking cigars -- they're giving a boost to their ailing music industry to the tune of $91 million.
In times this tough, everyone is looking for a little extra help -- even the porn industry, bless their little hearts -- but when congress opened its checkbook for the auto industry, it issued an open invitation for begging. It's like reaching for your wallet while a homeless man is walking through your subway car. You've just committed, and there's a line forming, so you'd better have enough spare change for everyone.
So why shouldn't the music industry be those beggars? South Korea definitely got this one right. The country's Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry plans to create a Korean version of the U.S. Billboard Charts, as well as a Grammy-like awards program to put Korean pop music on the global stage.
They're hoping the five-year plan will double the country's annual sales to 1.7 trillion won (about $1.2 billion) by 2013. The plan also calls for two new concert halls in Seoul, specializing in pop music and offering 4,000 seats total, and a Korean pop culture center in Goyang City, about 25 miles north of Seoul, including a 3,000-seat concert hall.
And in case you were worried, fear not -- that greatest of Asian musical traditions has not been left out. The plan also calls for the government to provide karaoke equipment to 35,000 noraebangs (karaoke bars without booze) across the country.
The best part of all this is that the primary push behind the stimulus plan is that the Korean pop market has suffered since 2000 due to the spread of illegal downloading. Isn't that a problem we've been trying to solve, too? So get on it, Congress. Throw musicians some cash. We promise not to fly in our private jets to meet with you. This is mostly because we do not have private jets, but that could be part of the musician's stimulus package -- we're not ruling it out.