A South Korean artist made a surprising announcement last Tuesday night at the Korean Music Awards that left an entire audience bewildered.
Indie folk singer Lee Lang. recipient of the Best Folk Song Award for the single “Playing God”, casually auctioned off her trophy to the highest bidder during her acceptance speech, Kore.Am reports.
In her speech, Lang told the audience that her total income in January was less than $400, which she reveals was barely enough for her rent which is about $450. She said she was thankful that she earned about $850 in February.
“I would have been very grateful if a cash prize came with this award, but it doesn’t, so I think I will need to sell [this trophy],” Lang said.
While she said the award would make a “great interior piece,” she went on to be the auctioneer of her own trophy.
“I’m not sure how much it cost to make this trophy, but I need to make rent, so let’s begin the bidding at $450,” Lang announced. “Anyone?”
One man took a bid and bought the award.
“This is a historical moment,” the MC commented. “A Korean Music Awards trophy is being exchanged for cash.”
The crowd cheered as the man went to the stage and acquired the prestigious item.
— FNMNL (@fnmnltv) March 4, 2017
While it may seem like a publicity stunt for some, Lang’s speech reflects the financial difficulties among similar artists in the country.
According to KoreaExpose, musicians get only a tiny fraction from their online music sales. A single song in Korea costs around is 700 won ($0.62), and after the distribution companies get their share, the artists get an average of 300 won. Streaming a song would yield a musician about 4.2 won (a third of a cent).
Lee Lang, who has released two full-length albums, capped her speech with a simple yet meaningful statement: “Thank you. I have earned both prestige and money today.”