MU:CON 2022 Music Show Brings Industry Experts Together to Talk K-pop Expansion

On the second day of MU:CON 2022, an open session themed “Powerful Players Bringing Korea to the World Stage” was held on Nodeul Island in Yongsan District, central Seoul. . [HALEY YANG]

MU:CON 2022 kicked off Wednesday on Nodeul Island in Seoul’s central Yongsan district. The music fair offers live performances by a long list of artists, discussion sessions and business workshops over a three-day period.

Organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca), MU:CON aims to serve as a bridge for global music exchange and business opportunities since its launch in 2012. This year, the show is finally back offline for the first time since 2019.

During the second day of the show, MU:CON held an open session with the theme “Powerful Players Bringing Korea to the World Stage”. The session was moderated by Priya Dewan, founder of music consultancy Gig Life Pro, who has over 18 years of experience helping music businesses grow globally in the Asia-Pacific market. Pacific; speakers Tom Windish, executive vice president and head of business development and A&R at Wasserman Music; Tricia Arnold, senior vice president and global label management and sales at global music distributor The Orchard; and Han Kyoo Moon, managing partner of entertainment company UC Global. The four got together to discuss global expansion and K-pop distribution.

“They [participants in the session] all come from very different backgrounds, but they have all helped Korean artists meet a global audience,” Dewan said.

“I started working with Korean artists about 10 years ago,” said Windish, a veteran booking agent who developed the touring careers of big names like Billie Eilish and Lorde. “I get excited when I hear things that are unlike anything I’ve heard before. Korea has a lot of unique things. One of the first [Korean] the artist I started working with was Hyukoh. They are unique, amazing and know how to show off.

“Many of them [in the U.S. music industry] I thought it was too much work to bring an Asian artist to the United States for a tour,” he continued, “but I thought those artists were awesome,”

Speakers witnessed the steady yet dramatic rise in global popularity of K-pop.

“The Orchard has been looking for different opportunities in different regions for a long time,” Arnold said. “But when Korean music started showing up on my radar, it was like 2015. When you’re working with stuff in different languages ​​and you see peaks happening in places like Latin America, you think” What is happening here? There was something resonating with audiences in different countries, even if they don’t understand the language. I thought there was a real opportunity here. It was not just a niche or within the Korean diaspora. Something real was happening.

“There are people in all corners of the world who don’t necessarily understand the language but still find [the music] resonate with them,” she continued. “We found very early adapters in Latin America, Brazil and Mexico. Of course, the catch-up has been a little slower in the United States, but it has also become an important market. And K-pop has grown in Europe and the Middle East where things really resonate there.

Han Kyoo Moon has been working on introducing foreign music to the Korean market for over a decade. He and his company brought electronic dance music (EDM) festival Ultra to Korea for the first time in 2012. He now strives to bring artists from around the world to the Korean music scene.

“A good friend of mine was importing music shows from the United States to Korea, and he saw electronic music gaining momentum in the Korean scene,” he said. “In 2012, there were only three or four EDM festivals in Asia: in India, Malaysia and Thailand.

“The reason EDM was able to spread is because it became easier for these artists to get to these places,” Windish said, stressing the importance of efforts to connect music industries from different countries. . “It’s expensive for a group to go anywhere with people and equipment.”

Although music is a universal language, Arnold pointed out the differences that music industry insiders must navigate in order for K-pop to thrive overseas.

“The United States has become a priority market for K-pop, but there are fundamental differences in how you should release something in the United States if you’re looking for more sales or a spot on the Billboard charts,” she said. “In Korea, getting stock and distributing it there is pretty quick. But if you’re looking for global distribution, even the United States alone is a huge country. If you want your product to be on Target or Amazon, that time frame is much longer than in Korea. So it was quite a challenge. »

Nevertheless, the advancement of the Internet and global interactions has allowed artists on the other side of the world to find each other and the international music industry to be more connected than ever.

“Today I see that even though artists don’t speak each other’s language, they collaborate remotely, not really in the studio,” Moon said. “I was fascinated by it […] trying to promote each other in the fan base they have. My part – the contracts, licensing, management and legal issues – are the hard parts. But we try to meet the demands of the artist and make it happen.

BY HALEY YANG [[email protected]]

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