K-pop industry gathering provides room for communication, growth

Pop music insiders take part in a two-day music conference and consultation event titled ″M Camp″ at the YongPyong Resort in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, on Saturday. [LIAK]

PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon — The biggest gathering of musicians and insiders from the Korean pop music industry took place over the weekend under the title “M Camp” at the YongPyong Resort in Pyeongchang in an event marking the first of its kind in Korea.

The two-day seminar and consultation event was held with the goal of providing a space for communication for anyone in the pop music industry, organized by the Record Label Industry Association of Korea (LIAK) and sponsored by the Gangwon Tourism Organization and resort complex company Merlin Entertainments.

Some 500 people gathered at “M Camp,” from musicians and concert organizers to engineers and legal attorneys, to provide a sphere of open communication for all things music. The event was held for free, including a networking party on Saturday night and a single night's stay at the YongPyong Resort for all attendees. On the first day, 17 music companies sat down for eight sessions of one-on-one consultations with anyone who wished to participate. The companies included concert organizer Roxtamuzik, music distributor Mirrorball Music, indie label Munhwain and music intellectual property (IP) management company Beyond Music.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity for people like me, because we don't get to see so many insiders all at once. And the fact that they provide a space for us to sit down and talk to them is great for indie musicians like myself,” indie singer-songwriter Greenrose told the Korea JoongAng Daily.

“The fact that people from all diverse fields of pop music are here is really encouraging for us,” said Kang Baek-ho, president of the nonprofit artist group Team UDPM. “I hope we get more chances like this to grow and learn.”

A two-day music conference and consultation ″M Camp″ held at the YongPyong Resort in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, on Saturday. [LIAK]
A two-day music conference and consultation ″M Camp″ held at the YongPyong Resort in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, on Saturday. [LIAK]

Four speakers for the seminar were accordingly selected from different corners of the music industry in order to provide a wide range of topics to discuss: Yi Tae-heun, the deputy director of the entertainment content center at KBS; Kang Sang-wook, chief manager of a multi-channel network at Rhoonart, a company specializing in providing online management and distribution services for indie labels; Yoon Sung-won, CEO of YouTube content production company Studio Solfa; and Kwak Young-ho, CEO of music sales tracker Hanteo Chart.

“We have entered a time where the four major K-pop companies — HYBE, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and YG Entertainment — have made over 4.5 trillion won [$3.5 billion] this year,” Kwak said.

“K-pop is in fact so big that it’s no exaggeration to say that K-pop literally made Twitter and YouTube as we know them today. K-pop will grow, as it always has, but competition will get tougher. It’s important to set the right target during such times to make sure that smaller groups survive the cutthroat race.”

For content creators, especially producers seeking to make K-pop-related videos for online platforms, Yoon of Studio Solfa stressed the idea of “Twisting the tempo of what’s for granted.”

A two-day music conference and consultation ″M Camp″ held at the YongPyong Resort in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, on Saturday. [LIAK]

He runs YouTube channels ODG, film94 and Hup! and has been famed for creating videos with unique themes and over a million views, such videos that get interpreters to listen to hip-hop artists rap in English and then to try to translate on the spot or getting elementary school students to talk about love to singer-songwriters famed for their love songs.

The key lies in taking what seems ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary with the smallest tweaks, Yoon said.

“Every person is a context in themselves,” he said. “For instance, if you get an ‘ordinary’ woman to feature in the video, then you can use the stereotypes against women and have that play as the key to your video. If you get someone from Busan and have them do things that are the opposite of the things that Busan people are known for, then that’s a start.”

Next year’s event will be bigger and better, LIAK chairman Yoon Dong-hwan said.

“People have told us that they really needed a place like this, and we felt so proud,” he said. “We always feel supported by the people who join us on our challenges. We thank everyone for traveling far to Gangwon and we promise to come back with a bigger and better ‘M Camp’ next year.”