Major K-Pop agency SM Entertainment has announced new albums of SHINee, New group EXO-K, SNSD's TaeTiSeo, f(x), Super Junior this year. Among these groups, only EXO-K's title song "Mama" was produced by Yoo Youngjin and other songs such as SHINee's "Sherlock," TaeTiSeo's "Twinkle," f(x)'s "Electric Shock," Super Junior's "Sexy, Free & Single" are all produced by foreign composers.
Foreign composers are going rampage in the entertainment world. It's not just SM Entertainment. Son Dambi, After School's agency Pledis also got its new group NU'EST's debut song "Face" from a foreign composer, and many other agencies are currently co-operating or contacting foreign composers. What would be the reason for K-Pop agencies to desperately seeking foreign composers?
How are agencies getting songs from the foreign composer?
Before we look at why foreign composers are popular in K-Pop, we first need to see how their songs are going into K-Pop world.
Firstly, foreign composers from Sony, Universal, Warner Music and other foreign music publishing company are often selling songs to Korea. An associate said "publishing companies consider selling their composers songs as a big part of their business. It's a chance for them to sell songs and advertise their composers."
Another route is to attending International Music exposition Midem in Cannes, France and directly contacting potential foreign composers and songs. An associate from an agency currently working with a foreign song said "I'm attending Midem and other international music expositions every year to find potential foreign composers and songs." SM Entertainment has been co-operating with foreign composers since group H.O.T. and S.E.S. and currently working with over 450 foreign composers. SM Entertainment is not only attending Midem, but also holding its own festival to invite foreign composers.
SM Entertainment said "Last year when we had SM Town concert in Paris, France, we held a conference with hundreds of European composers. Also, we hold 'Lighting Camp' where we introduce music styles and artists of SM's taste to foreign composers. Because K-Pop is famous globally, many foreign composers are coming to give our artists songs."
Recently, not only via agency's email, but also through Facebook and Twitter, foreign composers are contacting K-Pop agencies, hoping to work with them. The associate also said "Not only from U.S., but also from Netherland, England, and other European composers are contacting us often. In many cases they send us songs as well, but we always seriously consider if we can apply Korean feeling into."
Limitation in Korean market, financial benefit, K-Pop boom
Regarding foreign composers boom, an entertainment associate analyzed it as "a solution to develop many kinds of route to collect songs." There are limit on composers who can write a hit song and number of songs they can produce, so agencies look for foreign composers to fill the gap. An associate said "it's almost impossible to get a song from well-known composers" and "certain composers are working with certain agencies' artists as teams so it makes us harder to get songs from them. So we turned ourselves to foreign composers."
Financial benefit is also a big factor as well. Famous composers usually take a contract per an album. An entertainment associate said agencies pay about 35,000 ~45,000 dollar per a mini album. Even if the agency knows a composer personally, it costs about 9,000 dollar per a song. But for foreign composers, it costs usually 3000~7000 dollar.
There is an opinion saying that it's because of Korean Wave. An associate from an agency that has a close relationship with global market said "as K-Pop became popular, foreign composers consider working with Korean artists as an opportunity to appeal themselves to not only Asia, but Europe, South America and other places."
There is an opinion saying that it's more of a progress of the music market uniting as one. An associate explained that "publishing companies not only selling their composers' songs, but also selling Korean composers' songs to foreign countries. Not only songs but choreography as well. You know recently famous idol groups worked with Beyonce's choreography? It's all part of the progress. Boundaries among markets are slowly fading off."
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