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Man behind the Korean wave talks about the way forward for Okay-pop and what aspiring artistes can do


It has been greater than 3 a long time since Soo-man Lee based SM Leisure, certainly one of South Korea’s music companies identified for bringing Okay-pop to the world.

The leisure firm, initially based as SM Studio in 1989, grew to become one of many first to kickstart the worldwide Hallyu wave — higher generally known as the Korean wave.

However Lee’s music was not at all times based mostly off Korean pop music.

“I grew to become a singer after I was 19. Though I used to be well-known, I spotted that the viewers was actually quiet after I sang as a result of I sang people songs,” he advised CNBC’s Chery Kang in an interview for The CNBC Dialog.

SM Leisure’s Soo-man Lee (fourth from the suitable) posing with Okay-pop supergroup SuperM.

Gabriel Olsen | Getty Pictures Leisure | Getty Pictures

“However when international bands come to [South Korea to] carry out, they utterly took over the stage and followers went wild. After I went to take a look at the live performance, it appeared just like the followers had been extra enthusiastic than in mine,” stated Lee, who’s founding chairman of the corporate.

A imaginative and prescient for Okay-pop is born

Lee stated that is when he started to consider taking South Korea’s pop music to the world.

“As I studied within the U.S., I discovered quite a bit and thought it could be good to advertise Korean songs and singers abroad. That is the beginning [of SM Entertainment].”

Through the years, the 70-year-old developed a system he calls “tradition know-how” — by which he recruited and nurtured expertise in a scientific manner of casting, coaching, producing, and administration.

The system is behind the tune manufacturing of SM Leisure’s Okay-pop high bands — resembling Tremendous Junior, Women’ Era and Crimson Velvet. 

Why the Korean wave is more than BTS or Blackpink

“There’s a written ‘tradition know-how’ guide someplace in my workplace,” he stated, explaining that it combines each tradition and know-how in a “logically formulized” manner.

“The guide will permit workers to study and switch ‘know-how’ out of it. As a result of I am an engineer, it’s to be understood by logic. It lays out formulation,” Lee stated, sharing that he has a Grasp’s diploma in laptop engineering.

“So, I can say that I’m an engineer fairly than an artiste.”

We must be at that world class stage, and we’re specializing in what’s lacking and what sort of distinctions we will make…

Soo-man Lee

Founder, SM Leisure

At the same time as SM Leisure’s music continues to go world, Lee says it is necessary to repeatedly innovate and keep forward of the competitors within the music business.

“We must be at that world class stage, and we’re specializing in what’s lacking and what sort of distinctions we will make” from different genres of music,” he advised CNBC.

Lee works with producers and songwriters from the U.Okay. and U.S. on accompaniments, observe songs, kick drum and bass, which he adapts to South Korean and Asian tradition.

As for the importance of China’s affect within the Okay-pop business, Lee admits that cash could have a “highly effective affect,” however stated he stays assured creativity that comes from producing could have “infinite worth.”

SM Leisure has represented Okay-pop artists like boy band Tremendous Junior.

Chung Sung-jun | Getty Pictures Leisure | Getty Pictures

The difficulty of psychological well being is one thing that is still a spotlight for his firm, Lee says.

“‘Be humble, be form and be the love’ is what we educate our skills and folks in SM … Issues are quite a bit higher now and world administration corporations are attempting to find out about it.”

Lee additionally stated his firm is “connecting them to counselors and docs in order that they’ll get assist anytime. We could not have the identical economies of scale like CNBC, however we discovered these items are crucial.”

Way forward for Okay-pop

As for the way forward for Okay-pop, “I feel the metaverse that everybody is speaking about today is the long run,” Lee says.

SM Leisure established a metaverse world referred to as SM Culture Universe, and launched its first metaverse girl band, Aespa in 2020. The group is made up of 4 real-life members – Karina, Winter, Ning Ning, and Giselle – and their corresponding digital counterparts.

SM Leisure established a metaverse world referred to as SM Tradition Universe, and launched its first metaverse woman band, Aespa in 2020.

Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Pictures Leisure | Getty Pictures

“SM Leisure is constructing ‘Play-2-Create’… folks can uncover their inventive facet and create within the metaverse. They are going to understand, ‘Oh, I can create. I could make music. I can create dance strikes. I could make garments. I can type artists.'”

To understand the idea of “Play-2-Create,” the corporate partnered with metaverse corporations like The Sandbox earlier this 12 months.

Gamers can create NFTs and video games surrounding “Okay-content” in SMTOWN LAND, a digital land in The Sandbox underneath SM Leisure. NFTs are non-fungible tokens that are distinctive digital property, like paintings and sports activities buying and selling playing cards, which can be saved utilizing blockchain know-how.

Lee believes that any nation can create one thing as profitable as Okay-pop, however the metaverse will likely be key.

“You can not create a style by copying Okay-pop. Everybody will view it as Okay-pop. Now, you could present it within the metaverse.”

With out your self within the mirror, you don’t have any thought what you’d seem like when dancing, even if you happen to danced actually arduous…

Soo-man Lee

Founder, SM Leisure

“I feel we simply have to let the followers turn out to be producers and customers on the identical time. Allow them to create… Younger folks could have the massive satisfaction of creation and can find yourself creating huge quantities of mental property and content material.”

For these aspiring to turn out to be Okay-pop artists some day, Lee has this piece of recommendation: “Self-assessment is essential.”

“With out your self within the mirror, you don’t have any thought what you’d seem like when dancing, even if you happen to danced actually arduous … It’s when you may see and really feel what you do not do properly that you simply study.”

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