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[Herald Interview] SM subsidiary KMR aims to broaden K-pop spectrum

May 26, 2024 - 20:17 By Hong Yoo
Choi Jin-suk, global A&R executive of Kreation Music Rights (Im Se-jun/ The Korea Herald)

Even as K-pop giant Hybe’s multilabel system is being tested by the ongoing feud with the CEO of one of its subsidiaries, Ador’s Min Hee-jin, the longest-standing K-pop agency, SM Entertainment is forging ahead with establishing its own multilabel system, dubbed “SM 3.0.”

SM 3.0 focuses on broadening the spectrum of K-pop, according to Choi Jin-suk, global A&R executive of Kreation Music Rights (KMR), a music publishing subsidiary of SM Entertainment.

“Within KMR there are various CICs, including Smashhit, led by chief producer Kangta, The Hub and Monotree. Each producing company has unique musical characteristics and the synergy created by its producers is unique. This will be the basis of our effort to offer our listeners a broad spectrum of music,” said Choi in an interview with The Korea Herald.

KMR was launched last September as part of the SM 3.0 project.

As of May 2024, KMR has amassed some 150 songwriters, making it the largest company of its kind in the K-pop industry.

Choi introduces KMR as a place for nurturing musical inspiration, where music producers can freely communicate about music.

“We make music together, listen to each other’s work and give genuine feedback. I am trying to build a community of music producers here," he said, adding, "I want music producers to share their enthusiasm and create an environment of co-prosperity.”

Choi is also a music producer with 70 No. 1 placements on various Billboard charts. His recent works include NCT U’s “Baggy Jeans,” aespa’s “Spicy” and NCT 127’s “Simon Says.”

Choi Jin-suk, global A&R executive of Kreation Music Rights (Im Se-jun/ The Korea Herald)

Choi is also greatly interested in nurturing talented music producers in Korea.

The veteran of nearly 20 years said, "I mostly work with foreign music producers. But, I want to create more opportunities to work with Korean music producers because I want to share my passion and energy with junior colleagues in the country,” said Choi.

“In the past, K-pop agencies used to buy good sources from Western music producers. This is not enough anymore. We need innovative and creative work, which I believe can be made through collaboration between foreign and local talent," he said.

The K-pop industry still has the potential to grow if it continues experimenting with diverse music sources, Choi pointed out.

“K-pop is the only music genre that is seeing a continuous increase in physical album sales, so it’s a dream market for music producers. Ten years ago, there was a shared catalog of K-pop songs from which agencies would choose for new albums. If a song were not picked up by one label, it would be picked up by another because K-pop groups back then were not all that different from one another, " said Choi.

“Now, however, each K-pop group has its own story and unique characteristics. This allows music producers to break free from their shells and approach music with innovative creativity, thus broadening the spectrum of K-pop," Choi said.

"I hope to contribute by inspiring our music producers in this way as long as time allows,” he said.