BTS→BLACKPINK·IVE… K-Pop Looks To International Songwriters
As idol fans can feel with their skin, the existence of foreign composers is no longer limited to a supporting role for domestic composers. It is not uncommon for foreign composers to take centre stage in the new songs of idol groups produced by small and medium-sized entertainment companies, and there have been reports that as many as 450 foreign composers were managed by SM Entertainment in 2012. It has already become the mainstream, so it cannot be dismissed as merely a supporting role.
An A&R team member from a famous entertainment company analysed this trend, saying, “The participation of foreign composers has increased rapidly recently. I think this is due to the increasing global interest in K-pop and the influence of increased revenue from related royalties.”
Regarding the collaboration route of foreign composers, he said, “In the past, publishers of composers mainly sent demos to each planning company in Korea, but recently, the route has been diversified, such as Korean A&R managers requesting songs from famous composers first.” He predicted that the participation of foreign composers will continue to increase in the future.
In this regard, a music industry insider pointed out the benefits of working with foreign composers, saying, “The advantage of working with foreign composers is that they have a high level of expertise in trendy genres confirmed by overseas trends, so they can secure high-quality demos. Also, in the case of famous composers or artists, it is very helpful for promoting the song.”
However, this insider also mentioned the increase in additional costs as a disadvantage, saying, “First of all, the arrangement fee is high. Sometimes, it is difficult to preserve the feeling of the original demo when translating it into Korean.” Another music industry insider who is also a foreign composer pointed out that the level of participation in music production, such as vocals and directing, is relatively low compared to Korean composers, which is a disadvantage. He said, “Because of this, there is a hassle of recruiting a domestic director. Of course, this also incurs additional costs and affects the production costs of the album.”
Despite these various opinions, it is undeniable that foreign composers have contributed to making K-pop not only for domestic consumption but also for export. We look forward to the emergence of foreign composers who can satisfy both the tastes of the domestic audience and the expectations of global fans in the future.