Sound City Korea


Since September 2015, Sound City have taken 15 artists over to MUCON and Zandari Festivals – South Korea’s biggest industry showcases which take place in Hongdae, Seoul.  


Year 1: 2015:

Sound City supported 6 artists: Chelou, Hyde and Beast, Fizzy Blood, Natalie McCool, Johnny Sands, Tea Street Band to showcase

The Zandari and MUCON showcases had a real impact in terms of discovery and networking – delegates said the showcase enabled them to see English artists they had never heard before 

Sound City Korea is making an impact in a new culturally alien territory


Having been involved in Sound City Korea acts as a distinguishing kite mark for the artists, with Natalie McCool, Johnny Sands, and Fizzy Blood manager Brendan Walsh, all providing examples of how their involvement in Sound City Korea continues to act as a kind of kite mark, giving them added kudos when dealing with other UK-based and international promoters and other artists


Across two labels and one management company, interviewees estimate that Sound City Korea will generate an additional £50K+ for the 4 artists concerned over the next 2 years. 


“In terms of myself as a manager and a young music business professional, it was probably the most valuable experience of my career to date. It was incredibly valuable to learn about how a foreign market digests, distributes and operates first hand. Korea’s music industry is not built or ran in the same way as the traditional European territories and there are not many other people in my position that are aware of this or have had the chance to learn that from being in Korea”

Brendan Walsh – Manager, Fizzy Blood


Year 2: 2017:

Sound City took She Drew the Gun, I Set the Sea on Fire, Shakka, Elle Exxe, Atlas Wynd, Sugarmen, Coquin Migale to do showcases at MUCON and Zandari including a Sound City showcase


Bookers who saw the artists have a combined audience reach of 3.2 million across markets including China, Korea, South Korea, Thailand, Mongolia, Russia, Germany, Spain, Serbia, Denmark

The showcase will unlock a total industry spend of $146k USD on the artists (the hub evaluation)


Kelly Munro, who manages Coquin Migale, listed the higher visibility and credibility that being part of the showcase gave the band as one of the three most important impacts the project had (along with networking and the experience it gave the band). “Everyone thinks it’s great that you went”, he said, “It’s another really important brick in the wall”. Off the back of SCK, the band went on to secure a European agent, something which Kelly attributes to a sense of “critical mass” created by having been part of SCK. 


Meanwhile, all of the participants reported that their social media profiles in Korea and other territories in Asia had increased during their time at SCK and subsequently. Most teams reported seeing an increase in follower numbers on platforms such as Facebook and Soundcloud, with those who were particularly active while they were out there garnering large numbers of likes too. As an example, I Set The Sea on Fire saw the profile of their social media followers shift from being pretty much exclusively UK and US (90% UK/10% US) to something more like 75% UK / 10% US / 5% Korea / 5% Japan / 5% Philippines.   


This increase in fan base is something that participants are building on already, with those artists with licensing deals and representation in Korea, such as Elle Exxe and I Set The Sea On Fire, in particular using it to drive new fans to online content and to deepen their relationship with them. 


I Set The Sea on Fire have secured an exclusive licensing deal for one year with the Leeway label in Seoul, with an automatic renewal option if the band want to go for that. Beyond this their rep has also been busy trying to secure deals in other Asian territories, including China, Japan and the Philippines, as well as in Mongolia. As yet, these haven’t resulted in any concrete deals, but his eye is now firmly on new Asian markets. 


Elle Exxe’s team have also been able to negotiation worldwide representation with Marshall Artists, partly off the back of the SCK trip, which will open up a number of new touring territories to them.   


She Drew The Gun report having secured management partially off the back of their participation, citing it as one of the recent developments that swung Ignition’s decision to take on the band. 


They are currently negotiating a licensing deal with Chilli Music label in Korea, and with Friendly Fire Records, based in the US, both of which they attribute to having been part of SCK. The same is true of The Sugarmen’s management, who are also currently negotiating licensing deal with a label in the region. 


Shakka has been invited to perform at MIDEM, as a direct result of his manager connecting with the MIDEM team while at Zandari Festival. 


“We’ve always seen Shakka as an artist with global appeal, and the trip to Korea solidified that for us. The fact he connected with a crowd who don’t speak the same language was mindblowing and very encouraging.”

Nike Durosaro, manager, Shakka


“It’s really good to have on the PR and everything else that we’ve played Korea and connected really well with fans and promoters…. We had a phenomenal reaction from fans, people coming up to us afterwards….The challenge was getting there in the first place. Now when the time is right, we’ll have Warners’ support. We did this so we can go back to Warners and say we have this fan base”. 

Danny Watson, Manager, Sugarmen


“We have been speaking to various companies, but one of the most exciting is the conversation with Lili from Split United, who are looking into getting Atlas Wynd over for a string of festival dates in China, including Grass and Concrete Festival.”

Band member, Atlas Wynd



Artist interviews at Zandari:


WATCH Coquin Migale interview here

WATCH She Drew the Gun interview here


Artist Interviews after Zandari:


Coquin Migale

-     Tell us a bit about the showcase… what was it like? what was the audience like? how many people were there? 

Great venue and audience. Seemed a few hundred there.

-     How was it different from a showcase in the uk? 

Language barrier of course, but apart from that it was quite similar.

-     (How) was it different to what you expected? 

I didn't know what to expect so cant comment here!

-     What’s already happened as a result? who have you talked with and met? which business opportunities have you followed up and what are the next steps?

There have been a number of connections made. These will come into fruition the coming months.

-     What difference do you think/hope this will make for the artists you’re representing here? 

Its good for the band to play outside of UK which they will be doing next year. And a slot for the band at a festival like this in conjunction with Liverpool Sound City is a great thing for them to be doing.

-     What’s your main take away from your experience? what have you learned? who have you met? what do you think might/hope will happen next as a result? 

I truly great experience.. I've met a lot of great people/contacts. Hopefully some connections made that will help myself, my label and my bands.

Thanks again guys x


I Set the Sea on Fire


-     Tell us a bit about the showcase… what was it like? what was the audience like? how many people were there? 

The showcase was amazing. The preparations were well made and everything was prepared for. The audience was also very great, comprised of people from all over the world, the audience were very positively receptive of I Set The Sea On Fire.


-     How was it different from a showcase in the uk? 

The crowd. The audience were made up of people that were engulfed in the atmosphere of Zandari and Hongdae, and the mood was more focused, but at the same time more laid back due to the atmosphere.


-     (How) was it different to what you expected? 

I was not expecting the people in the city to be as eager to help us out, or point us in the right direction. Clearly the UK has a different view of tourists than Seoul. I was expecting a smaller crowd at both the gigs, made up of mainly delegates and other bands, but the Korean public really padded out the venues.


-     What’s already happened as a result? who have you talked with and met? which business opportunities have you followed up and what are the next steps?

Well as a direct result the I Set The Sea On Fire social media pages have been abuzz with activity and congratulations, interaction has risen majorly and the internal atmosphere of the band is much better. Personally, I met with and discussed future plans with Dan from Friendly Fire Licensing, the owners of Play Time Festival in Mongolia, Jamie Patillas from Live Nation Spain, Igor and Alina from VROX Festival, Vladivostok, and many people who just generally loved the band. I will be sending albums to all these people and connecting with them to further discuss business plans.


-     What difference do you think/hope this will make for the artists you’re representing here? 

I Set The Sea On Fire have bonded as a group due to their time in Seoul, and with me as well. Our minds have been broadened to new horizons. It is my hope that Zandari Festa will sow the seeds for future overseas showcases and festivals, and will further enhance their credibility as a band worthy of playing events like SXSW.


-     What’s your main take away from your experience? what have you learned? who have you met? what do you think might/hope will happen next as a result?  

My personal take away from Zandari is the knowledge that language isn’t a barrier when music is involved. All nationalities and backgrounds share a love of music. I have met people that I will definitely be meeting again, and not only spreading the word of ISTSOF, but generally seeing the world.


She Drew the Gun MP3 





- Did the artist you're working with have any previous international work/previous experience, played in any overseas showcases before? Which, and how did that come about? 

Shakka toured for 3 years globally with the Basement Jaxx as their lead vocalist and that came about as he was recommended to them by Vula Malinga (singer/songwriter).

Prior to Korea Shakka had also performed at SXSW in Austin Texas in 2016. This came about as SBTV had a stage and invited Shakka to perform and the PRS foundation provided some funding for the trip. 

- What about you, what kind of international experience did you have prior to being part of Sound City Korea?

Prior to Korea, I had only had experience of managing the SXSW shows that Shakka took part in. I appointed the tour manager and worked with him on budgets. I applied for PRS Foundation funding and worked with Shakka with set list for shows, styling and press.


We’re keen to know more about the contacts you made in Korea, and what the impact of that has been….


  • It’d be great to know who you met while you were out there, if/how you’ve followed up on that, and what’s come about as a result?

Met Elle Exxe's manager Umong Shah and we've exchanged information and contacts since. We also met a Korean band called The Koxx who reached out to Shakka after his performance and said that they wanted to collaborate and so they plan to do that shortly.


I also attended a session on other international festivals/ conferences including MIDEM and subsequently applied for MIDEM on the accelerator program.

  • Where the relationship is still in its early days, how do you anticipate these playing out over the next 2 years? We know it can take time for these things to come good…

A collaboration with a Korean band will hopefully increase Shakka's visibility in that market and create new opportunities and bookings.

  • Summing up the impact the trip has had and you expect it to have in terms of expanding your contacts, networks and markets, how would you describe this? 

Worthwhile trip, it opened our eyes to this market. Shakka's music was extremely well received and made us realise that we could actually build his profile in Korea. Shakka has been chosen to perform at MIDEM (not announced yet) and I was encouraged to apply for this at MU:CON after meeting MIDEM staff.

  • If there are any other areas of impact, for instance, on artists' attitudes, behaviour, confidence, or perhaps in terms of your thinking about working internationally, or your skills/confidence etc, it would be great to get some feedback about this too. 

Yes we've always seen Shakka as an artist with global appeal and the trip to Korea solidified that for us. The fact he connected with a crowd who dont speak the same language was mind blowing and very encouraging.

  • Can you tell me about anything that’s come about as a result of meeting the other people from the UK who were also part of the trip?

Yes Umong Shah & I have become friends and will be collaborating together going forwards.

  • What could we do to make our next showcasing opportunity in Korea better for those who take part?

Clearer information about networking sessions and perhaps hold your own networking session where UK artists can meet local artists and discuss collabs. Also invite labels/ publishers/ promoters/ music supervisors etc.


Line up radio promo ahead of shows?


  • How could we help you further to capitalise on your trip last year?

Any access to MU:CON attendees email addresses? They all enjoyed the show so it would be great to be able to send them Shakka newsletters. 

  • And more generally, are there things you’d like to see Sound City doing in the future to help you and/or other emerging artists/music businesses in the UK?

Yes, supporting artists going to Japan, China, Sweden & Germany. 



South Korean Etiquette Guide

  • Many South Koreans shake hands with expatriates after the bow, thereby blending both cultural styles.

  • Wait to be introduced at a social gathering.

  • When you leave a social gathering, say goodbye to each person individually.

  • Drink a lot with them ;)

Gift Giving Etiquette (To be used when exchanging promo CD’s, T-shirts Business cards etc)

  • Gifts express a great deal about a relationship and are always reciprocated.

  • Use both hands when offering a gift. / when giving / receiving anything

  • Gifts are not opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

  • The eldest are served first.

  • Never point your chopsticks.

  • Do not pierce your food with chopsticks.

  • Wherever you see a "No Tipping" sign, do not tip. Koreans find tipping offensive, although tipping

    is now becoming expected in Western hotels.

Hongdae Hangouts:

  • Strangefruit

  • Club FF (Late night party)

  • Racoon Cafe





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