Interview with da Boss


I think he borrowed that suit.

So, Naver’s “Money Week” did an interview with the Seven Seasons CEOof course I had to know what it said, even though my Korean is still not really up to the task.

In some ways this translation was really difficult. I think the original prose could get florid, and I should note that I’m not making up or exaggerating the praise (at least not purposefully)–the writer really did gush at times. But then I would run into terms like “paradigm,” “media ecosystem,” or “targeting a global market,” and I would feel right at home again.

The main bit of business jargon that perplexed me is “multi-label system.” From what I’ve looked up, it’s what they call it when there are small or medium labels that a large company has invested in, but the large company does not actually own or control the smaller labels–so KQ Entertainment presumably has in investment in Seven Seasons but doesn’t necessarily run it. [ETA: That’s not right–they’re using the term here to describe a parent company (KQ Entertainment) and its subsidiaries (Seven Seasons and KQ Produce).]

I am sure that the translation is quite imperfect, so feel free to suggest corrections in the comments. Here goes!

[This Person] Now “Content Idols” Are the Trend

The entertainment industry’s very first conversion to a multi-label system, Idol group introduced a unique and powerful sound, Sweeps to #1 on the major music charts….

The idol group ‘Block B,’ belonging to the notable Seven Seasons, recently blasted in an extraordinary change. In the short three-year history of this brand-new entertainment company, such change was led by one main character, the upright CEO Kim Kyu Wook. His music distribution strategy opened a new paradigm for Seven Seasons to make the big-picture leap into ‘global content business enterprises’. The media is always changing, so in his judgement, controlling content oneself is absolutely key in these circumstances.

[Picture caption: Photo = reporter, Lim Han Byul]

  • Securing content is the main battle… ‘Multi company’

CEO Kim was originally at a media company handling video and albums, and he eventually took on the duties of a media specialist. This foot in the door allowed him to see the ordinary workings of the industry. He did trend- and content-related work, always observing media and entertainment businesses from the sidelines.

“Social media was introduced into Korea, and a personal rather than mass media-centric media ecosystem formed, various content-centric businesses developed, and potential ideas were heard. The key idea was that in order for a business based on content to operate, the source that produced the content had to maintain ownership of it.”

For Seven Seasons, the major changes appeared when the company was founded about two years ago. It took CEO Kim a year to successfully convert the company to a ‘multi-label system.’ The business structures of existing multi-label entertainment businesses were not easy to see.

[This part was really tricky. I’m assuming that a “KQ” entertainment company is a company listed on the KOSDAQ public stock exchange–i.e. one of Korea’s “Big Three” labels.] [ETA: That was dead wrong–KQ Entertainment is an actual company. I’ll revise this when I can.] [EATA: It’s done!] The simple explanation [of a multi-label system] is that Block B’s label Seven Seasons, the hip-hop label Next Level headed by the producer Shimo, and the singer-songwriters’ and producers’ label KQ Produce are three labels managed by KQ Entertainment. KQ Ent handles general management, and each label handles its own A&R and music production.

“Taking into consideration the character and strength of our company’s producers, artists, staff, and members, the multi-label organization works the best for our business. The idol group, the singer-songwriters, and the producers all go together in one picture. All the different strengths and weaknesses can complement each other in a virtuous cycle if given the proper organization.”

Change quickly led to results. He can of course boast of unique hit singles sweeping to the top of the music charts. Seven Seasons artists have put six more songs on the TOP100 chart of Melon, currently Korea’s largest music service site. And last year, Block B’s Bastarz sub-unit’s unprecedented hit single preceded solos by two Block B members–Zico and Park Kyung–that made an awesome side-by-side rise to #1 on the music charts. These results were accomplished thanks to collaboration between artists and producers, and expert know-how in different areas blending together harmoniously, CEO Kim explained.

“Zico and Park Kyung belong to the group Block B, but there’s the ‘separate and reunite’ tactic where we show the different charms, appeal, and talents of an individual, and then we’ve begun his career. Traditionally, everything is planned and prepared in advance because the idol music market is so trend-oriented, but lately it seems like things have changed and musicians are central. Eventually consumers’ needs will be understood and reflected on the spot in a system that appeals to fans.”

[Picture caption: Photo = Newsis reporter, Park Moon Ho]

  • Diversification “At the same time targeting a global market”

CEO Kim expects to expand these entertainment business models by adding on various additional services. Fashion, or on the other hand, celebrity fashion brands and collaborations, Seven Seasons’ content combined with partnering IT platforms, and domestic and foreign concerts and events are expected to be a part of these new business models and initiatives.

“In the entertainment market, you can’t survive doing just one thing. The market center is secured content, then you have to diversify into different directions. Fan demand is anticipated through new platforms, both foreign and domestic; databases are built that make it possible to anticipate the future. As early as next year we’ll be able to see new results.”

Rapid change is an entertainment company’s lot; producing differentiated content and integrated derived businesses, together with firmness, should result in growth, reckons CEO Kim. From this foundation he is getting ready to capture the global market.

“The artists’ personality and musicianship help produce content that appeals beyond the domestic market to Japan and greater China, plus we are thinking about developing networks in the Southeast Asian market. Furthermore, in order to advance our global content business into markets in the Americas and Europe, we’re expecting to make new appearances.”

Throughout the interview, over and over again, he referred to content–in other words, popular culture. Teenagers can take pride in this culture, because the Republic of Korea brand can be imparted to other countries through this culture. Under the command of CEO Kim, Seven Seasons’s new model of entertainment suggests that the company can be reborn as a valuable cultural enterprise.


19 responses »

    • Sorry! It’s all about corporate organization, and my Korean is better suited to translating conversations about the weather and dinner.

      If it helps: It’s a profile of Seven Seasons’ CEO, Kim Kyu Wook. Anything in double quotation marks is a quote from him. It’s basically about how he doesn’t run a top-down organization, and how instead of being run by a big company, Seven Seasons is careful to maintain ownership of the content they produce and then they partner with other companies to expand Block B’s reach.

  1. Thanks for translating this article about seven seasons. Google translate was giving me gibberish as normal when I tried to read it when it came out XD. Btw would you happen to know how ticket sales are coming along for block b’s concerts on the eve of their comeback?

    • You’re welcome. Google Translate just kind of doesn’t get grammar. Like, even easy grammar! I’ve seen things with French that were just astounding, and it’s MUCH better with French than Korean!

      The only way I can think to monitor the concert sales is to create an English-speaker account at the ticket site (which you can do) and then pretend like you’re going to buy one so you can see what tickets are available, and I just don’t think it’s important enough to go to that kind of trouble. They’re not going to die if they don’t sell all 28,000 seats, you know?

    • Decided to check ’cause I was curious; ~2280 seats left on the first day, and ~2770 seats left for the second day. Assuming all 14,000 seats were up for sale each day, not bad ^^.

      • I agree–they wouldn’t put all 14,000 seats up because that would include seats behind the stage, but I’d say they were pretty obviously too big for a 5,000-seat venue before, and that’s still true.

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