With numerous local bands and soloists waiting in line to become the next big thing in the United States, a U.S.-based entertainment agency and its head is thinking outside the box and planning to do it backwards.
"The fact that many Asian entertainment companies have been coming to the U.S. to buy music and work with U.S. producers has given us the desire to reverse the trend and create a group from Hollywood and send them to Korea to cater to the music industry out there," Stephen Um from West Side Entertainment told The Korea Times.
Um started working in Hollywood from the early 2000s and realized that there was no Asian presence in the U.S. music industry. While working with various figures in Hollywood, including producer Cudda Love who nurtured stars such as Nelly, he found that he could start using his experience and expertise to help Asian entertainers. Thus, Um and the agency have begun working on creating a girl band in the U.S. The five-member group will consist of two Korean Americans, two Koreans and one Korean-Japanese.
"The biggest priority in choosing the right members is that they need to know the Korean language and culture. Since our activities will be in Korea, our group members will need to respect the people and communicate with them efficiently,"
Moving to the U.S. has become contagious over the years in Korea. Local agencies have either moved or sent their singers stateside, but this has proved to be a very difficult and time-consuming ordeal, let alone expensive.
With the exception of Rain, who won the Biggest Badass Star at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards for his acting, not singing, most got the cold shoulder, with the local press giving them the wrong kind of media exposure and even posting photos randomly taken at parties. Fundamentally, it was hard to determine if they were actually paying attention to their music, their fashion, collaborating artists or Asian ethnicity.
"The biggest problem we saw was that the recent wave of Korean singers' U.S. management partners didn't handle their management affairs properly and that the singers were not able to communicate clearly to the American masses due to the language barrier. Fans here in the U.S. want to make their stars personal to them. They want them to be their role models or even boy or girl friends in their minds," Um analyzed.
"In any market, a singer must have decent vocal strengths and have looks that are marketable. In America, fans are more focused on vocal talent and distinct personality. However, it seems that in Korea, even with talented vocal strength, people seemed to be more impressed by a singer's or group's visual style and catchy dance routines. Consequently, our group will be designed to focus on these attributes in Korea as well," he added.
Um's observation is not new. Such problems have been noticed by music critics, industry experts and even fans, and the language barrier has always been an obstacle. But, according to Um, it's not impossible to overcome.
"The more the Asian artists can open up and communicate what is in their hearts and minds more clearly and conduct more detailed interviews and be on live shows, they can win over more U.S.-based fans' hearts and minds as well."
The agency will hold an audition in September in Korea and the exact date, location and time will be announced shortly through media outlets.
"We are looking for girls who can turn heads with their looks and also melt hearts with their voices. From our experience in America, we know that this dream will not be easily achieved so we look toward working with girls who can grind it out, stay focused, and give it their best to make the fans happy," Um said.
The goal is set, auditions to be scheduled and hopes are high.
"The final goal for the group is to be embraced by all Asian fans in the next three to five years so that we can bring the group back here to the U.S. and hopefully make them one of the first successful Asian groups to be established here in the mainstream U.S. music industry."
Source: The Korea Times
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