Hyukoh has gotten a lot of attention with the news of signing to Tablo‘s HIGH GROUND label. The band definitely gained a huge boost being a part of Infinite Challenge’s bi-yearly music festival 무도 가요제.I’ve been watching the episodes and I was surprised to hear that IU was a fan of the band.
A lot of questioning comes from what effect this could have on Hyukoh being on a sub-label under YG Entertainment. Having an “indie” band sign to a label owned by one of the major Kpop labels would lead many to think that the band could go through the Kpop grinder and get transformed into something different.
Look at Hyukoh’s 22 from iTunes. it was released under an artist management company that licenses to Loen Entertainment – a major media company.
In my opinion, I don’t think this will be the case. Granted that HIGH GROUND is owned through YG, but it’s run by Tablo. As an artist, I would think his experience inside the music media machine would give him insight about how to properly assist and develop artists.
HIGH GROUND could actually help artists gain more attention in mainstream media which could also shine a spotlight on tons of music that is largely ignored.
Just because HIGH GROUND is under YG, that doesn’t make them any better or worse than the independent labels that host South Korea’s indie bands.
A lot of independent labels use bigger companies to assist in distribution. Yellow Monsters used Sony to distribute some releases.
A lot of labels use Mirrorball Music for distribution as well. Even unsigned bands have assistance for licensing, like DFSB Collective does for a lot of artists.
Labels are a great way for bands to get support to record music and help with logistics for different things like festivals. But at the same time, depending on the label, the contracts they sign could actually lock them into deals that are almost as bad as idol contracts. Granted they aren’t “slave” contracts, but they can be unfair.
I’ve heard stories about this from different bands and just because the label is considered indie, they manage themselves just like the big Kpop companies.
I’ve said this before, a lot of bands don’t live as musicians. They have jobs to support their music. It’s a very small segment of artists that are able to live off releases and playing live. Every band deserves success and the way they decide to do that is up to them.
The biggest positive of the signing is that Hyukoh gets support from HIGH GROUND and shows off another example of the variety of independent music within South Korea and internationally. Tablo is an influencer within music and media and any artist on HIGH GROUND will get a huge amount of exposure. Whether that leads to bigger success for the band hasn’t been seen yet.
Bands in South Korea do amazing things with and without labels and that’s what people should be focusing on.