When it comes to Korean music, I don’t consider myself an expert of the history of the rise of rock music. Since I only started listening to Korean indie and rock music around 2007, there are plenty of years that I missed and only partially caught up with through albums. But now in 2014, the expansion of Korean independent music has seen some really bright days.
Considering the main portals for international readers to discover Korean bands is through Twitter or Facebook, the adoption of the networks by bands is impressive. Also the fact that a lot of bands never needed to think outside the borders of South Korea, it’s great that they have found a more “international” way to communicate.
But with the title The State of Korean Music, I wanted to talk more about how more people have started to discover and explore the different genres of music.
In a short sentence: It’s a great time to listen to Korean music.
This can be applied through a lot of different means. For one, more bands are releasing their music digitally for international audiences. Whether that is through iTunes, bandcamp, or SoundCloud, the ways to discover new music are a lot more open than ordering a CD from an international vendor. In some cases, you can directly support a band by buying their music.
Second, the use of Facebook and Twitter are excellent ways to find new bands. There is still a language barrier in some cases. While some bands still use Cyworld (which is locked for most international users), Facebook pages offer a way to keep tabs of bands and what they’re doing.
The usual usage is announcing shows, in the case that you visit South Korea you can usually find bands playing on the weekend. Twitter is also a great way to interact directly with bands and musicians. They all welcome comments and conversations from fans and I think they especially enjoy receiving messages from people internationally.
There are many cases when a band is surprised that they have fans outside of South Korea. I think that’s changing now with more musicians becoming aware that people are searching for more music. Whether fans enter through listening to Korean pop music and then searching other genres, it’s a great transition.
But at the same time, these bands still need support any way they can get it. Through many conversations I’ve had, it’s very difficult to live as a full-time musician. There are some cases, but most smaller bands work during the week and play shows on the weekend. So if their music is available, support them any way you can.
If you live in the United States, Seoulsonic’s yearly tour has brought an excellent selection of bands around the country. While the tour doesn’t hit a lot of places, if you can make a trip to see a show it’s really worth it. There’s no comparison between listening to the song on a recording to seeing the band perform live.
But back to the “state” of Korean music.
It’s a perfect time. Not only because it’s easier to find music yourself, but there are a lot more sites that can help you discover music. With KoreanIndie.com, it’s difficult to cover all the news and shows. I feel like the site is more a place for discovery. By posting album reviews, it provides a way that readers can be introduced to different types of music.
The interviews are another way for musicians to introduce themselves personally. When I post interviews, I never change the answers and only fix sentences for a better flow, but nothing is changed.
There are a lot of other sites inside South Korea like Korea Gig Guide or DoIndie that provide a more current view. It’s something that is almost impossible to do outside of the country, short of writing all the time.
There are more sites that cover Korean culture as well and those may also provide additional information about the country.
As KoreanIndie.com grows, whether by the type of content we cover or how much support we can give bands, a lot of it will have to come from the fans. These bands work their asses off to make music and they’re no different from any other band trying to make music they love.
As a source, I would like to cover as many bands as possible. With the current writing team in place, I think we’re doing a pretty good job. But if you see that link for iTunes or bandcamp, give those bands and musicians your support. It can go a long way to help them record more music.