Universal Music seeks merchandising deal in Korea

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 5, 2014 - 19:44
  • Updated : Mar 7, 2014 - 17:21
In a music market solidly dominated by K-pop and other local music trends, the international music scene is still looking to make its artists known in Korea.

Universal Music Group, one of the world’s leading music recording companies, along with its subsidiary merchandising company Bravado, is planning to expand and incorporate its products by adding a touch of local flavor.

In the past, Bravado made its first real mark in Korea when introducing its popular smartphone cases featuring the images and artwork of some of Universal’s most popular artists while specifically targeting the Korean community.

“The designs that have come out of Korea are really innovative ... I think combining that with both the appeal of international music stars and marrying that with local trends has become a very successful combination,” said Laird Adamson, international head of Universal Music Group Bravado, during an interview with The Korea Herald. 
Laird Adamson, international head of Universal Music Group Bravado, poses before an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on Tuesday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Universal Music Group is home to some of the world’s biggest names in the music industry including the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and, more recently, Korea’s Psy.

“I think we are fortunate in that our roster has such international, both iconic and current pop stars, that we are still able to work incredibly well within a market that has such a strong domestic presence,” he said. “We are beginning to tap into the domestic market. It’s something that’s very important to us and something we would like to do more of. ... I see more and more great opportunities in the future in that respect.”

One of Bravado’s goals for this year is to expand the company’s focus and work more closely with local clothing lines. Adamson stated that in Korea the company is particularly pursuing high-end fashion and working with local designers as well as a number of mid-tier retailers to launch its new clothing line.

Bravado has been working on a number of innovative ways to integrate music and merchandising such putting QR tags on certain pieces of apparel to allow customers to stream music with their purchase.

Despite the tremendous global popularity of many of Universal’s artists, one key difference Adamson has noticed between Korea and elsewhere is the overall dominance of homegrown music in the local market.

“The biggest difference is the predominance of K-pop within the Korean market,” he continued. “Relative to other markets, it seems to me that local music, the domestic music scene, is particularly strong.”

“We work with Psy outside of Korea and that has been a phenomenal relationship,” said Adamson. “He continues to be so popular in every country and it’s been a really fantastic partnership for us. To that end, we’re really a global company ... and we would like to work with more Korean artists.”

Bravado is currently in the early stages of negotiations with other K-pop artists and is looking to continue its reach into the domestic market to boost local artists’ music and image both at home and abroad.

“I think they (K-pop artists) have certainly proven that there is a market for them outside of Korea and I think that should grow,” he said.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)