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[Herald Interview] K-pop at forefront of changing music consumption: Hello82 founder

LA-based K-pop record label aims to foster K-pop-inspired lifestyle

By Hong Yoo

Published : April 10, 2024 - 15:22

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Choi Jae-yoon, founder and CEO of Hello82 (Hello82) Choi Jae-yoon, founder and CEO of Hello82 (Hello82)

K-pop is leading a new generation of music consumers for whom social media platforms, such as TikTok and YouTube, have become the leading outlets for experiencing music, says Choi Jae-yoon, the founder and CEO of Hello82, a Los Angeles-based K-pop record label and distributor established in 2018.

“K-pop artists are like social influencers with a fan community. That fan community consumes content related to the artist available online and shares such content. They are the main target consumer these days for the music industry," Choi noted in a recent interview with The Korea Herald. "This is quite different from how foreign musicians market their work, (which emphasizes) musicianship.”

Listeners are also becoming more distinctive in the music they consume, putting an end to single mega-trends, Choi observed.

“The next generation will have even more fragmented interests because their content consumption is heavily influenced by an algorithm that continues to show the content of one’s interest. This is why music trends are deeply related to media changes,” he added.

Taking into consideration such changes in the way music is consumed, Hello82 was established as a fan-centric record label, rather than one centered around artists.

“K-pop artists are not in the US or in Europe all the time. They visit foreign countries once or twice a year at most. But (their content continues) to be consumed through social media. So we provide both offline and online K-pop-related content for K-pop fans to enjoy,” said Choi.

The company not only distributes K-pop albums but also holds offline fan events and pop-up stores, makes and sells merchandise, and operates social media channels including YouTube to distribute K-pop content in diverse languages.

Choi noted that K-pop consumers in the US do not belong to a particular artist's fandom but are rather fans of the K-pop genre and the Korean culture. "So what we do is continue serving consumable content to these people, make visual content that they can watch, create events to help them get together with people who share the same interests and distribute K-pop albums,” said Choi about Hello82's work.

The company is the only K-pop record label and distributor in the US.

The company also has an office in Korea and is preparing to launch an office in Berlin as well.

“The European music market is like 10 years behind the US music market, as the supply of K-pop albums is barely catching up with the demand. Only recently have K-pop artists started touring Europe," Choi said.

"Because we are a fan-centered record label, we want to ease the difficulties K-pop fans outside Korea face and help them get their hands on K-pop albums and content in the language of their choice. We are more than just a record label and distributor but a company that provides a K-pop-inspired lifestyle to K-pop fans,” said Choi.