Today, April 16, is Record Store Day. While it may not yet have caught on in Korea, I’ve had a post related to buying Korean indie music saved in draft state since long so I figured this would be a good day to finish it. In honor of the day, first up a couple of record stores that you can actually visit:
Whether you live in Seoul or not, if you’ve found your way to this blog you probably already have some idea that Hyang Music is the main destination if you want to go beyond the indie selection already available through just any CD outlet. refresh_daemon visited during his latest Korea trip: Places: Hyangmusic.com in Seoul.
Once back in LA, refresh_daemon visited Korea Town: Places: Music Plaza in Los Angeles.
If it happens to be so that you are in LA then you may actually get a bit of Record Store Day action related to Korean music as Light In The Attic Records offers the latest LITA Zine with Shin Joong Hyun on the cover in select stores.
Even as an avid (ancient) fan of physical distribution forms of music, with Korea’s heavy focus on digital releases there are times I wish I could just buy mp3s from somewhere instead. Rumor has had it Mnet has been open to foreigners, but it never seemed particularly user friendly to me. Then of course there’s iTunes, where most of the aritsts managed by DFSB Kollective have some presence, but there’s still so much missing. Since a couple of months ago the solution is Soribada – now available in English with something of a subscription service. Kamala-Chan wrote about it after trying it out: Music Tip: Soribada
While on the subject of digital distribution of music, here is a couple of not so happy but still recommended articles:
– South Korea – A nation where artists literally starve
– Korea’s Fair Trade Commission fines 15 music distributors for collectively rigging prices
With that in mind, if you’re buying mp3s to support the artists behind the music here’s what I’ve learned from talking to some of the people affected: Soribada is the better source compared to other Korean outlets, but iTunes outshines them all by far. Although buying music through iTunes means you’ll be paying more for the same song it also means a bigger portion of the price you’re paying is actually going towards the artist/label rather than the company selling you the song.
As far as Soribada goes, I’m still a member, and I’m still enjoying it. They’ve increased the count of songs you get for 9.99 a month since I joined already even. I’ve been finding a lot of interesting and barely known artists through their genre search. I think that Korea needs to learn a little bit from the US on their sales strategy though. The biggest portion of income for most US bands here are cultivated through merchandise sales rather than album or digital release sales. If the indie bands would just put out simple t-shirts, buttons or other items they would make profit off of that more than music. Because, let’s face it, more and more people are less willing to buy their music than they were before. I do my best to support the artists though, and always hope that others do too.
mnet is open to foreigners. I have an active membership there, downloaded couples of songs that are otherwise not accessible to me. the only perk of using mnet vs. soribada is that you can choose to get 320kbps quality vs. 192kbps on soribada. but of course, unless you have super high-tech system you can’t tell the differences.
Kamala-Chan, what happens if you don’t download all the songs you’re entitled to during a month? Will those downloads be saved for later, or are they just lost?
As for your point about selling merchandise that’s definitely the way to go. Few bands do this to any greater extent today, but as far as I’m aware at least Vicious Glare and 13 Steps both get some decent enough money from doing so.