Diversity before profitability in music market

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Diversity before profitability in music market

“Not the strong one lasts long, but the one who lasts long is strong,” said Jang Pil-ho, played by Lee Beom-su, in movie “Jjakpae” (“The City of Violence”). Jang was bullied in his childhood and grew up to become a gangster. When he stabbed Wang-jae, a bossy friend played by Ahn Gil-gang, the audience felt pity for Jang, who lost his reason and conscience due to extreme inferiority complex. At the same time, we feel bitter that our lives are not much different. Six years ago, I started playing guitar on the streets in Hongdae neighborhood. At the time, my friends and I had a bold ambition to perform at the Rock am Ring, the biggest rock festival in Europe. Several years later, I gave up on my dream in music, but many of my friends are still pursuing the dream. When we get together over drinks, they always say, “Not the good ones make money, but those who make money are good.”

Korean indie bands are starving. Until indie scene’s pioneer Moonlight Fairy Come-From-Behind Grand Slam died from a stroke in 2010, there were voices to reform the imbalanced music market that lean too much toward certain genres. However, they were futile attempts. The media still focus on profitable music programs targeting teenagers and young audience. It is not easy for indie musicians to compete against the trendy musicians with media exposure. It is nearly impossible to succeed in the music industry without connections in media.

Indie musicians pitifully appeal that they would want to appear on network music programs even if they have to “hand-synch.” In fact, “Yu Hee-yeoul’s Sketchbook” is the only music program on network television where indie musicians can present their music. “Music Tour La La La” and “Live Music Storage” were discontinued due to low ratings. Some 2,000 indie musicians ardently hope that diversity should come before profitability in music market.

While the Korean media highlighted Psy’s “Gentleman” and Cho Yong-pil’s “Bounce,” Seoul Sonic returned home after a successful North American tour. On April 23, Go Liverpool left for a U.K. tour. The indie bands were surprised by favorable reactions of the local musicians and fans. The overseas music markets may be paying attention to Korea’s indie music first. It is not too late. Just as Deulgukhwa, Songgolmae, and Tisams performed in the March of the Youth in the ’80s, I wish the revival of band music again.

*Sohn Seung-min Senior at Korea Aerospace University
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