From Idol to CEO: 9 Korean Artists Who Started Their Own Music Label
If you have been following the Korean craze for a long time now, you may have wondered where your OG idols went after the height of their performing careers. Apparently, big stars like CL, Super Junior, and even PSY started their own labels; Tatler tells more below!
Back in the good old days, the likes of K-pop group Super Junior, entertainers CL and Rain have dominated television screens and radio stations. These stars were unstoppable evident in their big and well-received projects, concerts, and whatnot.
In 2021, new generations of performers have set their own records in South Korea; but the fans continue to look out for their OG idols. In this article, Tatler surveys the whereabouts of these highly-regarded performers and how they started to venture into the record label business.
Korean-American performer Jay Park has always been a powerhouse with equal prowess in rapping, singing, and dancing.
Park, who initially rose to fame as the leader of South Korean boy band 2PM, is often described as a "scene stalwart" of Korean R&B. His charismatic performances and stage presence landed him on the covers of well-known glossy magazines like Cosmo Men, W Magazine, GQ, and more.
In the present time, Park is spending his time as the CEO of two independent hip-hop record labels: AOMG and H1ghr Music.
In 2017, Kang Daniel won the second season of reality TV competition series Produce 101. Since then, he has become a valuable member of the show's derivative boy band Wanna One.
Besides being a talented musician and stage performer, Kang also excelled in different fields like acting and hosting. Just this year, he was seen hosting Mnet's Street Woman Fighter (2021) as well as the spin-off show Street Dance Girls Fighter (2021).
Rumour has it that Kang will also have his acting debut through the Disney+ original series, Rookies (2022).
The K idol has established an independent entertainment company named Konnect Entertainment.
CL has built quite a good reputation in the K-pop industry; to this day, she is regarded as a "triple threat" for her unparalleled talent in singing, dancing, and rapping.
In 2020, the South Korean star launched Very Cherry, an agency born with the idea of creating a core team that has been “cherry-picked” for CL and by CL.
“Most recently, I’ve been in the process of wrapping up my album production. I also created the team ‘Very Cherry.’ With my initial plans, the album should’ve come out at the end of November 2020, but after starting the work, there were a lot of things I needed to experience in order to learn," CL said.
In 2013, the entire world danced to Korean singer PSY's Oppa Gangnam Style.
The song's fun beat and the easy-to-follow dance steps were so famous that PSY became the first Korean artist to get one billion views in the history of the Internet. In America, Gangnam Style peaked at number two on Billboard Hot 100. Before 2013, the song also topped the music charts of more than 30 countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
On October 29, 2018, PSY established P Nation, a record label and entertainment agency he founded following his departure from YG Entertainment.
Even non-Kpop fans know how famous Super Junior songs like Sorry Sorry, Bonamana, and Sexy Free and Single are. There is no doubt that the group's repeated TV appearances and stage performances catapulted contributed to the rise of the Korean craze across Asia.
On November 6, 2015, SM Entertainment announced that members of Super Junior will be launching their own label management. Dubbed the Label SJ, SM said that the new venture will be taken care of by Super Junior-K.R.Y., Super Junior-T, Super Junior-M, Super Junior-H, and Super Junior-D&E.
"We established Label SJ to give Super Junior our wholehearted support and an ideal system for managing the group," SM said.
Jackson Wang, a Hong-Kong born rapper, singer, fashion designer, and dancer has been on the headlines of the South Korean entertainment industry since he joined the boy band GOT7. In 2014, he debuted as the group's official member with the hit single Girls Girls Girls.
In 2017, Wang established TEAM WANG, a record label that released his hit single Papillon; In 2020, the performer also became the creative director and designer of fashion brand Team Wang Design.
Tatler Trivia: Jackson Wang has been included in the second instalment of Tatler Asia’s Most Influential list.
Kim Won-sik or "Ravi" is a member of the South Korean boy group VIXX and its sub-unit VIXX LR. In 2017, the rapper debuted as a solo artist with the release of his mini album R.EAL1ZE.
On June 27, 2019, Ravi has established his own hip-hop label Groovl1n. The rapper remained passionate with music as he launched The L1ve in 2021. The label seeks to support a variety of talented music artists across different genres.
Long-time followers off the K craze would fondly remember how Korean actor Rain and Song Hye-kyo pulled everyone into the addicting abyss that is K Drama with the hit series, Full House.
It essentially catapulted Rain's fruitful career. For his performance, he won the prestigious 2004 KBS Drama Excellence and Popularity Awards.
Rain's musical career also took off with the release of his seven albums (six Korean, one Japanese), 28 singles and numerous world tours.
The actor and musician now spend his time leading J. Tune Entertainment (established 2007) and R.A.I.N. Company (established 2015).
Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and actor Henry Lau or "Henry" debuted in 2008 as a member of Super Junior-M. In 2013, the performer launched his solo career by releasing his soundtrack Trap.
His wide popularity in South Korea earned him a spot in Hollywood where he starred in A Dog's Journey, a film produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment.
In 2018, Henry, together with his musician brother Clinton, formed Monster Entertainment label. “Initially, we tried to find a company that could do everything I needed across different languages, countries and disciplines,” Lau said in an interview. “I never expected to have to start a company, but it is interesting to see things from the business side. It is a lot more responsibility, and things make more sense now.”