Six years ago saw the inception of Marcan Entertainment, established under the direction of Ryan Jhun and Mark Yom. Their roles in the company may vastly differ--Jhun is the creative producer who produces the music while Yom takes care of the business side as the managing director--but their end goal is one and the same: bringing only the best producers to agencies and their artists.
Marcan has a long-standing relationship with SM Entertainment in particular, whom they work with almost exclusively. This doesn't mean they shy from working with any other agency; they have produced songs for artists under labels other than SM, including 15&, SPICA, and U-KISS, just to name a few.
However, for the most part, Marcan maintains close ties with SM, as Jhun was able to secure a deal with the label before he officially set up shop with Yom back in 2009. Ever since then, Marcan has busily acted as the intermediary for SM and other labels, combing through the plethora of demos that music producers and writers send their way. If they hear something they like, or think they have found what the agencies may like, the music gets pitched directly to the labels.
One may wonder exactly how and where Marcan finds these songwriters who produce the beats that may be suitable for a K-Pop act. Demos aren't the only means through which Marcan may discover a kickass tune; they receive referrals from those they have worked and are currently working with. Warner Chappell is another vital channel which allows them to connect with a vast network of artists.
Marcan told us, "This industry is so small that everyone knows each other. We get referrals from the writers/producers we've worked in the past and current. We also get demos from all over the world from all kinds of writers/producers. We would also reach out to the writers that we're interested in through their internet sites and SNS."
With SM, Marcan not only pitch music but they also personally handpick producers from all over the world and invite them to Korea for 'songwriting camps' coordinated by the label. This meticulous process is yet another way that Marcan helps SM generates their catchy tunes that ultimately end up on your playlist and the top of the charts: "SM gives Marcan specific leads for their artists. We then go through the roster of writers/producers that can write the specific styles that SM is looking for. We invite them to Korea and get holed up in the studio for two weeks, haha~ We'll have anywhere from 10-14 writers/producers creating beats, melodies, and lyrics. During this period, A&R's from SM will consistently monitor and give feedbacks to what we are making in the studios. At the end of the two week run, we'll end up with 15-20 songs that might be suitable singles/album songs for upcoming SM artist's releases."
Of course, there is a whole lot more to these guys than what this short introductory piece lets on. Luckily for us, I was able to ask Jhun and Yom themselves regarding their thoughts on the K-Pop industry, what their favorite K-Pop song is, which K-Pop group they most enjoy producing for, and more!
What is your personal favorite K-Pop song that Marcan has produced so far and why?
"Ryan's favorite song is EXO's 'Love Me Right' because the track used real live instruments (bass and electric guitar), and this song was the one that took more than 2 weeks to finish because of constant edits we had to do to make it right ;)"
Which artist(s) (in K-Pop) would you like to produce music for in the future and why?
"Ryan looks forward to producing for S.M.ROOKIES since they're the next expected big band coming from SM soon. AOA is another group that Ryan personally likes. He hopes to get a deal to produce for them in the near future. Crossing our fingers."
You mentioned in a different interview that EDM was in vogue several years ago, but now, that is not the case. How do you stay abreast the changing K-Pop landscape and determine that the listeners' preferences are changing?
"This particular sound (EDM) will always be around and it's here for good. All the songs that are charting and being played in the mainstream are produced with electronic elements to it. As with all the genre of music, K-Pop will continue to evolve but maintain it's 'K-Pop' flavor. Our writers/producers are constantly facing the challenge of finding 'What's new' or the next sound. Not just K-Pop but all music is the final outcome of interpretations of inspiration. Anyone can get holed up in the studio and search YouTube or SoundCloud to hear what other musicians are doing so they can produce cookie cutter music. I believe this complacency has been happening all across the board regardless what the music genre is. Which is very sad. Luckily for us, our writers are constantly exposed to new experiences and environment due to their lifestyles. They travel a lot and go try different things to keep challenging themselves for new experience. All of this input, they encompass them into music that they love to create thus keeping themselves on point with fresh sounds and music."
Where do you see the K-Pop scene heading in the next couple of years? Do you believe it is just a passing trend that will simmer down in a couple of years or will it burgeon into something bigger?
"Girl/Boy bands will continue to exist in the K-Pop scene in the next couple of years. Unfortunately, they'll probably dominate the market in foreseeable future. But what we would like to see in the future is diversity. We don't think it can get bigger than what it is now due to lack of diversity. What K-Pop needs isn't more girl/boy idol bands but different talents with artistic direction/identity. But as we are all aware, most of the major artist/music management labels don't want to risk their investment capital into trying something new. That's why you'll always end up seeing same formula being implemented through out all the girl/boy bands coming out from Korea. If this trend continues to persist, people will eventually get tired of it just like what happened to US in the late 90's and early 00's with the girl/boy bands (i.e., NKOTB, BSB, N'Sync, Spice Girls, Pussycat Dolls, etc...). I don't personally enjoy Korean Hip Hop but this genre has been particularly doing well and growing steadily here in Korea even without the backing of major label. I believe this is one good example of Korean music getting into something different where passionate artists are creating different medium for their fans to diverge. They are also bringing their own identity into the music unlike the usual marketed/pre-planned idol groups. If this market wants to be something that will be an imprint rather than a fad, it needs to be willing to try something new with different paradigm. Or else, we might be facing a same fate as with pop bands that are no longer relevant from the 90's and early 00's."
Who is the K-Pop artist that you currently most enjoy producing music for and why (both within and outside SM)?
"We love to produce for SHINee. Our first artist to produce for SM was SHINee and we had our first major single with SM's SHINee as well ('Lucifer'). They can handle ballad, dance, disco, house, and many other genres that are popular ('View' and 'Married To The Music'). You don't see many boy bands that can show multiple talents such as this group. We believe this group has what it takes to go for a long term. Of course, other artists from SM that we've produced for are all talented and we love what they do. We are especially proud of how Red Velvet's recent single 'Dumb Dumb' and other songs ('Campfire,' 'Red Dress,' 'Don't U Wait No More') has portrayed this group's potential. Taeyeon's new solo single 'I' definitely showed what Taeyeon can do as bona-fide solo artist. Besides SM, any artist who are appreciative and passionate about the sounds that Marcan can bring are all welcomed to work with us. As you can see from our discography from our site, we don't discriminate who we work with. We have worked with new debuting artists and as well as known and popular artists. Not all music we've produced and curated were singles or major hit. But it was simply produced for these artist because we shared the same passion and vision. We'll always be thankful for those who gave us the opportunity to work and continue to support the artists/labels."
Their answers quite clearly indicate that they are passionate and serious about what they do, and that they are hopeful about K-Pop's potential to grow into something even bigger than what it is at present. I think it's safe to say that K-Pop will never lack for sweet tunes as long as Marcan is around! You can check out Marcan's website at marcanent.com.