Soundcloud is a producer's playground
These days, between your mobile device, tablet, computer, laptop, and tv, there is no shortage of access to music streaming apps, programs, or websites. Companies like Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube offer ways to listen to your favorite music for little to no cost. Among these brands exists SoundCloud, an online audio distribution platform based in Berlin, Germany.
SoundCloud gives users the ability to upload, record, promote, and share their original works to a worldwide audience. But what makes the site unique and how is it changing the K-Pop and the Korean music scene?
Creative juices flow free
For many K-Pop artists, life in the industry can seem rigid and demanding due to the boundaries set by their labels. These industries choose which singles will be hits and curate them to be so. Though there exist idol groups and artists who have a say in the production of their music, often times idols do not have the ability to experiment with the sound they would like to make until much later in their career. Even then, it must be a given that they have done successfully in their career and have fans willing to support their experimentation.
In steps SoundCloud.
SoundCloud offers these idols a sense of artistic and creative freedom where they can work individually on their own endeavors and release such creations on a free streaming platform for fans worldwide. Following idol SoundCloud accounts equates knowing the experimental projects artists have been making within the scant supply of free time they have in between comebacks.
Remixes, covers, original singles, mixtapes, and more
As mentioned before, idols on SoundCloud are able to express themselves without the pressure or burdens of pleasing their superiors or their fan base. These artists tend to show this creativity through their remixes, covers, original singles, and mixtapes. But, idols aren't the only portion of the Korean music scene that are utilizing the site.
We have seen a number of Korean Hip Hop record labels such as Brand New Music or AOMG use the platform as a means to push new underground music to the forefront of the Korean music scene. The existence of SoundCloud has encouraged many underground and idol rappers alike to promote their own solo endeavors through free-to-download mixtapes on SoundCloud.
Others such as EXO's Park Chanyeol, 15&'s Baek Yerin, and Seventeen tend to utilize the platform to do covers as gifts for their loyal fans, as well as a way to show off their own original compositions and side projects. Through this individual exposure, artists are able to showcase abilities otherwise hidden away from the world!
Artists are also able to express their innermost thoughts and emotions that are otherwise hidden away behind the mask they put on for media outlets. A prime example is Bang Yongguk who uses his SoundCloud as a way to deal with his health issues. The artist opened up using his song 'AM 4:44' and garnered support from fans across the world who came to support him during his time of need and vulnerability.
Korean music goes across genres worldwide
As these Korean artists use this platform to promote their original work, covers, remixes, and mixtapes, we notice fans from across the world joining in on the fun. From mainstream to underground, it seems all of Korea is slowly turning to SoundCloud and other online platforms to finally shift the focus from the 'showy' aspects of being a performer to the creative and experimental projects these brains can create.
Even Koreans residing in other parts of the world are putting their music on SoundCloud and being revered by Korean citizens. Fullerton, California-native and Show Me The Money contestant Junoflo is a great example of an artist who used SoundCloud to promote his work to an overseas audience. The ability to remotely create music in the United States and have it become a megahit in Korea is incomparable to what a minor domestic hip-hop label has the ability to do.
International indie-electronic Korean artists on SoundCloud such as CIFIKA and jayvito are able to collaborate over the internet and create distinct and unique pieces for perusing music junkies to listen to.
This marks the dawn of the era of at-home music creation. With accessibility to production programs and instruments, many have opted to create lo-fi tracks in the comfort of their bedroom. Others, such as the clout goggles-toting swimcoach, a rapper based out of Koreatown, Los Angeles, released songs (see K-Town Hooligan) declaring pride for their Korean-American heritage and proudly stating divisively that the US "picked the wrong president".
The beginning of a new era
SoundCloud offers a new era for Korean artists as they escape the boundaries previously built around them by the industry's societal standards. With the invention of the internet as a new mechanism and tool for self-expression, there is an opportunity to test new waters. The ability to collaborate remotely with artists and producers from all over the world creates the possibility for innovation and ultimately a second rush of the Hallyu Wave on a comprehensive scale with many new genres, styles, and instrumentals.