MU:CON, South Korea’s largest international music conference, is set to connect both fans and industry professionals later this month, with a free livestream of its much-anticipated 2020 edition.
South Korea’s nine-year-old annual conference is transitioning to an all-online format, yet another reminder of COVID-19’s far-reaching impact upon the music community. However, in preserving the health of would-be attendees, MU:CON (also known as the Seoul International Music Fair) is aiming to preserve its original format and vision despite the limitations.
The digital event will focus heavily on the current COVID-related challenges facing the music industry, as well as the post-coronavirus landscape. Scheduled to initiate on Wednesday, September 23rd and conclude the following Saturday, September 26th, MU:CON will livestream artist performances and conference speeches from Seoul’s innovative, music-centric Nodeul Island.
Showcase-wise, esteemed South Korean acts will kick off MU:CON Online 2020 with an opening ceremony on the 23rd, and 70 artists and bands are booked to perform across the conference’s four days. To date, over 700 musicians (from the nation’s thriving K-pop scene and a number of other genres) have played MU:CON, which has cultivated a reputation for hosting the best of up-and-coming talent.
The two-day conference portion of MU:CON Online 2020 will center on the lasting changes that have accompanied the coronavirus crisis – and how professionals can adapt to this new norm.
Emphasizing global industry trends, day one will begin with a speech from artist, producer, and MU:CON art director Yoon Sang. Triller co-owner and 88rising co-founder Jaeson Ma is slated to comment next, offering remarks on the music landscape’s path forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After that, Korean music officials are expected to address the future of online marketing in the streaming age, and New York University’s Music Business Program director Larry Miller will speak with Mark Mulligan, managing director at UK-based data-analysis firm MIDiA Research, on profit models and differentiation in live music.
Chartmetric founder and CEO Sungmoon Cho will then discuss the effects of music data analytics (particularly in A&R), and to round out the opening day, Yoon Sang will retake the stage with indie rock band Se So Neon and post-hard rock band HarryBigButton to shed light upon collaboration’s role in the future of K-pop.
Comprised of nine speeches as well as an R&D presentation from the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), the Ministry of Culture division that bankrolls MU:CON, day two’s lineup focuses on the advent of new business models in the music industry.
Sung-Su Lee, CEO of South Korea’s single largest entertainment company, K-pop giant SM Entertainment, will start the day by examining the IP space and remote-working nuances.
YeonJeong Kim, Twitter’s head of global K-pop and K-content partnerships, will then explore the business opportunities afforded by the genre’s diehard supporters and quick-growing fan base. MU:CON has arranged for Steve Lee, CEO of virtual-reality content service (and soon-to-be concert provider) AmazeVR, to speak of his long-term vision for VR gigs. Rounding out the day’s latter half and the conference element of MU:CON 2020 will be Hong-Ki Kim, founder of sync agency Space Oddity, and speeches on smart solutions to music licensing and AI music-composition technology.
In addition to replicating (and bolstering) the live music and conferences delivered as part of previous years’ events, organizers have developed a digital-networking platform for MU:CON Online 2020.
Though artists, execs, and other industry assets will be unable to interact in Seoul, they’ll have the chance to make meaningful contacts – and build strong working relationships – via MU:CON’s specially designed portal.
All interested members of the music community – from artists to promoters and audio engineers to talent agents – need only submit a brief application on MU:CON’s website to verify their roles in the industry. Then, after filling out their profiles with basic information and a concise bio, these individuals and entities can easily exchange messages (and off-platform contact info) over the course of the music conference.
Historically, somewhere around 600 delegates – including an abundance of music festivals – have participated in the happening, and one would assume that the number will increase dramatically this year as individuals enroll from all corners of the globe. On the artist-festival front alone, more than 100 acts have secured international performance opportunities after meeting with promoters at MU:CON.
Given that 2020’s event is an all-digital conference, the latter figure should rise substantially. To be sure, officials from SXSW, Canadian Music Week (CMW), The Great Escape, Glastonbury, Focus Wales, and Bangkok Music City, to name just some, will be on hand for MU:CON’s networking component.
Incidentally, Digital Music News was on hand for MU: CON’s 2012 event in Seoul, where ‘Gangnam Style’ and its impact on K-pop were both big topics. Now, we’re excited to rejoin forces eight years later as the established conference weathers the COVID crisis.
COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the global economy and several professional spheres – including the music industry. For artists, executives, songwriters, and other music community members, the key to emerging stronger post-pandemic is capitalizing upon invaluable opportunities like MU:CON in anticipation of a brighter future and a return to normalcy.