KAI Media Raises $3 Million for K-Pop Act Expansion

KAI Media funding
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KAI Media funding
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Photo Credit: KAI Media

KAI Media focuses on physical K-pop merchandise and in-person fan events. Now the company has raised $3 million in ‘early VC funding.’ Here’s the latest.

Existing investor CRIT Ventures provided the capital to fund KAI Media’s expansion beyond Los Angeles. The company operates under the name hello82 previously raised $5 million in funding from CRIT Ventures, Kakao Entertainment, Snow Corp. and others.

Operating as hello82, the company has focused on providing real-world events and physical products to fans. It operates its own e-commerce store and sells products at national chains including Target, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble. The company opened its first Fan Space in Los Angeles and will soon open its second in Atlanta. A third Fan Space is planned later this year in Berlin.

The latest album marketed by hello82—ATEEZ, THE WORLD EP.FIN: WILL claimed the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart in December 2023. Meanwhile, P1Harmony’s Harmony: All In, 6th Mini Album saw 21 collectible CD editions and debuted at #8 on Billboard’s Top Album sales chart in July 2023.

“We were born as a ‘fan-first’ company because we are fans ourselves,” CEO & Founder of hello82 Jae YoonChoi said in a statement. “While the music industry usually focuses solely on artists and music, we’ve successfully created a two-way bridge between both K-pop and fans outside of South Korea. We are ready to take our formula to international markets, including Europe, so that we can continue to showcase South Korean artists and connect them with fans.”

Of course, the K-pop model of distribution and multiple collectibles has attracted criticism from some in the industry. Notably Billie Eilish spoke out about the industry practice of releasing multiple album variants to boost sales (and game charts). It’s a practice that has long helped boost sales of K-pop albums—but artists like Taylor Swift and even Billie Eilish herself have participated in releasing multiple album variants.