Korean hip-hop artist Tablo has been one of the more forward-thinking artists when it comes to digital. We fired some questions at him to find out more for our South Korea profile in this week’s Music Ally Report, but we thought his answers deserved a wider airing.What have been the most successful digital tools/strategies for you?1. Worldwide distribution through iTunes, previously Korean music was not available on iTunes.2. Utilizing twitter, me2day (korean version of twitter), youtube, and other social networking mediums.3. (a centralized portal site for Epik High’s independent label, which is highly personal. keeping in touch with fans has helped keep them aware of when and how to buy our music.) this is the first of its kind in Korea.What kind of team have you built to help you do this, and how does it compare to what a label does? Our CEO, comes from a finance background and has an MBA degree. Our business development manager also comes from a business background. We also have a designer and a programmer.They are a bunch of non-music people, who are now using their various skill sets and applying them to music. Everyone shares a common vision, which is that art precedes all concerns, but definitely needs the backing of clever business. I don’t think their job description is different from a label, however, their strategy is very different compared to the labels in Korea.We did many firsts in Korea, we distributed our album solely from our site, promoted the release of our album with a world tour, created a portal where the artists reach out directly to fans, and made our music available worldwide through iTunes.What are the key digital sales outlets in Korea – and how is this changing? 1. Cellphone ringtones (carrier dependent) wireless distribution2. Online music portals – BUGS MUSIC, CYWORLD MUSIC, M-NET MUSIC, etc3. Internet blog and social networking BGM (background music)The portion of wireless distribution is still dominant; this means that the telcos are the ones who are making the most money from music content. Recently new laws have been passed in Korea and the telcos will soon have to modify its revenue share with the content providers.How easy is for an artist to get digital distribution in South Korea? If one is somewhat accomplished it’s not very difficult. However, if you are a new artist and independent then you will need the backing of a major label. It is not very difficult to get your music distributed but the digital music promotion is what is very difficult. Music sites will not promote your album if you are not somewhat established.Is it easy to sell digital music there?I’m not sure of the exact percentage but I think more than 35% of all digital music is in the form of ringtones, BGM for social networking sites, and blogs. Cell phone music is huge in Korea. Considering the fact that almost everyone has a high-performance cell phone in Korea, selling digital music is not only easy, it’s actually the only way.We are aware that digital music in SK is cheaper that in western countries. How much money does an artist get when selling a digital track? This is very difficult to gauge because Korea has special promotions where a customer can purchase 10-20 songs for around 5 USD. But for the most part, music sells for around 50 cents (USD) for a track. The artist will make, dependent on their contract with their label, anywhere from 30% to 50% of the selling price.

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