Marketing Genius & King of Music Promotion
Bernie Cho is an interesting man. Raised and educated in the U.S, he moved to Seoul in search of a graduate degree. What he found instead was a serendipitous offer to work for MNET and MTV(Korea), which he did for a few years, becoming a Senior Producer Manager. At some point he saw the Korean music scene had a niche that needed filling and he promptly took on the task.
The DFSB Kollective began in 2008 focusing on exporting Korean music to the world. Within the first year they had signed distribution contracts with Apple’s iTunes and began full-scale international promotion of their artists’ music. His company has since been responsible for launching literally hundreds of Korean artists and groups into the international arena.
Their mission is simple: They want to be an artist-friendly music service that artists the best profit percentage in the industry. They want to provide the most efficient solutions for selling music worldwide and provide expert promotional services. The service encompasses protecting the artistic rights to the music, as well, and the DFSB Kollective has successfully shut down the largest Kpop piracy sites worldwide, collecting over $1 million in judgments and settlements from offenders.
Bernie Cho is a man who appears to be passionate about his mission. He believes live music is where the potential lies. There are a lot of great Korean artists and he wants to protect and promote them. The genres covered by the Kollective span everything from Indie Punk to Gospel.
That passion takes him on tour annually with Seoulsonic, a live tour that began in 2011, bringing Korean Indie rock music to the U.S every spring. Indie music has a big market in the America. It goes without saying that rock is big here. Bernie feels that the strength of Korean music is its diversity with an emphasis on originality. The live experience is irreplaceable, and bringing the musicians to the U.S. is great experience, not only for the eager audiences, but for the musicians, as well. The artists learn to be comfortable expressing themselves to a larger audience in a foreign language. They begin to realize that Americans are ready to embrace them and are happy to hear them, even if their English isn’t perfect – in fact, less than perfect English endears them to their American fans.
Seoulsonic seems to be gaining strength each year as its fan base grows. This year with stops that included performances at SXSW in Austin, the Korean-American Film Festival in New York (KAFFNY) and Toronto, Canada for Canadian Music Week, the tour is force to be taken seriously. High energy acts like Goonam (2012 Korean Music Awards : Modern Rock Album of the Year – Nominee), Lowdown 30 (2013 Korean Music Awards : Rock Album of the Year – Nominee), and No Brain (2007 Korean Music Awards : Band of the Year – Winner) definitely draw crowds. Ask a fellow Korean if they know No Brain and they’ll likely respond in the affirmative. No Brain has been around since 1996 when they began in the Hongdae region of Seoul, famous for producing indie bands. As an added bonus, traveling alongside Seoulsonic this year were 2011 Seoulsonic campadres Galaxy Express, whose album “Noise On Fire” won Best Rock Album at the 2009 Korean Music Awards.
So what’s the future of Korean and music and the DFSB Kollective? “Wide open”, says Bernie. With the diverse and incredible talents coming from Korea and social networking opening the path wide, the need for marketing, protecting and promoting will remain in high demand. Live music will always be a huge draw. The time is ripe for bringing acts that already have internet-based international devotees into the heart and homelands of their waiting fans.
And they’ll certainly generate a few more K-disciples along the way.