Over the past decade, the Korean wave has taken over the international space. The barriers are slowly breaking. With the love for Korean music and dramas witnessing a surge in the global atmosphere, so is the demand for more concerts, fan meetings, and interactions between the fans and the stars. While India already experienced the Hallyu or Korean wave several years ago, in a way, the pandemic did give a huge boost to the Korean content, especially to the Korean dramas. People were diving into Korean music, exploring new artists and well, the dramas have become a go-to option for many.
Amid this, a celebrity agency is trying to bridge the gap between the stars from Asia and their fans. We are talking about MAXPERIENCE (MPE). It was established in 2015 in Hong Kong and they went on to successfully launch branches in Asia and the US. They “believe the key successful factor of MPE is localized service by a local expert and this enables MPE to provide bespoke and compact business solution to our celebrities, partners and brands.” They have worked in promotional activities for many popular stars including Kang Daniel, Jackson Wang, CHERRY BULLET, MAMAMOO, P1Harmony, TREASURE, NCT DREAM, ROCKET PUNCH, ASTRO, among many more.
Bollywood Hungama spoke to MPE Founder Max Jang and COO Raymond Cho about their work, how the artist promotion planning is done, whether India is the next market they are planning to explore with the South Korean stars, and the possibility of big concerts in the future.
When was the idea conceptualized to kick off an organization like MPE?
MAX JANG, Founder: I believe entertainment is the gateway to culture. Thus, I initially thought If I could build a professional celebrity agency that can lead global entertainment projects with celebrities in Asia, I can possibly impress and inspire fans around the globe by making their dream come true. Furthermore, In the U.S., there are numerous professional agencies such as WME, CAA, and UTA with more than a few decades of history. These agencies have now become billion-dollar companies representing a myriad of renowned celebrities in Hollywood and the Western market. Unlike the U.S., there was no Hollywood-style celebrity agency with a giant scale and great expertise in the Asian entertainment market. At this point, I was motivated to launch the MAXPEREICNE (MPE), an agency that solely focuses on accelerating the growth of Asian celebrities and maximizing the experience of brands and fans.
Taking the artists to different parts of the world and connecting them to Asia and beyond, how challenging is it to convince companies to dive into markets they haven’t explored before?
MAX JANG, Founder: Basically, we are connecting and accelerating the growth of celebrities regardless of their backgrounds as long as they have potentials and demands from a specific market. Whenever we are convincing our clients to explore new markets, it is always about the trustfulness and reliability of the partner thus, we are highlighting the following factors to our clients. Therefore, the first thing that we highlight is our experiences and insights into the Asian entertainment industry and this enables our clients to track our records in Asia and perceive us as professional. The second thing that we highlight is the MPE Value Chain which covers from Global Promotion Campaign, Live Event, and Brand Endorsement to create an economical value in new markets. With this, our clients recognize the potential value and grounds to collaborate with us.
The pandemic has brought the world to stand still but stars in South Korea continue to connect in several ways. What do you think we can learn from the way they continue to spread entertainment and culture through several virtual shows?
RAYMOND CHO, COO: Through various types of virtual shows held during the pandemic, we could again realize the power of well-made content and recognize the future direction of the entertainment industry. I would say online concerts will stay but not a general streaming format like today and I believe online concerts have full of potential to be evolved with the latest technologies such as VR, AR, AI, and 5G. When we looking at the pros and cons of those virtual shows, the pros will be scalability with those latest technologies and the cons will be the transition of user behavior which will be the most difficult obstacle as fans are getting used to offline events for more than a few decades.
India is a huge market. Music is a huge part. We have seen artists like IN2IT, ALEXA, KARD, VAV among others perform in India. But, we are yet to see the bigger groups take the plunge when it comes to concerts. Though the fandoms have seen a tremendous rise over the past few years, what restricts the promotions and companies from taking a step to dive into a huge market like India?
RAYMOND CHO, COO: As celebrities always wish to perform in the hall with full of their fans and in this point, India will be one of the ideal countries to be considered for the world tour of major celebrities once market size increases to a meaningful level for the investment and essential factors such as infrastructure and hospitality for large scale events are supported and prepared. Besides this, India has vibrant 1030 young populations with huge support for K-pop and there are numerous brands that are interested to support and sponsor those events to share happiness with their customers.
In the past year, we are witnessing agencies take a keen interest in promotions in India though it is still on a surface level. Do you think, in coming years, would that change?
MAX JANG, Founder: To change and make those entertainment companies be interested and attracted by Indian market, we should improve infrastructure and market size. Firstly, infrastructure takes a major part whenever K-pop celebrities decide the destination for their tour because wherever they are, their main concern is to deliver the best experience for their fans. Secondly, the market size for K-pop and other international pop should increase more. It is because promoters are the major investor for those events and their only concern is whether they can make a profit or not. Thus, market size would be one of the main indicators for promoters to consider making investment decisions. However, there is also continuous support from the Korean government to increase the market size and popularity of K-pop in India. Furthermore, Korea and India have been maintaining a good relationship for more than 45 years and we have also invited a K-pop idol group called Snuper to New Delhi for the K-pop event arranged by the Korean Culture Center in India. I believe this kind of continuous effort to increase the market size of K-pop will come to fruition in the near future.
India which was already witnessing a change, Korean content got a lot of boost amid the pandemic since people were at home and were keen on exploring. Are the agencies and MPE keeping a keen eye on India?
RAYMOND CHO, COO: Definitely! It is always a huge pleasure for us to have a market like India which has huge 1030 populations with high potential in K-pop. In terms of K-pop, Indian fans are showing great support for their favorite celebrities and they are rapidly growing overseas fandom for K-pop. As we all know, pop culture is all about interaction. If there are no fans, no celebrities as well. Therefore, passionate Indian fans are important and will serve an important role for not only K-pop but other international pop from other countries because India is the country of Bollywood and they have a well-structured local pop market.
From consultations to global promotions, what’s next for MPE and how do you want to take your vision forward?
MAX JANG, Founder: This year, we will mainly focus on arranging global promotions and brand endorsements for Asian celebrities and we believe these to be the best opportunities for providing a contact point between celebrities and fans and accelerating the growth of celebrities at this moment. Moreover, we will be expanding our collaboration pool to Chinese, Japanese, and Hollywood celebrities to create and provide broader interaction opportunities for their fans in Asia. As the leading celebrities agency in Asia, we are always dedicated to maximizing the value of our partners, celebrities, and brands. The one main reason behind this dedication is fans and this is crucial because we believe nothing can be done without fans.