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Hi-Five Talks Business Development and Building Trust with Clients

After more than a decade of success supplying music for South Korean film and television, Hi-Five shares their strategies for building a highly effective global music company in our interview with CEO & Founder, Chan Wook Kim (CK).

1. How did Hi-Five begin as a company? 

Hi-Five first started out in the publishing sector specializing in movies and television dramas where we administered Korean writers. However, having a lot of experience and a good reputation in the music library field, we started getting requests for production/library music from my clients which has led to our expansion as a global company that sub-publishes music from all over the world. The company was launched on Christmas back in 2010. 

2. Can you describe the different departments within Hi-Five and what they do?

Our departments are mainly divided into Music, International Business, Publishing, Production, Marketing, and Operations - Business & Administration. 

The members of our Music team are the main players when it comes to organizing any new music we receive. They review and classify new tracks for our clients to use for future projects as well as pitch tracks to our clients. 

The International Business team oversees researching and communicating with foreign original publishers and sub-publishers. They chase down future international leads, review partnership contracts, and keep a healthy relationship between our original publishers and sub-publishers. 

Our Publishing team mainly deals with commercial works – music used in TV and films and works closely with Korean writers/composers. 

Our Operations and Marketing teams work together when it comes to certain projects, but Operations is typically in charge of accounting and logistics while our Marketing team is responsible for customer service, sending out ads/newsletters, etc.

Last but not least, the Production team focuses mostly on A&R, artist management, and content production. 

3. What are the most prominent changes within the Korean market that you’ve seen since the company’s foundation in 2010?

Maybe media – though that applies to everyone in the world (although we do have the fastest internet in the world). There’s the capability of sending/receiving audio through platforms such as SourceAudio, as well as the impact of media platforms like YouTube and Netflix. It’s how we “consume” information and content as well as how we communicate and interact with clients and customers.

4. Has the pandemic affected the company’s work much?

We would be lying if we said the pandemic didn’t affect us. It definitely had a big impact on our business and work. A lot of production work regarding movies or TV shows have either gotten delayed or cancelled due to the requirement of social distancing and just being safe in general. It also seems a lot of production companies are also struggling due to their funding being cut. We’re trying our best to stay positive and push through these times like how everyone else is. 

5. Hi-Five works with music companies from all over the world. What’s the most important piece of advice you can give on building a global network? 

Communication. We try to be there for our clients and keep them updated whenever we can because we appreciate their work and effort. Even though we can’t meet in person as of now, we love catching up at conventions such as PMC or NAB. Hope to see everyone soon! 

6. What’s the best way to get a music supervisor to listen to your tracks?

We try to get our clients to listen to music in a couple of different ways. The first step would be to do some research on the company/music supervisor first. Figure out what they like or don’t like, and it’ll most likely give you some sort of direction. For example, we like to try and create personal playlists that fit our clients’ needs instead of just giving them access to our SourceAudio to search for music themselves. We also think meeting face to face is important as it builds the relationship when reviewing the tracks together. 

Once we start working with a client, we regularly review the usage including what each client downloaded and what was used and placed. Then for future briefs we’ll have a better idea of what they want so the playlists are more trustworthy. Ultimately, the quality of music for their specific needs is what makes us different – we let them know which music library is unique or special for a specific genre or style!  The details are unfortunately a secret!

7. In the US, synch can be a crowded space. Is there a lot of competition to secure placements in the South Korean market? If so, how have you worked to make Hi-Five stand out from the competition?

Yes, it is definitely a competitive space here as well! For us to compete with well-known commercial tracks and rising platforms for content creators, we think that having a repertoire with comprehensive genres and high-quality tracks as well as great customer service for music search and licensing is a good combination for us.

8. Is there a specific media format that you focus on as a customer base? Or does the company pursue many different media formats?

We focus on every area – television (including advertising), film, OTT (including television shows and Netflix Originals), public offline events, corporate internal broadcasting, education, mobile, etc.  We don’t discriminate.

Having a deep and extensive library has allowed us to separate ourselves from our competition. Also, in order to stay relevant, it’s important to try and stay open-minded on all media formats whether it’s new, old, or groundbreaking technology. The more diverse, the more opportunities we can try to capitalize on. 

Most of the customers in traditional media are also transitioning or getting familiar with “new” media and we think it is necessary to expand if we do want to grow further.

Our workflow is based on trust. Although each client is different, our Music team is highly detailed and knows each labels’ strong points. By having a strong and reliable team, we can always rely on them to satisfy our clients’ needs.

9. Do you have a company mission that guides your business development or customer experience? 

Our focus is to definitely be the best in the music licensing sector in South Korea. To do that, we identify and research trends, stay on the lookout for upcoming projects, and just know what the landscape is looking like. We also make sure to stay up to date on any copyright law changes and try our best to put it into practice. 

10. Any all-time favorite placements you’re especially proud of?

No Sheet Music’s track called “Something New” by Lee Henry which was used in an ad for a café called A Twosome Place. A lot of people were curious about where the track came from and ended up going to the label’s website to look it up. Also, if you look up the ad online, it’s one of the most viewed and commented placements we have. 

Friday, 11 June 2021
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Upcoming Online Music Industry Events and Resources – Summer 2021

Check out our handpicked list of the best online resources for composers and music businesses in the coming months.

AIMP Global Music Publishing Summit 2021 – June 7-9

The Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) will host its fourth annual Global Music Publishing Summit this summer, a three day virtual event full of keynotes, panels and creative forums for the independent music publishing community. The event will begin with Creator Day on June 7, followed by The Business of Publishing on June 8, and wrapping with International Day on June 9. The 2021 program will include keynotes from songwriter, producer, and Big Loud founder Craig Wiseman in conversation with musician, publisher, and ASCAP Executive Vice President of Membership John Titta; and from Gadi Oron, Director General of CISAC; panels such as with singer-songwriter Andrew Jannakos and his team on Tik Tok success; as well as talks with Richard James Burgess (A2IM), Mitch Glazier (RIAA), Bart Herbison (NSAI), David Israelite (NMPA), Teri Nelson-Carpenter (Reel Musik Werks/AIMP), Tony Alexander (MIME), Neil Gillis (Round Hill), Mike Molinar (Big Machine), Jim Selby (Concord Music), Kathy Spanberger (Peermusic), John Ozier (Reservoir), and many more!

Register to attend at aimp-nyc.square.site.

North American Conference on Video Game Music 2021 – June 12-13

NACVGM brings together professionals from all over the world to discuss music in video games. Segments from the 2021 program include “Rethinking Diatonic Rhythm through RPG Battle Music”, “A Succession of Pitches and Witches: Musical Constructions of Madness in Final Fantasy VIII”, “Seeing Musical Rhythm: Audiovisual Disruption in Thumper”, “Video Game Sound as Educational Space”,  “Composing for Chinese Instruments”, and much more!

Most segments are publicly sourced, and while the deadline for submissions for the 2021 conference passed in February, reach out to the NACVGM program committee at nacvgm@gmail.com if you’d like to submit content for the 2022 program.

Register to attend at vgmconference.weebly.com.

A2IM Indie Week 2021 – June 14-17

A2IM Indie Week is a four-day international conference and networking event aimed at maximizing the global impact of independent music. Featuring keynotes, panels, exclusive networking sessions, and more, Indie Week has historically drawn an attendance of over 1200 participants from over 30 countries. This year’s events itinerary includes segments on NFTs, data driven marketing, consumer listening trends, Spotify, Bandcamp, and Amazon workshops for artists, the future of live music, neighboring rights, metadata management, building and scaling your independent label, elevating underrepresented voices, the future of streaming rates, and a fireside chat with SoundExchange President and CEO Mike Huppe.

Register to attend at a2im.org/indieweek.

Midem Africa – June 28-July 1

Midem Africa is the first pan-African digital music event dedicated to the continent’s most vibrant music markets – accessible to all, free of charge. Embark upon a four-day journey that will map out the African music industries, highlight the most exciting trends and opportunities, and provide key insights and practical tools to foster networking and accelerate careers and business among key local music players and their regional and international counterparts. Africa is poised for tremendous growth in the global music marketplace.  With increasing streaming volumes and revenues, all eyes are focused on the continent to see how music grows and exports. Through a series of panels and keynotes, leading artists and executives from all corners of the continent will share their insights into the key trends and the most exciting stories from their markets.

Register to attend at midem.com.

Friday, 4 June 2021
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The SourceAudio Adobe Premiere Pro Extension is Now Available in the Adobe Exchange

Music hosting libraries can now send their clients to the Exchange where they can download and start using the extension, free of charge.

Download the extension here.

We’re thrilled to announce our latest step forward integrating with Adobe to provide creatives with the most powerful media production tools available anywhere.

The SourceAudio Adobe Premiere Pro Extension provides Adobe users with access to the largest collection of premium-quality music for licensing in the world, over 60 million tracks from the SourceAudio platform, all without ever leaving the Adobe interface.

Our integration allows users to audition and implement music with a more streamlined workflow than ever before. 

  • Open the panel, log in, and access every library the account is currently registered with
  • Run searches and stream tracks from the cloud all within the panel
  • Build custom playlists to organize audio assets
  • Drag and drop tracks into the project timeline to immediately initiate a download and audition the audio within the production
  • Download entire albums to save in your SourceAudio folder in Adobe Premiere Pro

Export cue sheets from inside the panel with the click of a button. We’ve transformed the time-consuming, manual process of cue sheet creation into a fully automated export tool by leveraging our robust metadata infrastructure. Instantly populate complete cue sheets without ever leaving Adobe, and ensure proper royalty distribution for every project.

It’s one simple solution for music providers and video editors to directly connect with each other where all their tools converge.

Send your creative clients here to download the extension from the Adobe Exchange.

Friday, 28 May 2021
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NFTs Are Providing High-Value Music Placement Opportunities

NFTs have made headlines in recent months after the medium went mainstream when a single jpeg sold for $69 million in March.

Creators everywhere are having a field day with the high-value, low-friction nature of NFT commerce, which offers music producers an equally extraordinary licensing opportunity.

An NFT, the acronym for “non-fungible token,” acts as a certificate of authenticity for both tangible and virtual assets. “Non-fungible” means the NFT file is unique and unable to be duplicated or replaced by any kind of copy. The NFT file is stored within a worldwide blockchain network, and any ownership changes are verified and recorded in a log that can be accessed by the public. 

While there are no limits to the assets that can be tied to an NFT, short-form videos are top sellers, and some music libraries have seized the opportunity to secure high-value placements.

One such library belongs to SourceAudio client Abel Okugawa Music, LLC. Founder Abel Okugawa explains the nature of NFT music licensing is a perfect complement to the boutique music library business model and his SourceAudio library.

Okugawa also relays that collaboration with an NFT artist ultimately demands quality over quantity, while a branded, well-organized library interface allows him to shop his tracks to NFT collaborators and utilize references to create bespoke audio assets.

NFTs featuring Okugawa’s music and sound design have sold for tens of thousands of dollars on Makersplace, one of the most popular NFT marketplaces. The company’s self-proclaimed goal  is to “[empower] creators to better protect and sell their digital work to a global audience.” Makersplace also actively works to curate their platform by reviewing and approving seller accounts. Additionally, their marketplace offers creators a unique value add wherein they receive a 10% royalty for any resale of their work.

Other NFT marketplaces include Foundation, Nifty Gateway, OpenSea, SuperRare, and Crypto.com, where you can find drops (NFT releases) from music industry leaders like Beatport, a platform that recently released a series of short-form audio-visual collaborations.

Check out some of the NFTs that feature Abel Okugawa’s music here, here, and here, or browse his works on his SourceAudio library and Foundation page.

Friday, 21 May 2021
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Client Feature: Indart Music Talks Latin Music and his Tireless Work Ethic

We recently spoke with Daniel Indart, CEO of Indart Music and Latin Music Specialists,
who shared the details of his rise to success through his relentless pursuit of quality.

How did these companies first start out?

Indart Music began out of my very first opportunities to make jingles and music for commercials.

I got started in the business right after I graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, when I moved out to Los Angeles and really struggled in the beginning, but that started to change once I finally got my music into the hands of an agency creative. After they heard a sampler of my music, they called me up and asked me if I could make something for a Coors Light Christmas advertisement, and that was what started it all.

That job was a big success, and I reinvested all the money in equipment, an office, and formally started the company as a jingle house. We were like Killer Music, Who Did That Music, HUM, they were all jingle houses, the same as Indart Music, but we were unique because we specialized in Latin Music.

How were you producing your music back then?

Production has changed so much over the years. In the beginning in 1984 when I first graduated everyone was working with drum machines, and I was the same, I had a DMX.

Right after that, everything started moving into sampling, so there was a lot of learning and growing to do there. I bought the Akai S900, my very first sampler, and I did a bunch of great commercials with that thing. My commercial spots were very catchy because I was a strong songwriter so with the help of this new technology, making those 30 or 60 seconds spots was easy for me. I was able to work very quickly, and for a long time I did everything in Digital Performer until we finally moved into Pro Tools, which was even better, and Pro Tools is still my axe today.

Can you share any events or turning points in the company’s history that have had a lasting impact or shaped how you approach your work?

The first one was definitely the first break I had, because before that I was doing anything I could just to break in. The Coors commercial took me on a run of four or five years where I was doing all the scoring for Coors’ national campaigns for the Latin market. That opened me up to other work and other agencies started noticing me because I could now bring in a demo that showed all the styles I had worked on.

The Latino market in the United States is very particular because it has many subcultures. The music for Latinos in Texas doesn’t sound like it does in LA or New York or Miami, so for every Coors spot I had to make four or five versions, one for each region of the United States. In a single day I would be recording Norteño, pop, commercial Latin, salsa, merengue, and reggaeton, all for different versions of the same 30 second spot for Coors. That definitely made me an expert in all these Latin styles which segues into being a music expert of Latin music for films and TV; it gave me so much experience production-wise.

With commercials you really have to be on your chops because they'll call you at noon and they'll want something for tomorrow morning totally finished, arranged, with singers, everything. When I got one of those requests I would sit down and just get to work, I wouldn't eat, I wouldn't sleep, I would just work, and the next morning I would deliver something amazing. I had to do it, because otherwise I would lose the job. Every job was a competition; I was competing against the American jingle houses, and I didn't want to lose. I just kept pushing my chops more and more and more so that I was really efficient and really good at what I did.

What would you say is the most important change you've seen in the industry over the years and how have you adapted?

I came to LA in 1984, and from then to today the major change was the move to digital MP3s. That changed everything completely, it was like two planets, seriously.

Before that change, I was sending motorcycle messengers carrying reel-to-reel tapes and D.A.T.s to agencies for approval. Then they would call me back with adjustments for the track, so I would make changes and send another reel. I can’t tell you how many overnight packages I sent to New York or Texas or Chicago, hundreds and hundreds. And if the session didn't end on time, like if it went until 10 at night, I would have to go to the airport and find some service for it to get there at 6 in the morning in Chicago. When MP3s came along it was unbelievable, but MP3s actually came with their own set of problems. The transition was not always smooth, so it took five or six years I would say before everything settled into digital.

Where did you learn the ropes of the licensing industry?

Everywhere. After I got that first job I knew this was what I wanted, so I just ran with it and never looked back. Berklee didn't teach me business, what that place gave me is the confidence in myself to solve any musical problem, but business-wise, nothing from my undergraduate. I took business courses at UCLA extension for many years. Every couple of years I would go and take a semester, and the teachers were incredible. I learned business administration, taxes, budgeting, networking, everything that makes a business run. I always applied what I learned immediately and then closely monitored the impacts of these developments on the business.

I remember once after three of four years where I got a ton of work, I had all these major accounts from Disneyland to Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Toyota, but I finished the year and I had to pay all these taxes and I ended up with no money. Literally from six figures to nothing, so obviously I knew I was doing something completely wrong and I had to learn how to fix it. That’s when I started in on financial courses that immediately changed the way I was doing my managing, finances, and budgeting. The next year was totally different. I had a ton of money left, I could invest it, I bought my first home, but if I wouldn't have gone and invested in an education, forget it, I would still be in the street. You just have to go out and learn. The information is out there.

Can you tell us anything else about the evolution of the Latin sector over the years? Does your business follow those trends closely?

Yes, I have to be up to date with the trends and the trends are changing constantly, so the end product is changing constantly.

For a while it was all the Mexican styles and then it changed to reggaeton and reggaeton itself changed so many times over the years and now it's a fusion. Actually for a while it was hip-hop, everything was hip-hop, so that changed into reggaeton and everything else. I have to be on top of all industry changes all the time and keep adjusting the music, as well as any technical business aspects, I have to keep track of new clients, and keep track of old clients retiring. The business side and the music side both need to stay completely current.

Synch can be a crowded space, do you make it a point to stand out, or do you just stand out by doing the best job you can?

The latter. There are many music providers but the quality of what I come up with is superb. Nothing leaves my office or my studio without being approved, meaning it's the very best we can do at any given time, not only production and sound wise, but compositionally, commercially, every performance from every performer has to be top-notch. That consistent quality keeps clients coming back.

What’s the best way to get a music supervisor to listen to your tracks?

My business has grown mostly from word of mouth, meaning recommendations from one supervisor to another. 

When we get a call from a new client, we ask how they heard of us and typically it’s from another supervisor. I would say more than 80% of my total clientele came through referrals. Once I’m in contact with a supervisor I make sure to keep in touch by sending out a monthly newsletter to all my contacts where I’ll discuss a specific topic like “the difference between salsa and mambo”, or “what is cumbia great for”, or “how merengue is used in films”, something to perk their curiosity and get them interested.

I don’t want to make a hard sell, I just want to give them something of value because that’s how you build a brand.

Any all time favorite placements that you are especially proud of?

I'm constantly proud of the latest thing that we've done, it's just this year's been quite interesting because of the pandemic. We've been hit just like everybody else so that we’re only doing about half of what we were before, but gradually it’s coming back and more is happening. Before last year, there was a ton of stuff happening, a lot of movies and television that I enjoyed working on and that I feel very proud of, including a long-standing relationship with CSI. NCIS is another one that we did a ton of work on. The Sopranos was another one, it was an incredible show to be a part of; we created recorded music for the show as well as any music that was played by live musicians on the show. Dexter is another one where I did a ton of music and it was all in Miami, so it was very contemporary, hip Miami music and I really love Miami.  There are many projects to choose from where I had a lot of fun in the process.

Friday, 14 May 2021
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