Yoon Jong Shin, Yoo Hee Yeol, and the Changing Landscape of K-Pop

Over the last few years, the K-Pop market has shown a diversification of genres, as well as a shift in power among key players.

While there companies that depend heavily on idols, such as the “Big 3,” consisting of SM, YG and JYP, there are also others that have caught the public’s attention with their offerings of ballad singers and singer-songwriters. Smaller companies have found that the internet has given them greater avenues to promote themselves, such as via YouTube and various SNS. Yoon Jong Shin’s Mystic89 and Yoo Hee Yeol’s Antenna Music are two such up-and-coming labels. 

Mystic89 is home to Kim Yeon Woo, Park Ji Yoon, Jang Jae In, Puer Kim, Jo Jung Chi, Harim and Lim Kim, while Antenna Music houses artists such as Lucid Fall, Jung Jae Hyung and Peppertones.

Yoon Jong Shin and Yoo Hee Yeol, the faces of their respective companies, began their careers as singers and have demonstrated themselves as gifted entertainers. This has helped them build public recognition and a high degree of familiarity, which has helped with company branding.

Yoon Jong Shin has taken on acting roles in sitcom “Nonstop 4” and daily drama “Tae Hee, Hye Kyo, Ji Hyun,” and participates actively in variety programs, such as MBC’s “Radio Star.” Yoo Hee Yeol emcees KBS 2TV music program, “Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook,” a role he undertook in 2009, and has appeared on MBC’s “Infinity Challenge Music Festival,” displaying his unique sense of humor.

In addition, both have solidified their reputations as musicians and producers through their appearance on audition programs. Yoon Jong Shin and Yoo Hee Yeol joined the judging panels of Mnet “Superstar K” and SBS “K-Pop Star 3” respectively, a move that put their agencies in the spotlight.

Antenna Music recently carried out some interior work on the building, which was revealed through “K-Pop Star 3.” Spaces, such as practice rooms, were prepared for the “K-Pop Star 3” contestants cast by Antenna Music. Yoo Hee Yeol’s participation in the audition program has either driven, or contributed to, his plans for the expansion of Antenna Music.

Mystic89’s golden girl, Lim Kim, was originally part of Togeworl (Two Months), a duo that made their first appearance through “Superstar K.” She debuted as a solo artist last year, and has clearly made a strong impression on listeners and the music industry. She received newcomer awards at the 2013 Melon Music Awards, the 2014 Golden Disk Awards and the Seoul Music Awards.

Mystic89 has laid the groundwork for it to become an all-round entertainment company, with singers like Park Ji Yoon, and husband-wife couple, director and screenwriter Jang Hang Joon and screenwriter Kim Eun Hee signed to the label.

Meanwhile, Baek Ji Young’s agency, WS Entertainment, has also been strengthening its position, with the signing of rookies Gilgu Bonggu and Yoo Sung Eun (“Voice Korea”) in 2013.

Pop music critic Kang Tae Kyu commented, “K-Pop is becoming richer and more diverse, as companies are developing their own talents and trying to differentiate their music from idol group releases.”

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