Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Inside HYBE’s Latin Expansion With HYBE Latin America CEO Jonghyun ‘JH’ Kah

Inside HYBE’s Latin Expansion With HYBE Latin America CEO Jonghyun ‘JH’ Kah

Following its acquisition of Exile Music last November, HYBE is expanding its global entertainment empire in Latin America, launching new offices in Mexico City, Miami and Los Angeles and introducing new properties to its Latin-focused operation. 

The move includes the introduction of a new label, Docemil Music, and the rebranding of Exile Music as Zarpazo. Another Exile division, Exile podcasts, will be rebranded as Ajá Podcasts. 

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“Latin music is one of the fastest-growing genres in the global market,” says Jonghyun “JH” Kah, CEO of HYBE Latin America. “Additionally, there are very nimble and smart independent local music companies that aim to change the status quo by developing new acts and really sticking with them.” 

By the same token, adds Kah, the Latin market is unique in the longevity enjoyed by its artists, and older songs have a long shelf life. “We aim to rediscover the soul of Latin sound and make it a global phenomenon by focusing on talent that resonates with different generations and has a defining impact on the music world, not just within the Latin sphere,” he says.

The company’s executive team includes Jeremy Norkin, who co-founded Exile Music and is now serving as HYBE Latin America’s COO. Elsewhere, Docemil will be headquartered in Mexico City and led by GM Fernando Grediaga, who brings over 23 years of industry experience, including stints at EMI Music and Universal Music, among others. Zarpazo, formerly Exile Music, is based in Miami and will be led by Grediaga and Santiago Duque, who formerly worked at Rimas Entertainment and Sony Music. Zarpazo’s roster includes emerging artists Magna and Chicocurlyhead. 

HYBE Latin America also includes a boutique touring agency led by Norkin with a diverse roster that includes Quevedo, Cypress Hill, Nach, KHEA and Marc Seguí. 

In expanding in Latin America, HYBE is looking to tap into a burgeoning market with no genre borders, says Kah. 

“We see a lot of diversity in Latin music, and we are not bound to any particular genre. As K-pop can encompass many different genres of music, I believe Latin music can be more diverse in many ways,” he says. “As music transcends boundaries, our targets cannot be confined to geographical borders. Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, which is why we are headquartered in CDMX. Nonetheless, the U.S. Hispanic market is just as big or perhaps even bigger than Mexico. We’re also keeping in mind that Latin artists come from all over the world, including the Americas and Europe.” 

HYBE, of course, is known for developing mega K-pop stars like BTS via a sophisticated artist identification and development infrastructure. “HYBE always seeks out the best talent, allows them to discover their authentic voice, and connects them with their fans. K-pop’s training system is competitive since we’re trying our best to train well-rounded professional artists,” says Kah. “In our new endeavors, we will scout for talent and provide them with the tools they need to improve. Our goal is to ensure that our artists discover their own unique voices and establish stronger relationships with their fans than ever before.” 

That said, Kah adds that HYBE Latin America “won’t just be replicating our practices from Korea, or from the U.S.” Rather, he says, “our system will try to seek the best of both worlds. The Korean approach is highly exclusive, and the initial costs are extremely high. In Latin America, we want to revamp our model, we want to plant seeds and see how they grow. It took K-pop more than a decade to get to where it is. I hope that in 10 years we can confidently say we made the same unique success here.” 

By Michael

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