Syed Muhammad Alaydrus, also known as Don M, is not your regular 31 years old. He founded The Foundation [Found A Talent In Our Nerves] together with his co-founder Md Khairil Anuar and Md Khairil Hasbi just over a decade ago and have since, released 5 albums and published over 550 works under their name.
MNA discovers Mu:con from Don M’s perspective; the challenges and sustainability of being a music producer in Asia, riding on the Korean Wave, and trends that the West are seemingly trying to break into. Recently held in Seoul, Mu:con – a music conference – is an annual event aimed at connecting labels, artists and music professionals worldwide. It has recently been the launch pad for many Korean talents to experience worldwide collaboration and networking opportunities.
Q1. How did you come across Mu:con in the first place?
While attending Music Matters in Singapore in 2012, I was introduced to KOCCA [Korea Creative Content Agency], a government agency that also supported various artists management agencies and their artists at the event. My forte has always been writing and composing for the Hip Hop and R&B genre, and have been fortunate to have met up with one of Korea’s rap legends – Drunken Tiger or Tiger JK and his wife Yoon Mi Rae.
Since then, I have continued my study and indulgence in the [Korean] market and kept in contact with KOCCA, their artists and its management agencies. Despite how little understanding I have of the Korean Music Market then, its culture and work ethics have always intrigued me. I jumped on the opportunity when KOCCA extended an invitation to me in 2013 to attend Mu:con.
In 2015, YG Entertainment’s A&R team scouted me out which resulted in the handover of 133 songs from my archive. The connections I’ve made since then have gradually increased and allowed more opportunities to collaborate with many other great and talented artists. Overtime, the opportunities to meet one-on-one with the owners, CEOs and executives from the music labels and managements have helped me understand the industry and excel further.
Q2. What’s different at Mu:con this year?
Ever since my first visit, the trend has been endlessly changing. In my opinion as a conference delegate, Mu:con’s agenda is definitely aimed at being the next hub for Global Music Networking. Its conference programmes this year included diverse discussions on Asian Music and K-Pop; how to develop an international audience; and ways to incorporate Korean Acts into the US and Japan market. India and China were also in the discussion on how emerging artists could monetise and release their music via regional and international streaming platforms.
Q3. What are some of the most popular genre in Korea right now?
In terms of genre, it’s still heavily focused on hip hop and pop. Almost every idol or rookie group has a rapper with songs crossing over various genres. Aimed at a more international format, Mnet’s reality show like ‘Show Me The Money’ and ‘Unpretty Rapstar’, has further promoted the Korean hip hop culture gaining a lot of worldwide attention.
As for EDM or electronic music, it definitely has the potential to grow even larger than what it is today. Its popularity continues to expand as we see groups like Idiotape experimenting with the market; creating works that cross over between electronic music and in this case with rock.
Q4. Why do you see Korea as an important market for a creative person like you?
The Korean government has been supportive of the music industry distributing much of its budget to advocate and train young talents. My experience collaborating with them has been an incredibly positive one. What is truly commendable is their passion and hard work put into achieving success. Their support for each other and responsibility for their work have been some of the reasons why I will continue to work with them in the future.
Producers and songwriters need to stop believing that they will be signed by labels and gain overnight success. The Korean market has been and will remain complex. Accepting work with anyone outside of South Korea can be an intricately interwoven complexity involving politics and strict hierarchy systems. Nonetheless, there are huge potentials and thirsts in Korea for international collaboration and new ideas to come through.
Don M is a producer, composer, songwriter, artist and multiple award winner. He has collaborated with some of the most notable artists from the USA, Europe, Korea, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Japan. He was also previously interviewed by MBC and Asian Music Network. For more details about his works and achievements, please click here.