By Han Sang-hee
The "old boys" of K-pop ― Seo Tai-ji and Jo Sung-mo ― and hip-hop group Epik High are employing unique ideas and marketing strategies to lure music fans.
Jo recently released ``Second Half,'' his first album in four years, after finishing mandatory military service. In a departure from the practice, he appeared in music channel Mnet's music documentary ``Hidden Track by Jo Sung-mo'' to announce his new single.
Singers usually avoid introducing their new tracks in public before the album's actual release.
``It's hard to introduce all of my songs in one album and I also wanted to show how hard singers work to bring one out to the world,'' Jo said.
The program started before his album's release this month, introducing his new songs one by one, showing Jo playing the guitar and recording, along with his personal comments of how he wrote and sang the songs on the album.
The program proved to be a great success, with more than 60,000 copies sold on its day of release.
Meanwhile, three-man band Epik High held an on-line showcase through the band's Web site, www.mapthesoul.com. Singers usually hold showcases before the release of new albums at stylish restaurants, cafes and clubs, but the band decided to go online.
``We wanted to share the stage with everyone through the Internet instead of holding a one time event,'' Epik High member DJ Tukutz said.
After separating from their previous agency, the group founded the label ``Map the Soul'' and produced their new book album, ``Soul: Map the Soul.'' The album is comprised of a book and a compact disk and is bilingual with English and Korean lyrics. Members were in charge of everything from producing and sales to promotion.
Epik High currently sells the new album and the sound sources exclusively at their Web site.
When it comes to special events for promotion, it's hard to beat the so-called ``Culture President,'' Seo Tai-ji.
The 37-year-old singer made headlines last year by making crop circles in fields in Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province, for the promotion of his first single, ``Seotaiji 8th Atomos Part Moai.'' For his second single ``Seotaiji 8th Atomos Part Secret'' and the title song, ``Juliet,'' Seo prepared ``Missing Taiji,'' provoking curiosity among fans. The teaser video showed images of the movie ``Romeo and Juliet,'' Korean cultural artifacts, Einstein and sentences like ``Defining the hidden truth under dark obscurity'' and ``They're all connected,'' giving a faint idea of what his new single would sound and look like.
Newcomers are also joining in with mysterious, special promotion ideas. AJ, dubbed the next Rain, made a video showing himself appearing on the streets, surprising passersby while wearing a mask. Singer MAC also posted a video of him singing and participating in the ``free hug'' movement at major streets in Seoul.
``The number one songs on music charts change every week, and it depends on how you promote the singer and the songs. If you don't stand out, no one will recognize you. This goes for top singers, too. If they don't have brilliant promotion ideas, they will not stay on top for long,'' an official from Cube Entertainment said.