Kakao M
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Kakao M
Kakao M Corp.
Native name
? ?
Seoul Records (1978-2000, 2005-2008)
YBM Seoul Records (2000-2005)
LOEN Entertainment (2008-2018)
Public Jusikhoesa (J.H.)
Traded as
FoundedOctober 1978; 40 years ago (1978-10)
FounderMin Yeong-bin
Number of locations
3 (see list)
Area served
Key people
Lee Jae-wook (CEO)[1]
Kim Young-suk (EVP/Head of Music Content Company)
Lee Jun-ho (EVP/Head of Video Content Company)[a]
  • Music Production
  • Media Production
  • Record Distribution
  • Licensing
  • Publishing
RevenueIncreaseUS$ 323.2 million (2014)[2]
IncreaseKRW 65.9 billion (2015)
KRW 58.4 billion (2014)[2]
IncreaseKRW 50.6 billion (2015)
KRW 45.7 billion (2014)[2]
IncreaseKRW 303.8 billion (2014[2])
OwnerKakao Corp. (67.76%)[3]
NH Investment & Securities (6.03%)[4]
Number of employees
361 (as of October 2016 (2016-10))[2]
ParentYBM Group (1978-2005)
SK Group (2005-2016)
Affinity Equity Partners (2013-2016)[5]
Kakao Corp. (2016-present)[3][6]
Divisionssee list
Subsidiariessee list
Korean name
Revised RomanizationKakao M
McCune-ReischauerK'ak'ao M

Kakao M (KoreanM; formerly Seoul Records, YBM Seoul Records and LOEN Entertainment) is a South Korean entertainment company established by Min Yeong-bin in 1978. It is currently one of the largest co-publisher companies in South Korea. The company operates as a record label, talent agency, music production company, event management, concert production company, and music publishing house.

As of 2015, the company was the leading record company in South Korea by net revenue according to the statistics compiled by the Korea Music Content Industry Association (KMCIA) through the Gaon Music Chart (30.4%); it is also the second leading company in terms of album sales (25.4%).[7] LOEN Entertainment became a subsidiary of Kakao in January 2016 and was subsequently renamed two years later.[3]

Online music sales account for most of the company's profit, with 93.9% of revenue coming from online music sales. The label also distributes CDs of some other entertainment agencies in South Korea through its branch LOEN Music, but makes less than 5% of its revenue through them.[8]

As of February 2018, the company's chief executive officer is Lee Jae-wook.[1]


1978-2008: Founding of Seoul Records

Kakao M was founded as Seoul Records in 1978 by Min Yeong-bin as a subsidiary of YBM Sisa, a company mainly involved in creating language-learning tapes.[9] The company was officially registered in 1982, and in 1984 it began to produce and distribute records of classical and traditional music. It was registered as a venture capital company in 1999 when it began to sell albums while operating an online shop. In 2000, the company's name was changed to YBM Seoul Records and it began to operate on KOSDAQ. The company joined the IFPI in 2003. Korean conglomerate SK Telecom bought a 60% share of the company in 2005, and YBM Seoul Records subsequently became part of SK Group.[10]

2008-2016: Name change to LOEN Entertainment

As of 2008, the company has been known as LOEN Entertainment. LOEN stands for: Live On Entertainment Networks and LOve + ENtertainment

Kakao M took charge of SK Telecom's online music distribution service, MelOn, in 2009. MelOn is currently the most used online music sales site in South Korea.[11][12]

In 2012, the company signed a deal with streaming site Viki so that content from their artists (such as IU, Brown Eyed Girls and Drunken Tiger) would be featured on their site.[13]

In August 2012, the recording artists under Kakao M collaborated to release a collaborative EP titled LOEN Tree Summer Story under the collective title 'LOEN Tree'.[14]

On July 18, 2013, Affinity Equity Partners, through its subsidiary Star Invest Holdings Ltd., bought 52.56% of Kakao M's shares, leaving SK Group with only 15%.[5] Five months later, Star Invest Holdings acquired RealNetworks, Inc.'s 8.83% stake in the company.[15] The company was reorganized to include two labels: "LOEN Tree" (Jo Yeong-cheol) and "Collabodadi" (Shinsadong Tiger).[16]

On December 18, 2013, Kakao M acquired 70% of shares in Starship Entertainment, making it as an independent subsidiary of the company.[17]

2016-present: Acquisition by Kakao and name change

On January 11, 2016, Kakao M was acquired by Kakao Corporation.[3][6]

On May 11, 2017, Kakao M announced its strategic drama production alliance with CJ E&M's drama production subsidiary Studio Dragon Corporation. Among the plans under the alliance is producing dramas based on web novels and webtoons on KakaoPage and Daum Webtoons (which copyrights are managed by Podotree, the web literature subsidiary of Kakao).[18] (Kakao M first entered the drama production industry three years ago through the cable-web drama Another Parting, which starred Seo In-guk and Wang Ji-won.) On August 25, Kakao M announced that its joint venture with Studio Dragon will be called as Mega Monster.[19]

The company has also signed actress Kim So-hyun through setting up her own independent label, E&T Story Entertainment, which is led by her long-time manager Park Chan-woo.[20]

Upon approval by the company's board of directors in a December 20 meeting, the company is known as Kakao M Corporation (Korean? ?) since March 23, 2018.[21] The letter M in the new corporate name stands for three things: Melon (the company's flagship online music service), Music (the company's core business) and Media (another business that the company will advance to in the future). The company will now also have a corporate catchphrase, We Entertain.[22][23]

Barely a month before the company's relaunch under its new name, Sean Seong-hoon Park resigned from both his positions as CEO of the company and chief strategy officer of its parent company, and later moved to Netmarble Games. He was replaced by Melon division head Lee Jae-wook.[1]

On January 13, 2019, Kakao M announced to acquire Blossom Entertainment.[24]

On February 13, 2019, KAKAO M released a statement that Plan A Entertainment and Fave Entertainment will be merging on April 1st.[25]

Corporate identity

Company name

The company name is Kakao M, the letter M stands for:

  • Melon (the company's flagship online music service)
  • Music (the company's core business)
  • Media (another business that the company will advance to in the future)


Catalog numbers

As of 2015, Kakao M currently uses two types of catalog number codes for its releases: the L10000**** series (now at the -5000 suffix) and the L20000**** series (now at the -1000 suffix).


Price fixing

Kakao M, along with then-parent SK Telecom, was one of the 15 companies fined and sued by the Korean FTC for price rigging in 2011. The company was fined $9.6 million for its role in the scheme.[26]

On October 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of South Korea handed out a 100 million won fine each to Kakao M and its closest competitor Genie Music (then known as KT Music) for colluding in price fixing, dating back to a case filed in 2008. Co-CEO Shin Won-soo, who was the sole CEO at the time being, was also sentenced to pay 10 million won.[27]

Incredible promotion conflict

In 2013, Kakao M made a deal with C-JeS Entertainment to promote and distribute Junsu's second studio album Incredible. Days before the album's release, C-Jes was reportedly notified by Kakao M that they would distribute the album but had scrapped plans for promotional marketing and broadcasting Junsu's upcoming showcase on MelOn, although they would be able to broadcast it on LOEN TV. Promotional banners regarding the album's release on MelOn also disappeared from Kakao M's social media accounts. C-JeS subsequently threatened to remove mentions of Kakao M from Junsu's upcoming showcase and to file for a civil appeal to the Fair Trade Commission and Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission.[28]

In response, Kakao M stated that they were still in discussions regarding the album's promotion and that nothing had been confirmed prior to the relevant article's release. They pointed to the showcase event page on MelOn's homepage still being up as evidence that promotions were going ahead as planned. C-JeS responded saying that they had begun receiving pre-orders for the album and entries for the showcase event without a response from Kakao M.[29][30]

Following media attention, the two companies met on July 8 and resolved the dispute. Incredible was promoted and distributed by Kakao M as planned.[31]


Kakao M has three companies, which the concept calls as "company in company" (CIC). The company also plans to set up another one in the future.[32][33]

Melon Company

Melon Company[34] (Korean; RRmellon keompeoni) is Kakao M's online music service company, operating Melon (short for melody on),[35][36] the most popular music service in Korea, with 59% of all users in South Korea as of November 2013. That year Soompi ranked MelOn as the third most influential entity in the K-pop industry.[37]

Music Content Company

The logos of LOEN Music and 1theK

Music Content Company[38] (Korean; RReum-ak keontencheu keompeoni) is Kakao M's music content production company, which includes the music content brand 1theK (which was known as LOEN Music before February 2014), ticket selling portal Melon Ticket[39] and distributes over 300 titles per year, working with independent agencies to invest in music production. The name '1theK' indicates its aim of creating one source for worldwide K-pop content.[40]


Kakao M manages its artists within the companies under its Music Content Company, including LOEN Tree (2012) and Collabodadi (2014). Collabodadi artists were moved to LOEN Tree in September 2015 and later LOEN Tree renamed as Fave Entertainment in February 2017.

In 2015, Kakao M acquired independent label Starship Entertainment and Cube Entertainment subsidiaries label A Cube Entertainment (which later was renamed Plan A Entertainment), as well as King Kong Entertainment acquired by Starship in 2015.

In June 2016, Kakao M established an independent label Mun Hwa In.

In December 2017, Kakao M established an one-person agency E&T Story Entertainment for actress Kim So-hyun, which is led by her long-time manager Park Chan-woo.[41] As January 2018, Kakao M's independent label Plan A Entertainment takes over the agency.

In January 2019, Kakao M acquired independent label Blossom Entertainment.

On June 27, 2018, Kakao M made strategic investments and created partnerships with three actor management agencies BH Entertainment, J,WIDE-Company, Management SOOP, and Korea's leading advertisement model casting agency Ready Entertainment in order to globalize its content. [42]

On January 13, 2019, Kakao M announced to acquire Blossom Entertainment.[43]

On February 13, 2019, KAKAO M released a statement that Plan A Entertainment and Fave Entertainment will be merging on April 1st.[44]

Video Content Company

Video Content Company[45] (Korean; RRyeongsang keontencheu keompeoni) is Kakao M's media production company, which includes Krispy Studio (a web content production company) and Mega Monster (formerly Story Plant, a drama production company that Kakao M co-owns with CJ E&M subsidiary Studio Dragon Corporation).

Just almost a week after its name change, Kakao M (through Krispy Studio) acquired a majority (65.7%) stake in Nylon Media Korea, publisher of the Korean edition of beauty and fashion magazine Nylon, from Seoul Cultural Publishers [ko].[46]


In April 2018, Kakao M and its parent company formed the CSR venture Kakao Impact Foundation.[47]


As of February 2019, the following companies are the subsidiaries of Kakao M:[48]

  • Play M Entertainment[b] (since 2012; 100% ownership)
    • E&T Story Entertainment (since 2017; 60% ownership)
  • Cre.Ker Entertainment (since 2012; 80% ownership)
  • Starship Entertainment[17] (since 2013; 64.8% ownership)
    • House of Music (since 2017; 77% ownership)
    • King Kong by Starship (since 2015; wholly owned)
    • Starship X (since 2013; wholly owned)
  • Mun Hwa In (since 2016; 67.5% ownership)
  • Krispy Studio (since 2017; wholly owned)
    • Nylon Media Korea[c] (since 2018; 65.7% ownership)
  • Mega Monster[d] (since 2017; 67.15% ownership)
  • mTechCrew (since 2016; wholly owned)
  • BH Entertainment (since 2018)
  • J Wide Company (since 2018)
  • Management SOOP (since 2018)
  • Ready Entertainment (since 2018)
  • Blossom Entertainment (since 2019)



Year Recipient Award Category Result
2011 MelOn Digital Chosun Ilbo Awards Most Trusted Brand (Online Music Service) Won
App Awards Korea Best Entertainment Application Won
2012 Digital Chosun Ilbo Awards Most Trusted Brand (Online Music Service) Won
LOEN Entertainment Korean Digital Business Innovation Awards Grand Prize (Digital Contents) Won
2013 Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards Music Distribution (Online) Won[49]

See also


  1. ^ Lee Jun-ho is also the CEO of subsidiary Mega Monster.
  2. ^ Formerly LOEN Tree, Fave Entertainment, and Plan A Entertainment
  3. ^ Was affiliated under Seoul Cultural Publishers
  4. ^ Formerly Story Plant; was affiliated under CJ E&M


  1. ^ a b c " ". Yonhap. February 23, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Loen Entertainment on the Forbes Asia 200 Best Under A Billion List". Forbes Asia. Forbes Inc. July 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Kim Min-soo (January 13, 2016). ", '' 1.8 ... (Kakao acquires "MelOn" company Loen Entertainment for 1.8 billion dollars... sets out an entertainment platform for comprehensive mobile content services)". The Chosun Ilbo. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ " ". .
  5. ^ a b "Privateequitykorea.com". www.privateequitykorea.com.
  6. ^ a b Lee Se-young (January 12, 2016). "Kakao to buy South Korea's top music streaming operator for $1.6 billion". Reuters. Thomson Reuters Corp. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ Kim, Jin-woo (December 11, 2015). "2015? ? (2015 Music Market Closing Review)". Gaon Music Chart (in Korean). Korea Music Content Industry Association. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "SKT, ? ? (Seoul Records, SKT's largest acquisition)". Kyunghyang Shinmun. 2005-05-27. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "1978 - Founding of "Seoul Records"". YBM Group. Archived from the original on 2013-12-28.
  10. ^ "Korean Telco Takes Control Of Seoul Records". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. May 27, 2005. Retrieved 2013.
  11. ^ "(?) (LOEN Entertainment, Inc.)". Naver Terms. Naver Corporation. 2012-08-25. Retrieved .
  12. ^ " vs KT... '?' (LOEN versus KT Music... "Music cataclysm")". Chosun Biz. Chosun Ilbo. 2013-05-13. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Video Subtitling Site Viki Puts K-Pop Content in Spotlight". The Chosun Ilbo. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  14. ^ LOEN Tree Summer Story on Hanteo
  15. ^ "?, ? (Affinity acquires RealNetworks' stake in Loen Ent)". The Bell. November 17, 2013. Retrieved 2015.
  16. ^ starsung (September 24, 2013). "LOEN Entertainment undergoes reorganization to become a multi-label system". allkpop. Retrieved 2013.
  17. ^ a b alim17 (December 18, 2013). "Loen Entertainment takes over majority stake in Starship Entertainment for 15 billion won". allkpop. Retrieved 2013.
  18. ^ U. Kim (May 10, 2017). "Loen Entertainment To Create New Drama Production Company With Studio Dragon". Soompi. Viki Inc. Retrieved 2017.
  19. ^ ", `` ".
  20. ^ " , ". Maeil Business Newspaper. December 26, 2017.
  21. ^ " 'M' ".
  22. ^ "Loen Entertainment Changes Its Name To kakao M". Busan Ilbo News20 via Soompi. December 20, 2017.
  23. ^ "(?) ?(?)". Maeil Business Newspaper. December 20, 2017.
  24. ^ "2". Retrieved 2019.
  25. ^ "Fave Entertainment & Plan A Entertainment announce official merger". February 13, 2019.
  26. ^ "Korea's Fair Trade Commission fines 15 music distributors for collectively rigging prices". allkpop. March 1, 2011. Retrieved 2013.
  27. ^ Yoon Sung-won (October 9, 2016). "Loen, KT Music fined for music source price-fixing". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2016.
  28. ^ ", "- "? ?". (in Korean). Retrieved .
  29. ^ ? " ... ". (in Korean). Retrieved .
  30. ^ ?, " ". (in Korean). Retrieved .
  31. ^ "XIA ?, " ..?" :: THE STAR". thestar.chosun.com. Retrieved .
  32. ^ beansss (March 23, 2018). "Kakao M, formerly Loen Entertainment, reveals new corporate identity + appoints new CEO". allkpop. Retrieved 2018.
  33. ^ Lee, Hae-in (March 23, 2018). ", 'M' ...'K- ' ". Money Today. Retrieved 2018.
  34. ^ "Melon Company". kakao M Corporation. Retrieved 2018.
  35. ^ lordbordem (September 25, 2013). "LOEN Entertainment to Split Their Artist Division into Multiple Labels". Soompi. Retrieved 2013.
  36. ^ Seung Si-yeon, Park Jong-geun (December 3, 2011). "Shin Won-soo, representing Korea's largest OMS, "MelOn"". JoongAng Ilbo. Archived from the original on 2013-12-13. Retrieved 2013.
  37. ^ jun2yng (November 3, 2013). "The Top 10 Most Influential Entities of K-Pop". Soompi. Retrieved 2013.
  38. ^ "Music Content Company". kakao M Corporation. Retrieved 2018.
  39. ^ alim17 (February 17, 2014). "LOEN MUSIC changes its name to 1theK". allkpop. Retrieved 2014.
  40. ^ Jeon Ji-yeon (February 20, 2014). ", '1theK(?)' (LOEN launches global K-pop flagship brand 1theK)". Electronic Times. Retrieved 2016.
  41. ^ ", ... ()".
  42. ^ "Kakao M Confirms Partnerships With Acting And Advertisement Agencies". June 27, 2018.
  43. ^ "2". Retrieved 2019.
  44. ^ "Fave Entertainment & Plan A Entertainment announce official merger". February 13, 2019.
  45. ^ "Video Content Company". kakao M Corporation. Retrieved 2018.
  46. ^ Jung, Yoo-hyun. "M, ... ". The Bell. Retrieved 2018.
  47. ^ "Kakao founder establishes charity to foster start-ups". Yonhap. Retrieved 2018.
  48. ^ Song, Sun-ok (May 18, 2018). " ... ·M ''". Money Today. Retrieved 2018.
  49. ^ jnkm (February 13, 2013). "Winners & Best Moments of the 2nd Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards". Soompi. Retrieved 2013.

External links

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