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A&R Worldwide Interview: Chris Lee (Vol. 832)



KREATION Music Rights (KMR) is the publishing arm of K-Pop powerhouse, SM Entertainment (SM) – home to mega K-Pop acts like SUPER JUNIOR, Girls’ Generation, SHINee, EXO, Red Velvet, KANGTA, BoA, TVXQ!, NCT and aespa.

KMR was established in September 2023 as part of the SM 3.0 initiative to internalize SM’s IP royalties and invest in the publishing business. Since its launch, KMR has grown exponentially through five major deals and acquisitions (The Hub, MonoTree, Smashhit, 10x Entertainment, Bad X) and 80+ writer signings.

With its goal to become Asia’s No.1 music publisher, KMR operates its head office in Seoul, Korea, and its Europe office in Stockholm, Sweden. Through its monthly song camp in its 41 state-of-the-art studios in Seoul, KMR has successfully pitched 113 songs to major K-pop labels. KMR is committed to serving its global roster of artists/writers in publishing, producing, and management businesses and plans to expand to the U.S. market in 2024 to find more creative collaborations as well as investment/partnership opportunities.

Chris Lee

Below is A&R Worldwide‘s exclusive interview with Chris Lee (Sung-su Lee), CEO of KMR. An industry veteran who also holds the role of CAO (Chief A&R Officer) for SM Entertainment, Chris talks about KMR’s vision, successes, and bright outlooks (KMR HQ and KMR Europe). KMR will do their first formal U.S. presentations at this year’s MUSEXPO, which takes place March 17 – 20, in Burbank, CA.

What inspired the establishment of KREATION Music Rights, and could you share the company’s mission statement?

To continue being a global leader in entertainment, SM believes in continued innovation. That is why in February 2023, SM announced its SM 3.0 strategy to address some of the most prominent aspects of the current music industry – digitization, globalization, cross-pollination of genres, and more. SM 3.0 was a plan to integrate the various aspects of SM’s business into a cohesive system, to better position ourselves in the entertainment landscape, and most importantly, to better serve our creators and music fans.

Music publishing is one of the main pillars of SM 3.0 plan – and KREATION Music Rights was established to fulfill this business goal. As a creative, however, I envision KMR to be a stage where our writers and artists can freely and fully unleash their creativity. Kreation, through its name, encompasses the vibrant energy of the company. In German, Kreation means “to create a trend;” in Swedish, it means “new design.” At the same time, by replacing “C” in creation with our signature “K,” KMR emphasizes the ever-growing force of the global K-Pop trend and the interconnectedness of our times. We aim to make a mark in the global music industry by offering the stage for our songwriters to express their colors and concepts through music.

Who are the key members of the KREATION Music Rights team, and what expertise and experience do they bring to the table?

Throughout my A&R career, I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by those who are equally passionate about music as much as I am. When KMR was established, I knew immediately that I had the right team – a team of seasoned professionals who understand and value the importance of our songwriters.

The KMR executive team comes with extensive backgrounds in music publishing across all sectors. Kyoung Park, KMR HQ’s head of publishing, comes with years of experience in administration. Robin Jenssen, Head of KMR Europe, is a true A&R visionary who has a record of 700+ placements in the Asian market alone and 150+ on Billboard charts. Jin Suk Choi, pka JINBYJIN, and Director of International A&R is a multi-Platinum producer with 60+ No.1 placements on Billboard. Our collective expertise ensures a comprehensive understanding of the global music publishing industry, enabling us to offer unmatched support and guidance to our clients.


KMR, from its inception, was extremely fortunate to bring in some of the best writers and producers in the K-Pop industry through our major acquisitions and Company in Company (CIC) structure. Brian You and his team at The Hub have a history of over 29 title tracks in the past four years and our Platinum writer trio at MonoTreeHwang Hyun, G-High, and Lee Joo Hyung—has cut singles for top K-Pop groups such as SEVENTEEN, IVE, and TxT. Kang Ta (the legendary singer-songwriter and former member of H.O.T., the first-generation SM idol group) and his Smashhit team, is one of the most versatile production teams in the industry. The list goes on and it will continue to grow!

In a competitive industry like music publishing, what sets KREATION Music Rights apart from other players globally, particularly in the K-Pop arena?

With SM’s 30-plus years of dominance in the Asian music market, KMR is well-situated to provide unparalleled opportunities for our writers. We have ties to all major K-Pop labels and have years of experience working with KOMCA (Korea Music Copyright Association).

This vast network allows KMR to secure exclusive creative partnerships. As part of the SM 3.0 plan, SM operates a Multi Production Center to expand its producing capacity as well as allow for creative autonomy amongst its artists groups. KMR plays a key role in this supply chain by directly providing high-quality compositions for SM artists’ projects. KMR, with its vast network of best-in-class K-Pop writers, secured exclusive projects for SM and other mid-size labels.

But this goes beyond the K-Pop landscape. We launched KMR Europe in December 2023 and have already signed top writers and producers in the region including Dsign Music, the two-times Grammy nominated writing team with 70+ No.1 Billboard placements, and Sunshine, a singer-songwriter duo who holds an impressive cut record that amounts to over 57 million physical album sales. KMR is heavily investing in developing and nurturing relationships in the Americas and Southeast Asia to become a truly global music publisher.

Can you highlight some of the notable achievements or track record of KREATION Music Rights since its inception?

In less than half a year, KMR has achieved remarkable success in securing talented writers and creative partnerships. Our operation is in full swing in our head office in Seoul, South Korea, and our Europe office in Stockholm, Sweden. We have signed 86 songwriters globally and amassed 1500+ catalog songs. KMR has been hosting monthly song camps in our state-of-the-art 41 studio facility in Seoul, from which 113 songs have been confirmed for future release. Through KMR’s artist management business, Kim Woo-jin (former member of Straykids, now exclusively signed to KMR) will be releasing his first album in April 2024 and two additional artists will debut this year.

This is just the beginning. We plan to truly expand our reach globally and drive collaboration between creators in K-Pop and other popular genres. KMR HQ and KMR EU co-hosted an international song camp in December. It was an enormous success bringing together writers from around the world and acting as a bridge between diverse musical landscapes. KMR will continue to be a dynamic and influential player in the global music publishing industry. This year, KMR will focus on building its operations in the U.S. and we are excited to announce that KMR will host its first U.S. song camp this summer!

Are there any unique approaches or initiatives that KREATION Music Rights undertakes to nurture emerging talent within the K-Pop industry?

KMR believes in the importance of nurturing future generations of writers and providing a solid foundation for their global career development. KMR has partnered with SM Universe (SM’s audition and trainee nurturing program) as well as several Music Institutions to support the music careers of emerging talents. Internally, MonoTree’s MonoLeaf program offers a 1:1 mentoring program for developing writers to receive individual feedback from their veteran producers.

From a creative standpoint, KMR’s A&R team plays a significant role and promises individual attention to our writer roster. The A&R team, across all CICs and KMR, works hand-in-hand to provide outstanding creative services including specialized pitching, cross-company song camps, and unique session opportunities.

We have also appointed many renowned writers and producers such as JINBYJIN, Kang Ta, and Hong Jong Hwa, many of whom partook a vital role in shaping the K-Pop history in and out of SM, to sit on our advisory board. As resident KMR writers, they will pass along their years of experience from working with the biggest K-Pop acts in history. KMR is dedicated to providing a solid foundation for our writers and will continue to do our best to nurture and develop our emerging talents.

How does KREATION Music Rights approach business opportunities, and what criteria do you consider when evaluating potential partnerships or investments?

One of the biggest focuses for KMR in 2024 is to expand its operations in the U.S. through a series of major investments and partnerships. The US, being the second largest K-Pop importer, is an attractive market for KMR.

KMR Europe Songwriting Camp

We are evaluating both creative and strategic opportunities. Creatively, KMR is planning to host its first U.S.-based K-Pop song camp in the summer. This camp will be one of the biggest camps KMR has planned and we are excited to form new relationships with writers and find creative fits for the next generation of K-Pop.

In parallel, KMR is having conversations with many U.S. publishers to make strategic partnerships whether it is through securing joint venture deals, sub-publishing deals, or capital investments. Exciting times!

Looking ahead, what are the long-term aspirations and future plans for KREATION Music Rights in shaping the landscape of South Korean and global music publishing?

With the growing popularity of K-Pop and our commitment to our artists and the music community, I honestly believe that KMR will be the trailblazer in shaping the South Korean and global music publishing landscape. Our goal is to become the top music publisher in Asia within the next 5 years. We aim to continue innovating, expanding our global network, and providing our writers and artists with unparalleled opportunities for growth and success.


NEED TO MAKE CONTACT, SEND NEWS AND NEW MUSIC RELEASES?: If you have any A&R, publishing, technology, agent/promoter, international radio, management, new media or film/TV music supervisor news you’d like to share with A&R Worldwide, or need to respond to information published in the weekly newsletter please E–mail it to the attention of Sat Bisla at Also, all demos and new music releases should be sent as STREAMING LINKS ONLY to

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