KAI Media, Company Behind K-Pop Label hello82, Raises More Funding For Expansion

KAI Media, a company that focuses on physical K-pop music and fan events in brick-and-mortar locations, raised $3 million from existing investor CRIT Ventures to fund expansion beyond its Los Angeles base. The company, which operates under the name hello82, had previously raised $5 million from CRIT Ventures, Kakao Entertainment, Snow Corp. and other investors.

Founded in 2018, hello82 is a record label and distributor that sells music on physical formats via its online store, pop-up shops and physical locations. The label acquires physical rights while other labels retain the rights for digital releases. It operates an e-commerce store, sells products at its own brick-and-mortar location and has relationships with national chains such as Target, Walmart and Barnes & Noble. After launching its first Fan Space in Los Angeles, hello82 will open a second Fan Space in Atlanta this Saturday (April 6) and plans to launch a third in the Berlin. The Fan Space is a retail store as well as a gathering place for K-pop fans that hosts meet-and-greets with artists, photo trading card events, album release events and merchandise pop-ups. 

The focus on real-world events and physical products is a throwback marketing approach in the age of streaming music and social media. But hello82’s approach has produced results. The latest album by ATEEZ, THE WORLD EP.FIN: WILL, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart in December 2023 with physical sales of 146,000 units — 96% of total album units — thanks to more than 30 collectible editions made available. P1Harmony Harmony: All In, 6th Mini Album was available in 21 collectible CD editions and debuted at No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart in July 2023.

“We were born as a ‘fan-first’ company because we are fans ourselves,” Jae Yoon Choi, CEO and founder of hello82, said in a statement. “While the music industry usually focuses solely on artists and music, we’ve successfully created a two-way bridge between both K-pop and fans outside of South Korea. We are ready to take our formula to new international markets, including Europe, so that we can continue to showcase South Korean artists and connect them with fans.”

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