After spending years working with numerous K-pop stars, Leonard Lim and his Wild Entertainment have their sights set on the country.
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From K-pop idols to Thai BL and GL love teams, it’s clear that Southeast and East Asia have their fair share of content we all go crazy for. It’s not that hard to find someone who enjoys entertainment from our neighboring countries, as is the same way that the rest enjoy some of our local stars and offerings as well.
While most of the attention usually goes to Western entertainment, it’s clear that Southeast Asian talent is worth celebrating, and more importantly, supporting and promoting on a global scale. This is something Leonard Lim knows all too well. And after spending the past few years building Wild Group into a force, they’ve now set their sights on the Philippines and its wellspring of talent.
A SEAT ON THE TABLE
Leonard Lim is no stranger to the entertainment industry. After all, he’s made a career over the years working with some of the biggest K-pop stars. “I have a long experience in K-pop, mainly because of facilitating fanmeets, merchandise, concerts, and brand endorsements for a lot of my network of friends in the field,” shares Leonard in a one-on-one chat with NYLON Manila. The K-pop industry is sometimes known for being cutthroat so for Leonard to do and thrive in it is a testament to his skill. But it was also in these years that he realized something was off.
While K-pop idols and the genre, in general, were blowing up all over the world, the same couldn’t be said for the talent in countries in Southeast Asia. “I felt that there was an under-representation of foreigners, mainly Southeast Asians.” The talent and potential were there, all it needed was that push. “I’ve been in entertainment for six years now. And even before this, I founded a jewelry company (Kapsul Collective) that collaborated with K-pop idols. And I think what’s exciting is that a lot of Southeast Asian artists are very interested in reaching out to the Korean market and the Western market.”
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 proved to be the catalyst for this realization of bringing talent from all over the world. And thus, in 2020, Leonard founded Wild Entertainment in South Korea.
To put Wild Entertainment in a box is a disservice to what the company does for its artists. It has its hands on multiple fields, a reflection of how diverse the content industry is today. And that’s reflected in the artists they’ve signed so far. From K-pop idols, YouTubers, influencers, musicians, and more, Wild’s roster is varied. “We have a lot of artists that are doing something different, that is breaking outside of the traditional barrier of music, in forms of promotion, in terms of how they see them, how they put out their music.” He adds, “I think that the culture we’re trying to create with Wild is a good reason why we’re a bit different.”
Leonard sees Wild as that booster to get artists seen in Southeast Asia and beyond. “I think our mission is to do the right thing for the roster that we have, and to provide opportunities with our culture that we’ve created, to be a great resource and home for new artists.” Speaking of the roster, it reflects their global ambitions. In just the past couple of years, Wild has signed stars like former CLC members Sorn and Seungyeon, former Wonder Girls member Yubin, and YouTube stars The Hammington Family. Wild Entertainment has even collaborated with companies like JYP Entertainment for several projects.
“Hardworking and talented and know exactly what they want,” is how Leonard would describe the type of artist that they would like to sign to Wild. In their goal of bringing SEA artists to greater heights, they want artists who have a global appeal and do not just restrict themselves to one place. “The way music and content are released nowadays and the way that you advertise yourself is on a global scale, you’re not just focusing on one market.”
To that end, Wild has already expanded to other countries. From its beginnings in Korea, Wild moved to a new headquarters in Singapore. As of this writing, the company operates in three divisions. The first is their in-house record label which already has six recording artists and growing. The second is a 360 entertainment management division for artists, music producers, and content creators which will handle all their entertainment activities globally. The last one is the global agency division, which has over 120 content creators globally. And Filipino artists and creators will soon get to experience all this now that Wild is expanding to the Philippines.
FROM THE PHILIPPINES TO THE WORLD
Despite sometimes being undervalued, Filipino talent in the entertainment, content, and music scene has often found itself on the global stage. And with Wild setting up a regional office in Manila this year, that talent is about to get an even bigger spotlight. Leonard himself recognizes the value and potential Filipinos have in going global. “I think there’s so much talent that is not being recognized outside of the Philippines. I truly believe that. I think everyone is very, very talented.”
What exactly Wild has planned for their Manila expansion, Leonard is tight-lipped. But he did share that he and Wild were already in talks were a few Filipino artists to sign and work with them. Who exactly they are will be revealed at a later date. But the company is making moves. In fact, Leonard shared that once the interview was done, he was going to have two meetings with prospective clients. “We plan to work with a lot of Philippine artists, some of which are established. We also hope to sign at least one or two very talented artists in the Philippines to the record label side to make music and also to promote them outside of the Philippines, not just locally.”
At the end of the day, Leonard stresses that Wild is offering a partnership that is for the betterment of the artist and won’t take advantage of them. “It’s the level of respect I think that the artists trust the guidance that we give them. At the same time, I let them put their hand up to speak about what they want in their careers. And then it’s our job to advise them, whether that’s feasible, whether it’s something that we can assist them with, and also guide them in the right way.”
Aside from working with established and would-be Filipino stars, Wild also has exciting plans for Filipino fans in general. At the top of that list is their roster of international stars coming to the country. “We would love to bring a lot of our artists from Korea, Singapore, and America through to the Philippines to promote.” Leonard continues, “Very good music announcements with foreign artists coming into Manila. That could be for performances, branded events, appearances, and even collaboration with local artists.”
Needless to say, Wild Entertainment is looking to have an exciting year in the Philippines. And spearheading it is Leonard Lim, a veteran of the industry who is more than ready to help champion Filipino talent on a larger scale. Pinoy artists will soon have a new avenue where they can develop, hone, and share their talents not just across the country, but across oceans and borders.
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