David Kim is the national publicist at Magnum PR, and represents some of the biggest electronic artists of today. He works with a wide variety of people in the world of electronic and dance music, and clients include Axwell, Ingrosso, Alesso, Grandtheft, Hotel Garuda, Crywolf, Swindail, ARMNHMR, Majestic Casual Recordings, and many more.
We sat down with the rising star in the PR world to learn more about what it means to survive in music publicity.
How did you start your career in the electronic music business?
My first professional opportunity was interning at Warner Music Group in A&R. I was really fortunate to work with Eric McLellan and Seymour Stein, two classy professionals that are great role models for how to sustain a career in our tumultuous industry. But even before this opportunity, I always knew I was interested in music. Only thing was, I couldn’t quite figure out where/how I would build a career out of it. I wanted to be a DJ so I tried, wanted to be an agent so I tried, wanted to work on the music streaming side of things.. so I tried. I’m a publicist now and I love what I do but needless to say, there has been a ton of trial, error, and growth that I had to go through.
What is the best part of the business?
Other than the music, I’ll always answer this one the same way - the people. Obviously you have your good apples and bad, but it’s so incredibly inspiring and motivating to connect with like-minded individuals. Clients and partners can become friends, bosses can become mentors, and there is no denying that the people are the reason the industry can be so amazing if you stick with it long enough.
What are the biggest challenges?
I think there are two, the first of which is getting started. There is an inevitable period where people will not respond and you might feel like your efforts are pointless. But that’s where the special ones shine. They persevere and find solutions to solve their predicaments. That kind of goes into the second challenge: staying relevant. With the rapidly advancing media landscape, publicists need to stay on top of revolving media contacts, editorial practices, and artist/managers etc. need to figure out to sustain their careers without falling into irrelevance. It’s a tough cycle!
What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?
I think the most important two things are: be a good person and believe in yourself. Because if you’re a jerk, nobody will want to work with you! And if you don’t believe in yourself, then who will?
As the EDM industry continues to grow, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?
Being open-minded is really important. So is challenging the status quo. Open-minded means making sacrifices like learning to listen, taking on side hustles to pay bills, having empathy for artists and their vision. By challenging the status quo, I mean be fearless, ask questions, and if you have an idea, execute! People fail all the time… might as well go for it instead of wondering, “why didn’t I do it,” further down the line.
What does electronic music mean to you?
Electronic music has literally become my life. It’s the one genre of music that I’ve fallen in love with that I felt completely comfortable loving and listening to. For example, I used to listen to Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit (the first two cds I ever bought) when I was a kid, but I didn’t buy them because I was a fan. My dad got me a disc-man and I just wanted to buy something to listen to on it. I bought a Jay-Z CD and I could only listen to it when I was alone because my family/teachers would say it was inappropriate. Electronic music was the first kind of music that nobody could tell me anything about. It was so unknown in the U.S. when I started to listen and it’s incredible to see how far it has come over the past 10 years. It’s almost like I've grown within the industry as the music grew… so it has a special place in my heart. Working with someone of my favorite artists is literally a dream come true and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities I face on a daily basis.
If you weren’t in the music biz, what would you be doing?
I think about this pretty frequently but I figure if I can’t think of anything else, then that means I’m doing the right thing! My dad was a stockbroker and growing up in an Asian household, I kind of always assumed I’d be a stockbroker, lawyer, doctor, etc. But neither of my parents really pressured me to be something I didn’t want to be, which I will forever be grateful for. If we’re talking about literally doing anything in the world regardless of limitations? I’d probably be a professional soccer player because I’d love to experience the thrill of scoring a game-winning goal with billions of fans around the world watching. Or I’d be like Elon Musk and try to figure out daily solutions for making people’s lives better.