It is now more common to see K-Pop idols on the credits of their own albums. BLACKPINK with The Album, MONSTA X with One of a Kind, BTS with Map of the Soul: 7, (G)I-DLE with I Burn, and many more have members credited as songwriters in several tracks.

The process of including their songs in the official tracklist, however, is not as easy as one would initially suspect. Michelle Cho, a K-Pop songwriter who worked as an international A&R (Artists & Repertoire) specialist at SM Entertainment, discussed this in detail during an interview with ReacttotheK.

michelle cho
Michelle Cho | ReacttotheK/YouTube

She revealed that contrary to what some may expect, K-Pop idols have to take the long route when giving song suggestions.

Artists would also have to submit demos if they want to include their songs in the album. It’s a fair process.

— Michelle Cho

Some SM Entertainment artists who readily joined music sessions with company-picked producers include BoA, Henry Lau, SHINee‘s Jonghyun, and Amber. She praised the latter, saying, “Amber often joined too because she’s also a great writer.”

amber
Amber | @ajol_llama/Instagram

Many K-Pop idols are eager to share their creations with the company’s music team. They get the opportunity to do so when they’re invited to sessions meant to cultivate and find hit songs.

For songwriting sessions and camps, we would just test it out too. Sometimes we’d get demos. They were writing for a long time, obviously they have demos that they want to play.

— Michelle Cho

Should they not have a demo ready for inspection, the employees would help them bring to life their visions.

Even if they don’t have [a demo], it’s always helpful if they come into the session and talk about their vision. And then that’s how we ease them into a session.

— Michelle Cho

Michelle emphasized the importance of coming in prepared. If the artists know what route they want to take, it would be easier creating a song that is fit for them.

They don’t have to participate in the whole process, to do everything, but just talking about what they want to do [helps]. And as they get eased in and also get used to songwriting, they can take a more active role in writing.

— Michelle Cho

In her experience, K-Pop idols start out with a small group of songwriting buddies and eventually branch out their circle with time, directly affecting their style of music.

boa
Boa is an SM Entertainment artist who sometimes writes her own music. | @boakwon/Instagram

I’ve noticed that a lot of artists start out with their friends…and then expand their circle of writer friends and producer friends, expanding their musical limitations too [so they can] try more things and try different styles and new genres.

— Michelle Cho

For more interesting K-Pop insider information, check out the video below.