Zanthel Tan – The Solo Entrepreneur behind Kwave Drops
If you are a frequent visitor *SCAPE, you might have come across this little yet eye-catching key master machine called, Kwave Drops. Filled with many attractive K-Pop merchandises (merch), they range from legitimate albums, authentic lightsticks to a limited edition BT21 Leica SOFORT Camera (worth $800+). The best part of it all? Each try at this key master machine is only a dollar. So you might wondering who’s the mind behind this game machine? It is none other than Zanthel Tan.
Working as a full-time Regional Manager (Talent & Marketing), Zanthel uses her spare time to help fans get closer to their favourite K-Pop merch that may not be easily accessible in Singapore.
How did you come up with this idea?
When I started getting into K-pop in general, I met a lot of younger friends who are always talking about this new album or lightstick that just was just released. And I realised a lot of them are really young. So they tend to have to save up for a long time. I kinda want to help but I cannot be a Santa Claus at this point. So I think if people actually get the chance to win, for example, shoes (in these machines), for $1 to $2; maybe I should try putting K-Pop merch in such machines too.
How was the experience like setting up the machine?
I got a supplier from China and had it shipped to *SCAPE directly. They left the whole wooden giant crate in there. So right after work, in the middle of the night, my family came down with hammers and we just hammered out the whole crate and began setting it up. It was my first time doing anything like that. But we managed to tear the whole thing out I’m like “Okay! Everything works. Thank God.”
How often do you restock the machine?
Actually, when I first started, I came down every day after work. There was a lot of trial and error; I think the same goes for every business. Things were stuck. We had to put cushions at the side so that when the products fall, it has a soft landing and it doesn’t break the product. However, it really depends on how often people win the merch as well but currently I pop by every weekend to restock the machine.
How do you decide which tier the different merch are placed on?
People have this misconception that the highest tier is the most difficult. To a certain extent, it does have a different difficulty level (from the rest) because of the different hole sizes in the key master machine. However, I actually put them according to the safety of the product. Like I know that the BT21 Leica camera is very protected since it comes in a box, so I feel that it’s fine to put it right in the middle. For lightsticks, they are normally not very well-packaged, so I try not to put it in tiers that are higher. Generally, items like hard-covered albums that are super sturdy would be on a higher tier.
What sets the K-Pop industry apart from other music industries?
I think it’s because K-Pop provides a variety of merch. From photocards which are more affordable, and it can even go up to a camera which is like the super expensive ones. Then there are also things like lamps and Bluetooth speakers, characters, albums, lightsticks. K-Pop has this range of very well-themed, different concepts and not to mention that it’s also quite addictive to want to collect these things.
Thoughts on K-Pop fan culture?
Apparently there’s this thing where some fans consider you a “better” fan if you spend more money on your idols and I don’t like it at all. I know this is happening out there and I think that people need to change that kind of mindset. I noticed K-Pop in the first place because of G-Dragon and till this day, I only own one tote bag and one album and that’s all but it doesn’t make me any less of a fan. I do attend his concerts cause I wanted to see him live, and not because he will earn that $100 from me. I’m sure he’s smiling because of the fans that came to see him and not because he earned an extra $100 from someone. Obviously monetary support is important, but the support should also come from the heart.