With the recent news of KARA’s contract negotiations, and JYJ’s “Music Essay” reaching #1, the debate between management companies and artists has once again become a hot topic, and this time both sides are speaking out.
Featured in a segment called, “JYJ and KARA, why did they do it?”, on MBC’s “News Magazine 2580” (시사매거진 2580), representatives from both sides spoke out, and Junsu and Yoochun themselves discussed their controversial decision and artists’ rights.
For one of the first times, Park Yoochun confessed that he fully knew that he “might never be able to be a star again” when he decided to leave SM Entertainment, but even with this realization, he still needed to “find happiness and leave.”
Kim Junsu, Kim Jaejoong, and Park Yoochun left their band, DBSK, and management group, SM Entertainment, in July of 2009, citing differences in regards to the length and terms of contract. The best known of these claims is SM Entertainment’s lack of transparency regarding group finances, and that the 13 year term of contract was far too long. However, the boys’ decision to leave and regroup as JYJ has not been a walk in the park, especially with them facing an unstated ban from popular music programs (SBS Inkigayo, MBC Music Core, and KBS Music Bank all declined to give statements or explanations).
Regarding this, Junsu said, “I think that it is very weird that we cannot appear on broadcast television. I learned that it truly is difficult for a Korean singer to perform on a stage, and it is what I resent most.”
Fast forward to almost a year and a half later, and three members of KARA: Jung Nicole, HanSeungyeon, and Kang Jiyoung, have moved to terminate their contract with their management group,DSP. The group also cites lack of transparency and suspected mishandling of group finances – especially regarding the money they raised and earned through overseas promotions and activities in Japan.
On the flipside, the show also did the footwork and found that a management company invests an average $1,800 per person per month during the artists’ training years. Covering everything from food and housing to lessons, promotional fees, and spending money, costs can accrue during the process that could last anywhere from six months to three years. The segment also cites that one popular seven member girl group incurred 2.9 billion won in training fees alone over the course of four years.
In defense of the industry, a representative from Core Contents Media (the management company of groups T-ara, Davichi, and 5Dolls) said, “Management companies have to blindly and continuously invest money… Most people underestimate how much money we pour into our artists, and overestimate how much they make when in the market. We do what we can, but this is the way it works.”
With netizens lining up and crying “slavery” or “betrayal”, and with passions still running high, we hope that for the sake of the fans, this battle between artists’ rights and management costs will somehow find a resolution soon.