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[K-Friday] K-Music 101 – The Agency, the Company Behind the Brand

Howdy everyone welcome back to an other edition of K-Music 101, I know it’s been a while I didn’t make one of those,미안해

Today’s topic is one I should have talked about sometimes ago since it’s the next important thing after the group or band. If it wasn’t of them our beloved idol might not be where they are now. As you probably guess (thank to the title) today’s subject is the Agency.


If I could make a comparison between something we know and a label or agency, the agency is like a company like Mattel or Ford selling a product like Barbie or F-150. In a lot of case, the agency took the component, the idols, and assemble them together to have a final product, the boy/girl group or band.
Like any other company, the point goal of the a talent agency or label is to make money by selling their product and to do this they need to advertise their product, like releasing album and making the group/band appearing on different television show. More the idol(s) are seen, more people know about them, more fan they get and those fan spend money on them, like a parent who will spend money to buy the latest hot toy for the kid(s)

Of course, like any other company, agencies doesn’t have all the same size, there is bigger agencies with a lot of artists who signed with them and smaller agencies.

The BIG 3

There is three really big agencies, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and YG Entertainment, these agencies have a lot ( A LOT) of artist sign with them, not only idols but also actors. They are also the pioneer, they were the first to debut the boy and girl group concept as we see them today. Most of the idols from the first or second generation come from one of those agencies.
SHINHWA, group from the first generation debuted under SM.Entertainment and the really popular BigBang is sign under YG Entertainment.
Of course debuting under one of those big agency is synonym of visibility, but not necessarily longevity. Don’t think all boy group can become the next SHINWHA or GOD.

The decent size agencies

After the BIG 3 agencies, come the one who are not too big or too small. Like the BIG 3, they have a good quantity of artist sign under them, but not necessarily have the same budget to put on them and more than often those agency are known for one particular group even if they have debuted other. A good example would be Woollim Entertainment who is mostly known for being Infinite agency, however the six-member boy group are not alone. Woollim debuted last year a large boy group, Golden Child, counting ten members and in 2014 they debuted their first girl group Lovelyz. However even if the agency count three idols group, the one that are their “milk cow” or “bread-winner” is Infinite.

The Small One

Not all agency can have the luxe to have a lot of artist, sometimes they manage only one or two group. The best example is Big Hit Entertainment who have two idols groups sign under their label, BTS and HOMME. While all kpop fan know who is the first, not a lot know about the second and it’s not because HOMME isn’t talented, they are incredible ballad singer. Big Hit is also the prove that who don’t have to be big to debut successful idol groups.

Until Death Do Us Apart

Since I’m talking about agencies in this week edition of K-Music 101, I have to do talk about what was known as “slave contract”. Do not worry K-fan this kind of contract do not exist anymore. But there were still a thing until a few years ago.
For those who doesn’t know a “slave contract” is an abnormally long and unfair contract sign by the idol, one of the longest I’m aware of was the one sign by the member of Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK), this contract was supposed to last 13 years.

In 2008, three members of the boy band TVXQ took their management agency SM Entertainment to court, claiming that the agency’s 13-year-contract was too long, too restrictive, and gave them almost none of the profits from their success.The following year, in 2009, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) created a rule that limited entertainment contracts to seven years. In 2017, the KFTC again put restrictions on entertainment contracts. Among other things, the 2017 reforms reduced the financial penalties for K-pop trainees that break their contracts early and made it more difficult for companies to force K-pop idols to renew their contracts.- Source: Wikipedia


Agency are as important as the fan for the idol group, if it wasn’t of SM. Entertainment or Big Hit, group like EXO or BTS wouldn’t debut.
Of course the entertainment industry is a business and like any other company who run a business, agency are not always fair to their idol, that is why some are not renewing their contract or try to nullify it.

Hope you enjoyed this edition of K-Music 101

~ Thank you for reading ~

See you next time!!


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