It's hard to audition at JYP

South Korea's turbulent lifestyle, KPOP & more

You voted: After SM entertainment and JYP Entertainment Let's take a closer look at how Big Hit Entertainment (or soon in the future the HYBE Corporation) treats his artists. In April of last year we already reported on the problems with the staff that are directly related to TXT’s and BTS ' Work close by. You should read this article beforehand.

Big Hit Entertainment was founded in 2005 by Bang Sihyuk founded, also known as Hitman Bang is known. You can read more about him here.

First of all, Big Hit Entertainment is basically no different from other agencies. The training is tough and demands a lot from the trainees. At the same time, however, it is ensured from the start that the artists have psychological support by their side. It is not without reason that the subtitle “Music and Artist for Healing” has established itself around a decade. The label was founded out of a tiredness on the part of Bang Sihyuk with regard to the perpetual systems that prevailed in the KPOP at the time.

Today, the company is primarily associated with BTS, because it has made them big and relevant to the music world. But to get an objective impression, we also have to take a look at how the company proceeded before this boy group - after all, there are eight years between the founding and the debut of BTS.

Which artists were there under contract before BTS?

From 2006 to 2007 it was K. Will, one of the most famous Korean solo singers, signed to the label. However, he had dealt with Bang before that, as he was the producer's trainee for five full years. He made his debut in 2007 while his contract was in place. He didn't leave the label out of general satisfaction, but because his agent, with whom he had been working for a long time at the time, Starship Entertainment founded. He is still under contract there today.

Bang was still active as a producer, especially for artists from JYP Entertainment, since he was with JYP was in close contact. At the same time in 2007 a co-managing partner became Source Music entered, with whose CEO Bang is close friends. It was also the first label that Big Hit later acquired. We're talking about 8eight, a co-ed trio that consisted of a female singer and two singers. They even then decided to go their separate ways in 2014. Lee Hyun, one of the members of 8eight, is still under contract with Big Hit today.

In 2010 a collaboration with JYP came about, namely 2AM. The group was co-managed by Big Hit and JYP. That went on until 2014, when the paths also parted here for various reasons. The focus was on the fact that other labels had a better perspective. JYP Entertainment was targeted here, as contacts have already been established through the co-management.

So much for the typical unfortunate circumstances that a small, rather poor label has to struggle with. None of the artists was ever dissatisfied with the management, only the possibilities were criticized - and it is obvious that they did not look so rosy.

In 2012, a group between Big Hit and Source Music was co-managed again, which led to extremely negative headlines, but not for reasons of negative treatment on the part of the labels. GLAM. The girl band, consisting of five members, one of which was named Sasaeng from the actor in 2014 Lee Byunghun turned out. Dahee was the culprit, along with the model Lee Jiyeonwho tried to blackmail him through a compromising video. Since Lee Byunghun is a celebrity in Korea - already been back then - this has of course become a huge thing.

Big Hit Entertainment was contractually obliged to take care of its own artists. Lee Dahee, who was only sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence by a court ruling in March 2015 (instead of a one-year prison sentence, which he specifically asked Lee Byunghun to owe), had to be represented by the label until then. In other words, a lawyer had to be provided and the costs had to be raised first. Unfortunately, BTS previously had the album in August 2014 Dark & ​​Wild published, which did not bring the hoped-for success. For a short time, the future of BTS and Big Hit Entertainment was on a knife's edge.

Back then there were still Lim Jeonghee (since 2012) and David Oh (since 2011) under contract with the label. Both left Big Hit Entertainment in 2015 - however, it is not known whether this is related to the lawsuit. The trio Homme, which at the time was also under contract with the label (since 2010) stayed until 2018. And they only left Big Hit because they wanted to set up their own agency.

It is noticeable at this point that the contracts differ significantly from the usual contract periods. For groups that are managed in cooperation with two or more labels, shorter contract periods are of course common. Also, a singer like Lim Jeonghee who does not belong to the Hallyu Wave will not get a contract for the usual years. The aim was largely unlimited collaborations with their own artists - with the exception of GLAM and BTS. GLAM was then dissolved because it was impossible to help the band back to a positive reputation after the fiasco around Dahee.

Bang Sihyuk wanted to establish a liberal trainee system

In his own words, Bang advocates an environment in which (his words: our beloved) artists can live happily - not just as artists, but first and foremost as people. It was therefore important to him to establish a relatively liberal trainee system with the establishment of BTS months before its debut in 2013. There is supposed to be a balance between developing the skills of the artist and taking care of their mind.

Industry insiders now know that Big Hit has its own team of mental supervisors to help maintain and increase the wellbeing of artists. There are no public reports about who exactly is active in this area and when the department was founded, but practice clearly shows that BTS, TXT & Co. often feel much more comfortable in front of the camera than other industry colleagues. While other groups stand stiffly at award shows and hardly dare to move so as not to do anything wrong, BTS perform for their fans and make them laugh. Note that by the way, because there will be something important later.

Part of this liberal system is also that artists should not be restricted in their music. They themselves have a maximum say in their music, although they were initially encouraged to listen to Bang, who ultimately draws on years of industry knowledge, before and shortly after their debut, but now they decide for themselves which songs are on albums and which Third party written songs they accept. Right from the start, Bang wanted BTS to see the label's production team as an aid and not as a guideline. On the contrary, you are cordially invited to take part in the production yourself - what RM, Suga and J-Hope have also been actively involved since their trainee days.

And the same goes on with all the artists who are now following. Big Hit Entertainment interferes slightly in the labels it has bought and thus in the activities of GFRIEND, SEVENTEEN & Co., but that affects purely its own corporate philosophy. With every purchase, it is fundamentally guaranteed that the companies retain their independence in all matters that affect the artist's production. However, they can always get support from Big Hit and its production team if this is required. For example, GFRIEND showed themselves to be incredibly grateful immediately after their first release under Big Hit Entertainment and mentioned during an appearance in Weekly Idolthat they got help from all sides for the release.

Source Music became a big hit label. Since we've been a label, the company's CEO and staff have helped us a lot. As well from GFRIEND

In general, the principle of artistic freedom applies. In this way, the artists can largely decide for themselves which channels to use to communicate with fans and what to do in times when there are currently no active promotions. Only the platforms that can be used for communication are specified by the label. For example, one of the members does not simply get a clubhouse account without first being approved by the label.

Artists & employees feel good - and you can tell

There are individual situations that have been questionable - you have probably read the article mentioned. For example the staff member who countered his slope Jungkook rises or the manager who Jin referred to as a pig because, in his opinion, he ate too much. Big Hit Entertainment is in constant contact with fans and artists, and work is done regularly on the Sasaengs among the employees.

The label itself has made statements that they are aware of the situation with the Sasaengs. The manager who raised his hand was immediately fired without notice. Such behavior is not tolerated. At the same time, the label also indicates that you cannot know something like this in advance - and they are right about that. You can only look in front of the people and whoever has a group like BTS under his wing, whose popularity is suddenly exploding, has to fight for a moment desperately for staff. And there you quickly hire people without being able to examine them in more detail. In the meantime, the label has improved a lot in terms of the application process. Job portals in Korea praise the company, not only for its meanwhile very sophisticated application process, but also for the many advantages from which the staff benefits.

Disaster Relief Fund, large office space, a snack machine with free content, a free health check, the unlimited opportunity to take a day off if needed - these are just a few of the things Big Hit Entertainment offers its employees. You can read more here. No wonder that for a while a flood of employees from other labels overran to Big Hit! And that applies to all areas, not just to KPOP. Big Hit is meanwhile also very strong in the IT field, here too there are dozens of employees from Naver and cocoa defected to the label - both companies are currently among the most popular employers!

Big Hit also pays the highest salaries in the entertainment industry. This doesn't just apply to the artists.

Big Hit sees itself as a family - literally

We know that one quickly hears the word “family” in relation to a label. Most of the time, however, it has a pale aftertaste, because nothing of this familiar atmosphere can be seen behind the scenes. In the case of Big Hit, it is different, and there is ample evidence of that.

  • The staff comments on all of them Bangtan bombs, Run BTS! etc. and always shows a hearty sense of humor that never goes below the belt and demeans the artist.
  • Many behind the scenes videos show them laughing and joking with each other.
  • There is a video where a staff member starts crying after Jungkook thanks the team in a speech.
  • The in-house producer SlowRabbit burst into tears when BTS got their first Artist of the Year Award received.
  • And otherwise there is cheering, celebrating and even going on stage when the artists with whom they work closely win a prize.
  • Artists celebrate awards with one another, BTS accompany Bang on stage, accompany their chreographers Song Sundeuk on stage and make sure that they get the full attention during their speech. At the same time, they also give TXT this energy shortly after their debut when they are with Boy With Luv winning one award after another in music shows and not letting the rookies off the stage to draw attention to them.
  • Song Sundeuk himself helped out as a background dancer, especially at the beginning of BTS.

On job exchanges and portals where you can rate employers, it is always emphasized that neither producers nor artists who work for Big Hit do not make you feel negative. You would be treated on an equal footing by them - something that is unfortunately rare in the KPOP industry.

How well does Big Hit Entertainment pay its artists & staff?

Let’s take a look at the artists first, and I’ll remind you of a comparison that appeared in the first article in this series.

The distribution of salaries is based on various fields. The list below is in descending order of who pays its artists best, so Big Hit Entertainment pays its artists the best. The breakdown is as follows: Number 1 = label share, number 2 = artist share, the values ​​are percentages.

Big Hit Entertainment

  • Physical sales: 50-50
  • Physical sales for post-produced albums: 30-70
  • Events: 40-60
  • Overseas promotions: 30-70
  • Contract duration: 7 years

YG Entertainment

  • Physical sales: 50-50
  • Physical sales for post-produced albums: 30-70
  • Events: 40-60
  • Overseas promotions: 50-50
  • Contract duration: 7 years

JYP Entertainment

  • Physical sales: 50-50
  • Physical sales for post-produced albums: 30-70
  • Events: 60-40
  • Overseas promotions: 50-50
  • Contract duration: 7 years

FNC Entertainment

  • Physical sales: 60-40
  • Physical sales for post-produced albums: 60-40
  • Events: 60-40
  • Overseas promotions: 50-50
  • Contract duration: 7 years

SM entertainment

  • Physical sales: 95-5
  • Physical sales for post-produced albums: 90-10
  • Events: 60-40
  • Overseas Promotions: 30-70
  • Contract duration: 7 years

And here again, by the way: No, that's not a typo! SM Entertainment actually retains 95% of sales from physical album sales, and still 90% of post-produced albums.

Only overseas promotions bring significantly more to the artists of SM, now think about how often you have seen artists of the label at international activities - in contrast to competitors.

In terms of employee salaries, these are only available for the “Big Three” and Big Hit Entertainment. You can read details here, below you will find the short form:

  • Big Hit Entertainment: around 63,000 US dollars a year, no gender pay gap according to industry insiders
  • SM entertainment: Women around $ 30,000, men around $ 37,000
  • JYP Entertainment: Women around $ 33,000, men around $ 36,000
  • YG Entertainment: Women around $ 28,000, men around $ 36,000
Such contributions are always gross!

Big Hit Entertainment does not owe its artists

The persistent rumor that Big Hit Entertainment is indebted to its artists, as is common in the KPOP industry, is not true. This has already been denied by the label several times. It is expressly emphasized that the costs incurred by the production of a new artist are viewed as an investment.

Of course, it hasn't worked out at BTS as it has now for TXT and subsequent groups, but as soon as the bands bring out their first release, the first salary is paid.

Big Hit Entertainment takes on the KPOP branch for its own artists

Now that you are explicitly one of the market leaders, it is of course a lot easier for you. But they didn’t shy away from messing with the KPOP industry either, if it was for the benefit of the artists.

A very prominent example of this is the way Big Hit Entertainment has approached reality shows. A few times, BTS appeared on shows where they were humiliated by the hosts; here are a few examples:

  • Jungkook was alone on the show Flower crew as a guest, where he brought burgers to the cast who expressed disparagingly about it and refused to accept it. He was visibly injured and indicated to the fans that they should not vote for him so that he does not get into the next round.
  • Jin was at Law of the Jungle in the process, which he had been looking forward to, but then dived too long due to poor safety precautions by the staff there and thus got into a dangerous situation. He was dehydrated and needed medical treatment.
  • When the whole group joined Weekly Idol was a guest, brought Yoongi a song for Doni and Coni, the hosts with. They made fun of it and stopped auditioning.

Big Hit Entertainment decided it would be enough and they led the way Run BTS! their own reality show, in which they could only fall back on formats that would be fun for the boys and are worked out by their own staff. Other artists on the label also have freedom of choice - and are not blocked by the label from attending such talk shows & Co. as they please, if they receive an invitation to do so. BTS also occasionally take part in programs if both sides are interested.

Another prominent example is the appearance at MBC’s Gayo Daejejeon in 2014. BTS, who had previously trained for days for a great performance, were filmed badly at their appearance. Mostly from extremely far away, which made it difficult to distinguish the guys from the background dancers. Less than a week later, they uploaded a video to their own YouTube channel - in a mocking tone from different camera angles.

In 2017, rumors circulated that BTS was similar to the ISAC, so the Idol Star Athletics Championships had been banned because they published several selfies and they were so meticulous about it that information about the current event could leak out in advance. Neither party confirmed this, but Big Hit indicated that there simply wasn't time to do it. That then later for the 100th episode of Run BTS! The hall was rented, could be a coincidence, or it might fit the company's biting cynicism - you have to decide for yourself. In any case, the ISAC was thrown out several times as a result.

In addition, there has been an ongoing dispute between Big Hit and MBC since December 2019. When BTS were invited to New York in 2019 for the special New Year celebration in Times Square (Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve), of course they couldn't be part of MBC's annual New Year's Eve program. Now there was already this damper in 2014, suddenly there were neither TXT nor GFRIEND, which were already closed back then by the merger of Source Music and Big Hit Big hit labels belonged to be guests at the festivities.

Fans were in a rage, numerous accused MBC that they would block artists because they were huffed that BTS was not there - after all, they were also in the year-end programs of SBS and KBS as a guest, because it didn't exactly fall on New Year's Eve. However, this was denied by MBC and no apology was given. Since then, Big Hit Entertainment has switched to stubborn. That was the crux of the matter at which the relationships were cut for the time being and no artist has been with us since Music Core occurs that belongs to the label. Statements like the one about SEVENTEEN, after this Pledis Entertainment was acquired by Big Hit, or that through GFRIEND, show that Big Hit has made a clear statement and does not let its artists jump around.

Fans of the two groups were initially annoyed by this, because GFRIEND and SEVENTEEN of course joined them Music Core occurred, but viewed as a whole, that of course makes sense, which is why the displeasure about it quickly subsided. And if one comes up, it is usually to MBC and especially from CARAT, the SEVENTEEN fandom. Because the band has an important emotional story related to Music Corewhich is about her first music show win and debut and everything. The fact that they were drawn into this dispute by MBC only a few months after joining Big Hit caused great resentment at the time.

Despite everything, a BTS radio show was broadcast on MBC in September 2020 in which she Dynamite have promoted.

If that was a step closer, it came to a rift shortly afterwards. When Big Hit announced its own big end-of-year concert with all the artists under contract there, BTS and TXT flew out Mu-beats pre-votes For Music Core. A clear statement that MBC also brought in quite a shit storm. Both were added back later.

Big Hit is a trailblazer when it comes to legal issues

As soon as one could afford it, a separate legal team was formed in the company, which focuses on protecting the artists. Hate postings, slander and the like will be reported without exception.

In addition, a historic legal case was won by Big Hit Entertainment in October 2019. It was about that of the company I. Various BTS merchandise was released without first consulting the label or the artists. This includes photobooks, posters and jewelry. They were sold internationally and in one package for around $ 340. This led to a legal dispute in terms of copyright law and also because of the right to one's own image, which is known in this country. The latter is not established in Korea - was!

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Big Hit, it started a law in Korea. Before that, there were no legal texts that would have firmly secured something like this.

You listen to the fans as much as possible

On the one hand, Big Hit does not, of course, allow the creative freedom of the artists to be jeopardized by fans. For example, if they absolutely want new releases, but the artists are not ready yet, they won't be pressured by the label and instead the fans will be appeased with other content. On the other hand, there are aspects in which you listen to the fans. So it took time, but a lot of the new content like Bangtan bombs are provided with English subtitles, which was previously requested by the fans en masse.

There are also some things that we go into in more detail in our long article on BTS & Social Justice that should be positively emphasized at this point. For example, before performing at a concert in Saudi Arabia, Big Hit held a training course that BTS and the staff trained in how to be considerate of Muslim culture. At corporate groups in London, such as took place during Ramadan, a pause for prayer was taken. (London has a high proportion of Muslim citizens)

Conclusion: An ambitious company that changes something and learns from its mistakes

Big Hit Entertainment has kept its resolution and has really changed something about the KPOP industry. The company is regularly praised by industry insiders and employees, BTS recently extended their contract to a further seven years and the fact that all artists only have words of praise for the company speaks for itself. Big Hit leads the industry in social benefits and salaries, the artists are not paid so well by any other label and the mistakes, which one must not belittle at this point, are always learned and then done better. That is exactly what you actually want from a company that is so dependent on its own artists and employees.

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