Here is a fun article from late last year about the business side of K-pop, and how the "idol industry" is dictated by business concerns.
* * *
YG-Version of Girls' Generation -- The Answer Lies In the Stock Market
On November 21, the media reported news about a new girl group by YG Entertainment ("YG") with a sensational headline. The headline from OSEN [TK: an entertainment newspaper] read: "YG's New Girl Group Contracted Not to Have Plastic Surgery." The story reported: "In its exclusive contract with a seven-member girl group to be debuted early next year, YG Entertainment is reported to include a clause that prohibited plastic surgery." It also quoted comments from a YG representative: "The new girl group is entirely consisted of members who did not receive any plastic surgery, and their contract with the company specifies that they would not receive any plastic surgery in the future." The representative further said: "The contract was made possible because the company focused on creating a new girl group that emphasizes the members' natural beauty."
The representative added: "This girl group began with looking at the pretty singers from other management companies, and wondering what color they would take if they performed YG's music. The previous color for YG emphasized talent, but good looks are now included as well. It will be a group that has not existed in the pop music market previously. This group already garnered attention because it would include Kim Eun-Bi, from Mnet's Superstar K 2. Right now it has seven members, although it could add one or two more. They are planning to debut by early next year."
The purpose of this news article appears to be rather clear, considering the timing and the content. The article ran two days before YG's initial public offering with KOSDAQ. It is common-sensical to view this as an information leaked in order to create a buzz right before the IPO. Regardless of the type of business, releasing information about a promising new product right before an IPO is not even a strategy -- it is just common sense.
YG Announces Plans to Benchmark Other Management Companies
But actually, the article was rather shocking, not in the least to the fans of YG, because the girl group described in the article is contrary to YG's original image as a label in every conceivable way. It was akin to YG attempting to imitate SM Entertainment, DSP Media or Core Contents Media. To a certain extent, it could be seen as a betrayal of YG's original direction. The article blatantly states: "This new girl group is the first group where YG can confidently say that we took the looks into account," and plastic surgery was unnecessary because of their excellent looks. By adding the extra bit about how they were "looking at the pretty singers from other management companies," YG reveals that it is benchmarking other management companies.
And some choice quotes from the continuation of the article:
[...]a successful IPO of an entertainment management company is much more than how much domestic market share it has.
The world's second-largest [entertainment] market, i.e. Japan, is 30 to 40 times larger than Korean market.
In Japan, YG is less successful than SM with Dongbangshinki and Girls' Generation and DSP with KARA.
Given these [sales] numbers, the prevailing analysis is that 2NE1 is not headed toward a greater commercial success [in Japan] than Big Bang.
As most analysts still believe that 2NE1 is better suited for the American market than Girls' Generation[...]
Currently, through 2NE1, YG is moving away from the hip-hop/R&B image of the label. "Ugly" by 2NE1 is deep into rock and electronica. It is a good strategy to keep fresh the existing groups with slightly different musical colors[...]
We already knew this to be the case, but isn't it fun to see music you like exposed at such a level as simply the result of background dealings by a profit-oriented company?