Below is an interesting article written by Korean media outlet, Star Today, pointing out the weaknesses of the "Big 3" South Korean entertainment agencies.
SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and YG Entertainment are the so-called "Big 3" entertainment agencies of South Korea. With extensive planning, funding and tactical marketing, they possess a significant portion of equity in the music industry. However, even they have inevitable weaknesses.
To start out, SM's weakness lies in its extremely rigid system. After its release of male idol group, H.O.T., SM has focused on "blockbuster" idols that can be well showcased. Although systematically built on the ideal idol image, overseas music trends, chic styling, and massive amounts of publicity, the SM system is still vulnerable to that '1% of unpredictability'. The reason being that in the case of popular music, just 'having the secret potion and knowing the magic spell', does not necessarily produce a hit song.
An example of this case would be newly debuted boy group, EXO. Displaying good looks, outstanding talent, endless publicity starting 100 days before their big debut, lyrics appealing to teens, and large scale music, the group possessed the formula for success, yet was unable to see results up to par with expectations.
Surprisingly enough, it was because they possessed all of the ideal elements which resulted in evaluations stating that the group does not stand out among the plethora of idol groups. Being so "typical" can display the group as lacking their own unique color. This is where SM's "bold investments" can hinder the success of its' artists, because the greater the investment, the greater the pressure is to bring in revenue. If going by the statement, 'It is not the strong that survive, but rather the ones that survive are strong', then with exception to BoA, there are no "strong" artists.
On the other hand, JYP's biggest weakness lies in the head of the agency himself, Park Jin Young. His signature 'simple yet catchy' songs are the reasons why the Wonder Girls, 2PM, Miss A, and others are considered representatives of K-Pop; however all of the title songs have been his creations. Although it is said that Park Jin Young's songs are picked even against the collection of songs the A&R team has compiled, they cannot deny the fact the at least three of the agency's artists have yet to promote a title song produced by anyone other than Park Jin Young.
The biggest problem musically would be that because the songs are produced by one individual, all of the songs can generally sound similar. Even in the case of 2PM's Wooyoung, whose individuality should shine through his debut as a solo artist, one cannot help but notice the stylistic similarity of his recently revealed title song to the songs of 2PM.
Although it could be seen as a "direction of enterprise", it can unintentionally be crippling for idol groups who are always searching for new images that appeal to audiences. In reality, six year veteran idol group Wonder Girls have yet to break out of the retro concept they created early on with songs, "Tell Me", "So Hot", and "Nobody".
Last but not least, YG's biggest weakness can be noted in their very closed system of communication. This can be seen in their relationships with broadcasting companies. YG entertainment has a particularly strong relationship with SBS compared to its relationships with KBS and MBC. Debut stages and appearances on SBS's 'Inkigayo' are always a priority for groups such as Big Bang and 2NE1. As a result, KBS and MBC can seem somewhat neglected in comparison.
When this problem turns from a simple music program problem, to the discrimination of all variety and entertainment programs, it makes it even more difficult for all other broadcasters other than SBS. SBS in reality, exclusively enjoys appearances by YG artists. During the time of Big Bang's comeback, the broadcast station arranged an hour long special program for the group, who also appeared on many of its major variety programs, such as 'Healing Camp', 'Running Man', and 'You & I'.
This is the case not just with television, but also with newspapers, magazines, and other media. It may not be a big problem for artists that have reached a certain level of success; however that is not the case for new artists. The smallest negative matters brought up by sides that are not "alliances", can cause a fatal blow on up and coming artists.
Another significant setback is that the agency is highly dependent on one artist, Big Bang. In the year 2010, Big Bang was responsible for a whopping 70.1% of YG entertainment's total sales. This could mean that YG is more focused on Big Bang than any of its other artists, but it can also mean that if a problem were to occur with the group, the whole company could be at stake.
Did the arguments given above have you nodding in agreement or do you see things differently? Let us know in the comments section below!