30 Idol Groups Debut in 2012, None Stand Out?
By Staff Writer | September 13, 2012 09:50 PM EDT
One Korean corporation is using television commercials with the slogan, "Right now, we need more scientists than idols."
The commercial is based on the premise, "Let's return science to the kids." It reflects on the music industry which is spewing out tons of teenagers who are trying to become celebrities. This has been definitely true for 2012.
According to CJ E&M and Gaon music chart, the numbers of idols that have debuted since January are now at 30 groups, including EXO-K, B.A.P, BTOB, NU'EST, Hello Venus, AOA, FIESTAR, A-JAX, Big Star and C-Clown.
There are even more that are gearing up for debut until the end of the year including Wonder Boys and GIM.
As a result, the three main networks' music programs have been cluttered with idol groups. For "Music Bank," 16 out of 24 teams and for "Music Core" 15 out of 21 teams that appeared were idol groups.
There are voice of concern about how many teams will actually be able to survive this intense competition and thought about the problems in the market that are leading such mass production of the same idol groups over and over again.
Out of the 30 new groups, there are not very many that were able to really get their names out there, even including SM Entertainment's EXO-K and Cube Entertainment's BTOB.
One internet user said, "When I watch a program, everyone seems to be performing the same kind of music with the same kind of concept, where a lot of the members even look the same. None of them really appeal to me and it just exhausts me more than anything else."
Many music experts are now trying to correct the mindsets of the bigger management companies. Even until a few years ago, the management companies took very careful steps in debuting groups, training them for years, but now it seems that a lot of them are being created regardless of the power of the management companies.
One producer said, "A lot of management companies believe that they need idol groups to stay in touch with the times and to make sure that they are able to make foreign sales. That's why a lot of people have been thinking that a lot of teams who are low quality have suddenly appeared at once."
Anticipation and excitement over the debut of new teams have also decreased significantly.
An insider at Melon, a music portal site, said, "A lot of management companies are trying to propose things to us in terms of distribution and records but it's true that expectation about new groups is going down and the diversity in music genres has also decreased."
As supply increases exponentially, the management companies have put these singers up against huge amount of competition.
In an effort to catch the eyes of audiences, many of the groups are attempting more exposing and scandalous outfits, music videos and a lot of "articles" that would lead the people to read them first and realize that the content isn't what they thought it was.
The industry insiders believe that ultimately, the groups that are from management companies with experience, enough financial stability and marketing skills will be the ones to survive. A lot of groups that debuted last year, such as April Kiss, Chocolat, Five Dolls, Wine Hall Venus, and BLADY are not performing well at all. Some of those names are even new to those in the industry.
It also looks like there are a lot of side effects to creating and managing an idol group.
Many groups suffered from internal conflicts and frequent member changes and departures.
The most talked about case of this year was the T-ARA controversy, obviously. As rumors of bullying a member by the group spread wide, many of the fans turned their backs on the group and the group received the blunt of media punishment.
A lot of groups are experiencing member changes. 6-member group EXID saw the exit of 3 members and 2 new members, creating a new 5-member group. Girls Day saw the exit of 2 members and is looking to get 2 more.
The group Dalmatian switched one member and Dal Shabet and Rania saw the exit of one member each. 24-member girl group Leader'S saw the group exit of a big portion of members, which put the group at risk of being disbanded entirely.
Because the management companies feared backlash from the fans for these switches, many of them implemented the label of "graduation" or "unit activity," that would allow them to switch members without much criticism.
A PR insider said, "Because a lot of members are from different backgrounds and personalities and they're forced to live together, it can definitely cause a lot of conflict between the members."
Some scandals involving a management company head and a trainee were also brought to light.
One member from an idol group was found to have been repeatedly assaulted sexually by the management head and he was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
A lot of problems are also occurring in the process of attempting to ride the K-Pop wave to other countries.
Because a lot of idol groups need a lot of investment, management companies will receive investors from foreigners and not carry out the terms of the contract strictly, which is lowering the status of the Korean music industry.
One manager said, "A new management group received about $500,000 in investment but didn't follow through with the terms of the contract. In Japan there are talks of not easily investing in Korean companies, which is shameful."
However, people expect this trend to continue. The question is which groups will be able to set themselves apart from the other and many of them are looking for members to branch out into acting and variety shows. They are also trying to play up members as "artists" like G-Dragon or Yong Junhyung, who compose some of their songs as well.
One record label executive says, "The amazing response to "Gangnam Style" was an anomaly that woke up music producers who were only focused on raising idol groups. It's time to make music that targets the global market and also create content that's high quality in order to compete worldwide."
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