Recently, a reader asked a question about Block B’s battles against their management company. It’s a great question so I decided to address it in a more open forum here. I’ve been aware of their struggles but haven’t really been following it very closely. Frankly, Block B isn’t really a boy band I follow and I feel like the only instance in which they register on my radar is when a scandal pops up. Though, it’s not the first time an idol or a young star has had problems of this nature. However, I’ll just share my personal opinion on this particular situation from the tidbits I’ve gathered from the news outlets.
So the question(s) goes as follows:
Since you follow the K-entertainment industry, what do you think of this whole Block B vs. Stardom news? Do you think Block B, by insisting that they will not work with Stardom again is essentially going on strike until they get paid, and do you agree with them that Stardom threatening their individual projects is violating their right to work?
And I suppose my biggest question is: would the Block B members be able to find other work now? What did other stars with agency disputes do?
From what I could gather about Stardom Entertainment, it was started by Cho PD in 1998. Since it’s inception, the company has gone through many changes which includes changing their name and rebranding the company a few times. It discovered a few well-known artists like Ra. D and Dok2 but they’ve gone their separate ways since. Last year, the company changed again when it decided to split and become what is now known as Stardom and Brand New Music. The artists that went with Brand New Music are Phantom, Skull and Miss $ to name a few. I feel like the only well-known group with Stardom is Evol and Block B. I say well-known but they’re still kinda low on the idol totem pole. Stardom has produced some stars but in my opinion doesn’t have the greatest track record.
It’s important to remember that the members of Block B are young. When a young idol makes a contract with a company, oftentimes, it’s the parent who looks it over, if they even do look it over. I don’t really have a reason to doubt that the necessary terms weren’t written into the contract but once it’s signed, they just have to put their trust in the company.
The members of Block B want to go their separate way but their contract states that they have an exclusive deal with them which is pretty typical of an entertainment deal. Usually if you break the contract, a fine will need to be paid as compensation but I doubt Block B has garnered enough income to pay the fine if it reaches that point.
In terms of the company, it’s the idol who is the face of the company. When a scandal breaks, it’s the company who helps them in front of the media and even supports them while they lay low. So the group doesn’t make income but also the company doesn’t make income. If an idol leaves, their obligations to the company is over. So while it may sound nasty that the company is threatening the group’s individual activities, I can also see where the company is coming from as their success is based on the company’s reputation and past success. It’s hard for outsiders to see past that especially if you’re a fan of the group.
As for the group, they’re arguing that since there is income in which the company has yet to pay to them, it’s the company who broke the terms of the contract first. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough proof that the income of those promotions should have gone to the group. I know, sounds crazy right? But that’s how Korea’s entertainment industry works. It depends on the event or promotion and what deals were worked out. However, the court has said that there is some indication that the group is due some money but without failure to produce this proof it just becomes hearsay. Currently, Block B wants to appeal the court’s decision but I really don’t see how feasible the appeal process will be.
I think at this point Stardom Entertainment just wants to be rid of this group so they’ll probably end up paying a compromised fee. It’s doesn’t appear that Stardom has enough power to block the group from individual promotions. It’s not a big enough company like the Big 3 or even as established as some of the other labels. Having said that, the Block B members still have an uphill battle in the entertainment industry. People haven’t quite forgiven them for the Thailand incident. For any chance at future success, I think it’d be good for each of the members to burn the Block B name from their history and reinvent their image. If they’re talented enough, I don’t doubt that they should be able to survive this.