With the K-pop business thriving and companies inevitably looking to capitalize on its popularity, new groups are being churned out at greater and greater rates. As a result, I’ve noticed that the initial reactions to every announcement of a new group, even those from major companies, are met with increasing amounts of skepticism and disdain, probably because there seems to literally be a couple groups debuting every week.
As such, I didn’t really see it as a surprise when the media reported that a rash of group departures have been happening, nor was it shocking when quotes from insiders speculated that more are set to follow.
Music industry insiders took a closer look at the recent trend of idol members’ taking leave of their respective groups.
On May 24th, Dal Shabet‘s Viki confirmed her withdrawal from her group, while Dalmatian‘s Day Day also left the group, and back in April, EXID‘s Yuzi, Dami, and Haeryung also announced their withdrawal from their group. TAKEN (now renamed A-PRINCE) also announced the withdrawal of their members Seungyeol, Gunwoo, and Yoojun, earlier this week.
An anonymous music industry insider predicted that this trend is most likely to continue. ”There are currently a few idol group members who are considering leaving their groups,” the rep revealed.
Reasons for withdrawal include factors such as schooling, career changes, and solo careers. But, internal conflict with their agencies is said to be the deciding factor for the withdrawal of idol group members.
On the issue of conflicts with agencies, another music industry insider stated, “Members blame their agency if their debut isn’t a success, and eventually decide to withdraw the group. Even if their debut is a success, members leave if they think their agency isn’t supporting them enough.”
So you know how people are always complaining about the sheer volume of groups debuting, how they can’t keep track of them all, and that it’s getting tiresome? Well, people are seemingly already tired of it and so are the idols. Basically, the consequences of market flooding are starting to show, if they aren’t in effect already.
While many fans are already familiar with the big names that are making their comebacks this summer, they’ll still be surprised to hear that a whopping 100 teams are scheduled to promote at the same time this summer.
This puts a big strain on the music programs, as there are only so many slots that are free for the taking. Unfortunately, this also means that songs will be heavily cut down to accommodate as many artists on one show as possible.
One industry official expressed, “There are a lot more managers than usual at broadcast halls these days. They are all working for artists with considerable names so it’s a bloody field out there right now. There have been people saying that there will be over 100 teams promoting this summer.”
Despite the expanded market, the fact is that most of these groups will or already have flopped. While our modern attention culture, with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, is undoubtedly flush with ways to draw attention, there are limits to how much the audience has to give. How many things can we possibly be devoted to? After all, there’s a limitation on time for even the most hardcore K-pop stans.
As such, the promises of fame and fortune aren’t going to come true for a majority of the new groups, and while that was always true to an extent, it’s clearly being exacerbated now due to the sheer amount of groups being debuted in recent years.
From 1996 to 2008, 98 groups debuted in K-pop. From 2009 to 2011, 116 K-pop groups stepped to the plate. Right now? Halfway through 2012, 62 more groups have already debuted, besting the yearly high for debuts that was set in 2011, which was 61. Needless to say, the pace is maddening and it’s hard to blame fans for being overwhelmed.
The reality is that oversaturation isn’t coming, it’s been here for a while now and it’s starting to rear its ugly head. Until a market correction comes, odds are that it’ll only get worse, and if the industry sources are to be believed, it’s already underway.