As Block B’s Park Kyung continues to get his ass sued off for his #EverybodyKnows moment except with naming names included, others have continued to come forward with support and explanations for how the system works, though they seem smart enough to not get sued at least.
One of those is Sultan Of The Disco drummer Kim Ganji, who explained that his group was approached by brokers.
Kim Ganji shared in response that his band has been contacted by a broker, which is a concept that was also explained by music critic Kim Jak Ga in a recent interview. The drummer revealed, “The broker said, ‘You guys have been doing this for about 10 years, so it’s about time that you make it big in this industry. There is somewhat of a context, so [the chart manipulation] can be hidden.’ The offer was for profits to be divided with a ratio of 8:2, with the broker taking 8.” He explained that even if the artists don’t have money, chart manipulation can still be done through this division of profits and the broker paying for any costs initially. He continued, “It can’t just happen, so they give natural exposure to the new song through Facebook pages like ‘Live Performances That Give Goosebumps’ and make it seem like the rankings are suddenly rising due to viral marketing. We thought about it but rejected.” Kim Ganji added, “From the point of view of less famous artists, it can be inevitably tempting.”
What he describes is probably uncoincidentally the exact thing that Nilo and SHAUN were accused of doing, down to the excuse of viral marketing on Facebook.
Critic Bae Soon Tak also found things fishy.
Music critic Bae Soon Tak also said he does not know specifically about the artists mentioned by Park Kyung but noted, “I looked at the graphs [of their chart rankings], and their graphs rise drastically within two hours. They are able to break through even when idols release new music, so it can only be seen as chart manipulation when artists without fandoms suddenly rise at 2 a.m.”
Bae Soon Tak concluded, “The real problem is people who say that even if a song is manipulated on charts, it’s okay if the song is good. Is it excusable just because they’re good at making music although morally wrong actions were taken?”
Sung Si Kyung also spoke up recently about his suspicions.
On November 27, Sung Si Kyung made a guest appearance on a KBS radio show and shared his thoughts on the topic. He said, “There is a lot of talk about sajaegi recently, but there’s something that I myself heard directly as well. I heard that musicians are being told to get rid of the instrumental opening and any instrumental interludes. Those companies [implied to be the companies that offer chart manipulation services to agencies] participate in the production process by saying, ‘Get rid of the instrumental parts and make the title like this.’” Sung Si Kyung continued, “A producer I know gave an unfinished song to someone and he was told, ‘Can you change the lyrics like this?’ He refused right away. I heard that and thought, there must be something going on.”
Hong Seung Sung essentially came out and supported Park Kyung, but unlike him, was smart enough to not say anything that could get him sued.
Also on November 27, Cube Entertainment’s founder, Hong Seung Sung, shared a tweet that read, “Online music sajaegi must be eradicated. I will cheer you on. Stay strong.”
Veteran moves right here.
Feel bad for Park Kyung for saying outloud what everybody else was thinking, but also #EverybodyKnows was shade for a reason.
Again, this is one of those issues that investigations before have proven nothing but we know is definitely going on — accusations circulate constantly but it blows up into A Thing like every other year. It’s not like it’s random speculations from netizens and upset fandoms, it’s people within the industry who have been talking about it. Of course, it is still extremely funny to me that one of the reasons investigating the charts don’t work is because the patterns of idol fandoms having streaming parties and stuff make it hard to prove that’s not what’s happening with these artists. Regardless, I suppose any time could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back on this, but I just wouldn’t hold my breath.
Others have also spoken out.
On the December 3 broadcast of SBS’s “Night of Real Entertainment,” the entertainment news show reported on the topic with interviews from industry insiders.
One insider said, “People discuss a price of around 80 million won (approximately $67,196). The monthly profit for the song is around 100 million won (approximately $83,994) if you enter the top 10 rankings, so it’s not a losing business. I heard that they get internet cafes in a rural area, give out 20 IDs for each person, and make it go up at dawn.”
Another source said, “It cost around 100 million won (approximately $84,009) in the past, but it costs about 100 million to 200 million won (approximately $168,018) now. Then, getting in the top 10 rankings on the charts is guaranteed.”
The use of viral marketing has been described as a possible explanation for certain songs suddenly rising on the charts, and the source described this as an excuse. They said, “They create reasons for why it rose on the charts, so they make an excuse by promoting on social media.”
An industry insider said, “The companies that are the biggest topics are ‘A’ and ‘B.’ They’re famous for being good at viral marketing on social media.” In response, a source from company “A” stated, “If you’re looking at it from a frame of sajaegi, we can only tell you that we definitely did not do it. We don’t know how to show proof when we didn’t do it. What did the National Assembly member say last year? They said that we are the ‘Druking’ for people in their 20s. We feel uncomfortable being treated as if we’re criminals.” Druking is the alias of a blogger who’s known for manipulating the “likes” and “dislikes” on online comments about politics to influence public opinion.
Explaining the difficulty of uncovering the truth behind sajaegi accusations, one expert said, “If [a song] doesn’t rise on the charts, the public forgets about it. Because of that, everything is put on the line to enter the charts. After the contract is signed, they reveal their tactics and work space. They only share this once you become an accomplice, so we have no choice but to wait for the emergence of a whistle-blower.”