Blackpink members have decided to continue their journey with YG Entertainment, the agency that discovered them. After four months of deliberation, they have renewed their contracts. YG Entertainment expressed relief and happiness about continuing their connection with Blackpink, stating, "We are pleased to continue our relationship with Blackpink and send our unwavering support and belief in their future endeavors."
However, the renewal is limited to their group activities. YG Entertainment clarified that they have signed an exclusive contract for group activities. This means that while Blackpink members will maintain their partnership with YG as a group, they might seek new agencies for their individual activities.
This trend, where idol group members pursue individual careers separately from their group activities, is becoming increasingly common. However, it's still a relatively unfamiliar contract method for fans. Whenever news breaks of an idol signing with a new agency for solo activities, questions arise about whether their contract with the original agency is terminated. For instance, in October, members of the popular boy group EXO made various choices regarding their contract renewal with SM Entertainment. D.O. transferred to the new actor agency Company Soosoo, and Baekhyun reconciled his contract dispute with SM Entertainment, announcing he would establish a new company while maintaining his exclusive contract. When members who have been closely working together under the same agency move to different companies, it can cause concern among fans. However, the issue was temporarily resolved when leader Suho reassured fans about EXO's activities and SM Entertainment clarified that members can operate through their own corporations for individual activities, subject to conditions under their exclusive contracts with SM.
So, when did this new contract method start in the entertainment industry, and why do celebrities choose to sign with two different agencies despite the complications in procedures and settlements?
Splitting management contracts between group and solo activities isn't entirely new. 1st generation idols like Shinhwa and g.o.d also belong to different agencies but continue group activities under Shinhwa Company and iHQ, respectively. Infinite, though all members left their original agency Woollim Entertainment, established their own company, Infinite Company, for group activities.
For groups like Blackpink and EXO, where more than half of the members have renewed their contracts, or groups associated with large music agencies, it's common to maintain the original agency for group activities. 2PM, a representative 3rd generation idol group, renewed their contracts with JYP Entertainment for group activities, except for Taecyeon and Chansung, who shifted to actor agencies. Super Junior members Kyuhyun, Eunhyuk, and Donghae left SM Entertainment after 18 years, each finding their paths with Antenna and Odin Entertainment, respectively, but continue to collaborate with SM for group activities.
There are several advantages to maintaining the original agency for group activities. It allows for the continuation of the group's brand and expertise. It also avoids potential conflicts over group name trademarks if all members leave the agency. However, careful agreement between both agencies and the artist is necessary to coordinate schedules for group and individual activities. An industry insider mentioned, "The artist's commitment to group activities is essential, and mutual agreement from both sides is needed right from the contract stage. If maintained well, it can be an effective way for artists to synergize their activities."
By managing group activities with one agency and solo endeavors with another, artists can enjoy the best of both worlds. They can maintain their group identity while exploring new facets as solo artists. Monsta X's I.M recently left Starship Entertainment and released a solo album with Sony Music, receiving praise for showing a different color from his group activities. Recently, there were reports that Blackpink's Jisoo and Jennie are establishing their own one-person agencies for solo activities. If they become independent, fans can expect solo albums that are distinctively different from the typical YG Entertainment style.
This new approach to contracts in K-pop allows artists to balance their roles in a group while exploring individual artistic paths, potentially leading to more diverse and enriched careers in the industry.