K-pop band sues agency to end contract claims its members gets only $7,000 a year each

K-pop band sues agency to end contract claims its members gets only $7,000 a year each
Popular K-pop boy band B.A.P had an hour-long session at Resorts World Sentosa’s Waterfront Studios on 11 September 2014.

Think you're being underpaid?

You're not alone - even boy bands are not spared, it seems.

And one is even claiming it earns only S$7,000 a year each - or S$580 a month.

Popular K-pop boy band B.A.P shocked fans worldwide when news broke on Thursday in the Korean media that they had filed a lawsuit against their agency to terminate their contract.

The six members cited unfair treatment and the terms in their contract with TS Entertainment as being too partial towards the agency and disadvantageous to them.

In the three years since their debut, B.A.P revealed that they had been paid only US$16,000 (S$20,845) per member in total, while their company earned more than US$9 million from their overwhelming success.

The sudden news took social media by storm, and TS Entertainment has since become a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.

This comes hot on the heels of other K-pop idols filing lawsuits against their agencies this year.

Last month, Luhan left EXO and asked to terminate his contract with SM Entertainment. Fellow member Kris also left EXO in May, citing "slave contract" and "unfair treatment" in his lawsuit.

GROUP

However, this is the first time a K-pop boy band is filing a lawsuit against its agency as a group.

B.A.P, which stands for Best Absolute Perfect, consists of Bang Yongguk, 24; Kim Himchan, 24; Jung Daehyun, 20; Yoo Youngjae, 20; Moon Jongup, 19; and Zelo, 17.

The sextet is one of the top rising boy bands in Asia, bagging 13 Best Newcomer awards that year at events such as the prestigious Melon Music Awards and Gaon Chart K-pop Awards.

The six idols reportedly signed their seven-year contracts with TS Entertainment in March 2011. But the contract came into effect not on the date it was signed, but only when the group's first album was released. B.A.P debuted in January 2012 with the chart-topper Warrior.

Since then, they have released one studio album, three EPs and 18 singles. They held a world tour this year which went to 23 countries including America, Europe, Australia and Singapore.

B.A.P also stated that the share of profit was too beneficial for their agency but not for them.

Local fans are shocked and saddened.

Student Tamana Mulchand, 17, told The New Paper: "I feel very heartbroken. I was in class when it happened, and a wave of sadness and disappointment came over me.

"I don't know which side to believe or support now, but I think it is good that they are sticking up for themselves if they are not feeling happy about it."

HR executive Belinda Chong, 26, said: "I read the rumour that they are only paid a few hundred dollars a month. That's even less than an intern. They work for so many hours every day.

"They must be so overworked that they can't take it any more. I am sure that with their talents, they can be signed by another agency and go further. This won't be the end of B.A.P."

TS Entertainment released an official statement regarding the issue, saying: "We were in the midst of discussing future plans regarding the agreement of (B.A.P) artists when we heard about the lawsuit through reports.

"We are still confirming the details, but 'unfair terms' and 'slave contracts' mentioned in several of the reports are not true.

"We never treated our artists unfairly. We are trying to find the truth behind this supposed lawsuit as fast as possible in order to act officially."

An industry insider who declined to be named told The New Paper that it usually takes about three years or more for a K-pop agency to recover the money it invested in the group from the day that they debut.

He said: "It is unlikely that the agency is keeping millions for themselves. It has to pay for the group's promotions and more. It is unfair to the agency.

"If every new boy band or girl group goes around nullifying contracts, there is no meaning in signing contracts any more. No one would be willing to spend money to sign more newbies in the future."


This article was first published on Nov 29, 2014.
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