Every year, some of the biggest idols in K-Pop decide to leave the agencies they built a career with for seven years—but why? Former idol Blady‘s Tina (now known as soobeanie_ on YouTube) revealed some of the main reasons she’s seen in a new “Idol Insider” video.
1. Lack of income
Despite staying with their agencies for several years, many K-Pop idols don’t make a single cent during their contract period according to soobeanie. Others barely make enough to scrape by.
Soobeanie explained that there are numerous groups that most K-Pop fans never even hear of because they’re not big enough to make it onto music shows. Such groups often struggle to make enough money to see being an idol as a viable career. As such, groups with little income tend to disband rather than renew their contracts when the time comes.
It sucks because the amount of money that is put into you is probably going to be more money than you are going to be making for them at the end of the day… It is honestly a very tough environment and it is not the most stable job.
2. Lack of popularity
Many fans presume that the most popular groups will be the most likely to leave their agencies. After all, they’re likely to have plenty of good offers from other companies desperate to snap up a profitable artist. However, soobeanie explained that the less popular idols are often the ones who decide not to renew their contracts.
According to the former idol, that’s because companies tend to pay more attention to their “breadwinners” and give them better promotions. If an artist isn’t getting a lot of comebacks and promotions because they don’t make enough money, that may push them to leave when their contract ends.
It sucks when you kind of see [agencies] brush all of the other idols under the rug… I think that is one reason why a lot of K-Pop fans are always saying, “They deserve better”.
This can also apply to individual idols as well as groups. Soobeanie went on to say that when one idol is far more popular than the rest of the group, tensions can form. Sometimes, it leads to the other members having “substantially bigger debt“; other times, popular members may feel it’s unfair that they have to share their individual profits with the rest. Ultimately, this can lead to idols deciding not to renew.
3. Difficulties getting along
Similarly, idols often leave their agencies because of general disputes with their fellow members. Whether one idol is the target of bullying or a few members of the group simply don’t like each other, few artists want to remain in a hostile environment.
On top of that, some idols decide not to renew their contracts because they don’t get along with the agency CEO or the rest of the staff. Soobeanie says that sometimes, it can be “very frustrating” when you can’t come to an agreement with the company, to the point that artists decide to move elsewhere.
A lot of K-Pop idols sign with different entertainment companies because they feel like they could be taken better care of.
4. Lack of freedom
Soobeanie says that one of the most frustrating issues idols have that pushes them to leave their agencies is a lack of freedom. This includes a lack of creative freedom, where companies prohibit their artists from participating in songwriting, music video direction, styling, and more.
It also includes personal freedom. Soobeanie revealed that even several years past the rookie stage, some companies still control their idols’ every move. Some idols hate their dating bans, while others aren’t even allowed to go out with friends. When groups don’t feel like their daily lives are worth sacrificing anymore, they often decide to disband.
5. Different career paths
While idols spend the majority of their time performing and making music, many stars also pursue other fields like acting, variety hosting, YouTube, advertising, and even avenues like real estate and business. According to soobeanie, that’s why going down a different career path is a “very common reason why you might see a lot of groups disbanding“.
Some idols come to realize that being an idol didn’t meet their expectations, while others simply want to find an agency that better suits their varied interests.
6. Poor renewal benefits
When contract renewal periods roll around, agencies often offer their artists far better contract terms than they originally had. Whether that involves more creative freedom or a better profit share, these benefits are a way for agencies to convince their best artists to stay at the company.
However, soobeanie says that’s not always the case. In fact, many idols decide not to renew their contracts because their agencies didn’t offer them good enough contract terms.
7. A “no” from the agency
Ultimately, some idols don’t renew their contracts simply because their agencies no longer want them. While soobeanie says it’s rare that companies want to lose all the money and effort they put into an artist or group, they do sometimes decide to let idols go. Some reasons for this include wanting to invest in younger idols, wanting to invest in actors instead, poor financial situation, and more.
To hear more about soobeanie‘s insider experience, watch the full video for yourself here: