BIGHIT, SM, Pledis, JYP, And More Reveal To Dispatch Why They Can’t Just Stop Their Albums From Being Sold At Synnara

It’s not nearly as easy as you’d think.

A total of 18 agencies, including BIGHIT Music, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and Pledis Entertainment, revealed to Dispatch why they aren’t able to stop the sales of their artists’ albums on Synnara following the revelation of the company’s ties to a murderous cult.

Currently at any Synnara Records location around South Korea, albums from IVE, BLACKPINK‘s Jisoo, NewJeans, NCT DoJaeJung, and SEVENTEEN can be found on the shelves for K-Pop fans to buy. However, the agencies for these artists, such as Starship Entertainment and Pledis Entertainment, have publicly boycotted the distributor, leaving Synnara off the list of places fans can order their artists’ albums from. Yet the stores’ shelves are still stocked with their albums.

Dispatch interviewed a total of 18 agencies about why this was the case. Was it just media play by the agencies? Or was it a problem within the album distribution industry as a whole? The 18 agencies that participated in Dispatch’s interview are as follows:

  1. Starship Entertainment
  2. WM Entertainment
  3. IST Entertainment
  4. SM Entertainment
  5. Pledis Entertainment
  6. HIGHUP Entertainment
  7. BIGHIT Music
  8. Cube Entertainment
  9. iMe Korea
  10. Source Music
  11. Maroo Entertainment
  12. Mystic Story
  13. Popmusic Entertainment
  14. JYP Entertainment
  15. Star Empire
  16. Superbell Company
  17. Wake One Entertainment
  18. RBW

Dispatch decided to summarize each agency’s answer into a streamlined format, so answers to Dispatch’s questions will be the collective thoughts from all 18 agencies interviewed.

Synnara Records is a company created by Kim Ki Soon, the leader of the Aga Dongsan cult, in 1982. The profits made through Synnara were a major source of funding for the Aga Dongsan cult. The cult ultimately also profited greatly thanks to taking advantage of the hard labor of their followers. Currently, Synnara has about 50 employees, but not all of them are affiliated with the cult. You can read more about the Aga Dongsan cult below.

Synnara Record Allegedly Still Has Connections To Murderous Cult Featured In “In The Name Of God: A Holy Betrayal”

Q: Did the agency know about the issues surrounding Synnara?

A: Honestly, wouldn’t the agency have at least a little bit of an idea? It’s a company created by a cult called Aga Dongsan, right? Even so, we would not have known what Kim Ki Soon was like. That’s why [the issues] are even more shocking.

Q: How does selling albums actually work?

A: Most agencies have contracts with distributors. The agency and the distributor sign a contract, then the distributor will supply the albums to the sales outlets such as Synnara.

Q: What is the position of Synnara then? Are they the one-top for album sales?

A: In the past, there was a saying: Online [sales] is Synnara, offline [sales] is Hottracks. In reality, there were many fan events (fansigns) that were held through Synnara. However, Synnara’s share of album sales has decreased significantly. Albums can be bought through many different platforms now. There are also more agencies with their own stores…

Q: We are curious about the structure of the contract. Who has more power in the relationship?

A: In the case of the relationship between the producer and the distributor, the agency has more power over the distributor. In terms of distribution and sales, the distribution company has more power over the seller. For example, Starship Entertainment would have more power over Kakao, who is the distributor. But Kakao would have more power over Synnara, which is the seller of the album.

Q: Can’t the agency request for sales [at a specific store] be banned?

A: It can be possible between the parties, but it is by no means a simple matter. If the contract is just a one-time deal, it is possible to just say “don’t send this album to Synnara.” However, agencies, distributors, and Synnara have been intertwined through contractual obligations for a long period of time.

Q: For a long time? Can you give an example?

A: Take an agency. They are debuting a rookie idol, but won’t sell their albums at a store. Then what about the past albums for their more veteran groups? What about the stock of albums the store already has? Agencies, distributors, and vendors have maintained their trading relationship for a long time now. As soon as a company decides to pull a new album off the shelves, they also have to pull out all of their past artists’ albums.

Q: Is there a problem to disposing the leftover stock?

A: That was just one example. There is a more fundamental problem. The agency signs a contract with the distributor, and the distributor signs a deal with Synnara. What about overseas areas? There is no stopping foreign fans from purchasing from Synnara.

Q: Is there no way to cut off the supply of albums to Synnara?

A: Let’s say there was an illegality in the sales process. The agency or distributor cannot request a sales ban based on the breach of contract. Synnara’s chairman’s personal problems are not attributable to the sales contract either. The albums can’t be forcibly removed from Synnara.

Q: This brings back the past UNIQLO boycott.

A: That’s right. At the height of the anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea, the “NO JAPAN” movement took place in the country. There was also a campaign to stop buying from UNIQLO and to not wear their products. But were people allowed to create barricades in front of UNIQLO? It was just voluntary participation in the boycott against UNIQLO, it can’t be forced. And, there’s another problem.

Q: Another problem?

A: What about the realistic problems that small and mid-sized agencies face. The issue of a so-called “MG” (minimum guarantee) is one of them. Synnara and other vendors present a minimum guaranteed amount of albums they will buy to small and mid-sized agencies. In other words, they are paying the agency in advance for the albums, for example “we will purchase 20,000 copies of the album in advance.” If the agency receives the MG, it is impossible to remove the album from the vendor’s shelves.

Q: How are agencies reacting now?

A: Agencies seem to be trying to exclude Synnara. The best thing for agencies to do now is to exclude Synnara from their announcements of where to purchase the album.

Q: What effect can be expected from this?

A: In fact, there are many places to buy albums now that are not Synnara. There is YES24 and Aladin, among others. Agencies can lead fans to other platforms and help fans sensibly spend their money. Starship did well starting it off.

Q: Is there any other way besides the album sales announcements?

A: There are many ways, and one is by excluding fan events for the vendor. With this, the agency is eliminating the perks of choosing to purchase an album through Synnara, where the perk may be a fansign. Most agencies have agreed to not hold fan events with Synnara.

Q: Could there be a change in the contract length with the distributor?

A: It’s hard to give an answer at this momeny. Let’s say an overseas company maintains their relationship with Synnara. The overseas sales can’t be ignored either. There are so many extra things that have to be checked.

Ultimately, Dispatch shared that it is up to the fans to put the boycott into action. If the fans purchase the albums from other vendors, then Synnara will be the most affected party.

Source: Dispatch
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