K-Media Delves Into Why K-Pop Idols Are Establishing Their Own Independent Labels

This gives them more freedom.

Following K-Pop girl group BLACKPINK, EXO‘s unit group EXO-CBX (Baekhyun, Xiumin, Chen) has established independent labels, attracting attention to the new moves of major artists from large entertainment companies.

Recently, EXO-CBX announced the establishment of the independent label INB100 and announced that they will begin full-scale individual activities. The members of CBX debuted in the music industry as EXO members in 2012 and have continued their activities as part of a team for over ten years. Among them, unit group CBX  was active, but this was only a short unit activity that did not overlap with EXO’s activities.

EXO-CBX | SM Entertainment

In particular, Baekhyun and Chen are the team’s main vocalists, and Xiumin also serves as a sub-vocalist and sub-rapper, making them EXO’s indispensable resources. Their attractive vocals and singing skills have been a major driving force behind EXO’s popularity since their debut. For them, it would have been disappointing to be confined to EXO in order to demonstrate their capabilities and take on many challenges.

One music agency official said, “It is true that among group members, especially vocal members, there is a strong tendency to want to become independent as time goes by,” adding, “In addition to the increased value of their name, their individual capabilities have been recognized by the public. Therefore, rather than remaining in the team, the goal is to be more diverse and make more substantial profits through individual activities.”

In fact, D.O., who was the main vocalist in the team with Baekhyun, also established a one-man agency, Company Soosoo, and is actively working as an actor as well as a singer.

Recently, in addition to CBX, BLACKPINK and BIGBANG’s G-Dragon also announced a new beginning by settling in with a new agency. Despite being part of a large entertainment company, YG Entertainment, the biggest reason for their departure is interpreted as limited musical challenges.

BLACKPINK | YG Entertainment

An industry official stated, “It is not easy for agencies with distinct musical styles such as YG, SM, and JYP to pursue the music style that each artist wants. This is because there is a texture to the music pursued by the agency, and the choreography and music are determined within that larger framework. Even if members write and compose their own lyrics, they are often tied to the agency’s style.”

In the end, the members who felt frustrated left to pursue more free musical attempts without being bound by the entertainment company’s musical style.

Here, another decisive reason for them leaving their agency is the emergence of prominent junior groups from the agency that cannot be ignored. In the case of SM Entertainment, there are currently junior groups that are very active with new music styles, such as the groups aespa and RIIZE. YG also debuted a new girl group called BABYMONSTER. The agency’s intensive management system, which was intended for BLACKPINK and EXO members, has no choice but to be dispersed to multiple groups.

RIIZE (left) and BABYMONSTER (right) | SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment

For this reason, albuns of senior groups such as BLACKPINK and EXO is significantly slower than in the past. In the case of EXO, they only released their seventh full-length album in about 3 years and 6 months last year and have not shown any active music activities before. BLACKPINK has also not released any new albums since their second full-length album, BORN PINK, released in September 2022.

In this way, in order for members such as BLACKPINK, EXO-CBX, and G-Dragon to focus on their individual activities and demonstrate their capabilities, the establishment of a one-person agency is an inevitable choice. Of course, they will maintain their existing team activities under the management of their original agency. Attention is being paid to what kind of wind the new movements of major artists from large entertainment companies that led an era will bring to the music industry in the future.

Source: mk