Popular idol groups have opened the second chapter of their career by choosing the “together yet separate” strategy.
SF9’s Zuho announced the news of his exclusive contract with a new agency. SF9’s agency, FNC Entertainment, said, “Zuho has decided to proceed with work related to his personal activities, such as acting, with another company.” They added, “Apart from his individual activities, his team activities will continue without disruption as they are now with FNC Entertainment. Zuho responded, “I plan to meet my fans as a member of SF9.”
Recently, EXO’s Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen also announced that they were making a new start with independent label company INB100. Individual activities at independent labels are carried out based on mutual agreement with SM Entertainment. Their individual activities and CBX team activities will be carried out by INB 100, and EXO group activities will be carried out by SM Entertainment as before. Member D.O. also moved to Company Soosoo last year, but would still continue activities as EXO.
OA, which stands for ODD ATELIER, is a space that aims to create new things that attract attention in a different way from what is usual or expected. It is a label founded by artist JENNIE in November 2023. pic.twitter.com/JkelZ2cAZP
— OA (@oddatelier) December 24, 2023
BLACKPINK also continues only group activities under YG Entertainment. Last month, YG announced, “We recently signed an extension contract for BLACKPINK’s group activities, and agreed not to proceed with a separate additional contract for individual activities.” Since then, Jennie has continued her activities by establishing a label called OA with her mother, and Jisoo is also said to be working with her older brother to pursue individual activities. The whereabouts of Rosé and Lisa have not yet been announced, but they are also expected to join hands with a place that will support their individual activities.
˚✧₊* 𝙃𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙮 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝙔𝙚𝙖𝙧 ⁎⁺˳✧༚
— BTOB·비투비 (@OFFICIALBTOB) December 31, 2023
BTOB‘s members dispersed after parting ways with Cube Entertainment, which they had been working with for 11 years, at the end of last year. Changseob and Sungjae signed with Fantagio and IWill Media respectively, while Eunkwang, Minhyuk, Hyunsik, and Peniel, announced that they would sign an exclusive contract with start-up agencies and continue their activities actively. Although they did not all move to one company, they announced that they would continue their group activities by stating a common position that “BTOB’s activities are a priority and we will actively support them.”
EXO-CBX, BLACKPINK, BTOB, and SF9’s Zuho all signed individual contracts with the company, but announced that they would actively participate in their group’s activities. Although each of them devoted themselves to their individual activities, they signed separate contracts and expressed their strong will to promote as a group. Therefore, it is expected that active group activities will continue in the future.
In the past, if idol group members did not renew their contracts and moved to different companies, it was common for the team to disband. As their affiliations changed, their interests also changed, so it was not easy to get back together. The only idol teams that continued their activities despite changing companies were the first generation Shinhwa and g.o.d.
However, as generations passed, the perception of idols also changed. There has been an increase in the number of idols who want to pursue individual activities more actively and seek new companies while continuing their team activities. Although some of Girls’ Generation‘s members have transferred, they are continuing their activities by coming together in 2022 and releasing an album for the 15th debut anniversary. GOT7, who left JYP Entertainment and became independent, showed a strong will to continue their team activities by releasing an album after transferring the trademark rights. Since then, idol groups’ “separate yet together” activities have become another trend.
Why do idols choose “separately yet together” instead of going their separate ways? An official said, “As idols get older, they want to receive more support for their individual activities, and they look for companies where they can focus more on themselves. However, they are still greedy for their team activities, so even if they go to a new company, they will continue to be in the same group as before.” They added, “In particular, as the number of such cases has increased recently, both companies and idols are often thinking positively about it.”
There is also analysis that this strategy is a “win-win” for both the team’s original agency and members. Another official said, “There are many side benefits that come from maintaining an idol team. Rather than disbanding because some members find new companies, it is beneficial to both the company and the idol to maintain the team even if they are not active often.” They continued, “Idols may have learned something from watching previously disbanded teams quickly losing their fandom. There is nothing to be gained by disbanding. There is a clear difference between idols having a team fandom and not.” Therefore, it is expected that the “separate yet together” strategy would continue for some time.