(Side Note: In rating agencies, primary objective is to evaluate agencies’ responses to various issues. Responses are a crucial ingredient for agencies’ and groups’ survival, fame, and profitability.
To a lesser extent, financial aspects might be tackled, but will not be a major factor in rating them.)
With some of EXO, Super Junior, and SHINee members serving in military, expect SM’s downturn when it comes to boy groups. But their responses to this situation were very nice.
First is on the remaining members undergoing solo debuts, even if these were not good enough. Most famous were EXO’s Sehun, Chanyeol, and Baekhyun. It also pushed boundaries by forming SuperM, where they combined select members from different groups into one.
It also did not neglect NCT and Red Velvet. In fact, they made dual group and solo comebacks for NCT, plus other tracks for its subunit WayV. It went far to immediately issue statement to protect Taeyong. For RV, the agency took part in “jigsaw puzzle concept” as to keep their sole lead girl group relevant.
Charity works with UNICEF have to be noted, as the agency continuously sustains its SMile program as its corporate social responsibility arm.
Lastly, they are keeping Super Junior alive. Aside from providing solo tracks, they prepared for the complete return of members by providing two comebacks. Maintaining talents like this for a very long time is something other agencies don’t have.
Still, some issues must be responded on. First is on handling older K-Pop groups (f(x) and SNSD). This is not to mention lack of promotions for them. In fact, it’s funny that SM only remembered f(x) through merch when virtually all members left (Amber, Victoria, and Luna), not to mention the latter being happy after leaving the agency.
While solo acts like that of Luna and Taeyeon are worth commending, the agency should consider also applying “SuperM” concept with girl groups. As of now, SM is wasting talents on them. Case in point: Oh!GG.
Second is on providing responses on the talents’ status, which was lacking in cases like Baekhyun, Seulgi, and Yeri.
Finally, they must provide strong measures to protect its artists. Sulli’s death should be a cause for alarm, since depression is not to be taken lightly. They failed on this when Sulli asked for psychological help from the agency, but they just dismissed it.
Considering below-the-belt remarks from netizens, plus intense workshops, SM should’ve taken actions. These include pressing charges against malicious commenters, counselling for artists, and providing breaks.*
As of present, Taeyeon is still battling depression. So, if SM would not respond to protect the mental health of their artists (within their reach), failing grade will be given to the agency next year.
SM plans to add new boy and girl group next year. While this would help the agency with its few roster, the true test lies on how it treats the existing groups, specially the old ones.
Despite some not so good points, positive responses bear fruit for the agency. In fact, Baekhyun’s UN Village, RV’s tracks, and NCT still lead the way from sales to charts. To add, SuperM fared well in their venture to mainstream music. The only question would be on how to take care of its talents in the long run.
Assessment: Needs Improvement
|1||Promotion of groups||4|
|2||Rolling of comebacks||5|
|3||Handling boy groups||5|
|4||Handling girl groups||2|
|5||Assessment as whole||7|
|6||Longevity of groups||10|
|7||Handling issues and responding||7|
* In fairness to SM Entertainment, they exerted some efforts to protect Sulli by pressing charges. But it posed some difficulties: (1) A malicious commenter used foreign IP address to mask his/her location, and (2) even if SM is ready to press charges for other netizens, Sulli decided to abandon it out of generosity.