How Do K-pop Idol Group Members Get Paid?
Without a doubt, more and more K-pop idol groups have been sprouting up in the Korean music industry. The growth of K-Pop has doubled over the decades, which makes everyone ask: How much money do K-Pop idols really make?
As we all know, each band member does not receive the same amount of attention and gigs. So, does that affect their paycheck? Does the money made by one member get split among the other members, or is it kept all for themselves?
Nichkhun of 2PM is one example of this situation. If he films an ice cream commercial in Korea, a beverage commercial in Thailand, appears on variety shows, and stars in a television drama, how much of the money he makes actually goes into his pocket? Here’s the answer:
- The ice cream commercial will be even split between all six members. Nichkhun will be able to keep the money made from the Thailand commercial.
- Money from the variety show appearances will be split between the six members.
- Nichkhun will receive the entire amount of money made from the television drama.
This system was an initial contracted agreement between 2PM and JYP Entertainment. All profit made must be split among the six members, with exception from the drama roles and commercials filmed in their individual homelands. Splitting profit between six members may seem like a lot of money, but consider groups like SNSD, with nine members, Super Junior with 10 (at the moment), and 20 Star with seventeen members (wavering). Then the situation then becomes a different story.
JYPE and Cube Entertainment both follow the equal pay distribution system. The pay is equally divided among all the members–even if one member has more gigs or appearances than the others. One official explained:
“If a member gets some individual work, it’s because he’s ultimately a member of the respective idol group.”
Not all entertainment companies follow the same system. For example, SM Entertainment is a company that frequently has their entertainers multi-task. Seen through promotion and appearances, there are usually members who are featured more than the others. For example, SNSD‘s Yoona & Taeyeon and Super Junior‘s Heechul & Leeteuk. An SM Entertainment official commented:
“Because the difference in pay between the highest paid Super Junior member and the lowest paid Super Junior member is so big, their vibe [together] is a bit weird.”
Pledis Entertainment and Core Contents Media use yet a different system. The members from each of these companies are allowed to keep what they individually earn. However, whenever a Core Contents Media group is featured on a variety show, the company keeps the entire pay. The company considers that is justified, because appearances on variety programs are used to promote the group albums, and the pay per episode is not a great deal of money. So, having that money go to the company will not negatively affect the group. One entertainment industry insider commented:
“Whether you do it this way or that way, there are bound to be complaints. In the case of splitting the pay, members with more active schedules have the most complaints. As for systems where each member gets to keep their own pay, the less popular members [with less work] has the most complaints. There’s a reason behind the fact that idol groups form easily and break up easily.”
Which distribution method do you believe is the best?