S.M. Entertainment

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Not to be confused with Sony Music Entertainment.
S.M. Entertainment
Native name
에스엠 엔터테인먼트
SM 엔터테인먼트
Public
Traded as KRX: 041510
KRX 100 Component
Industry
Genre
Founded 1989 (as SM Agency)
February 1995 (as SM Entertainment)
Founder Lee Soo-man
Headquarters Seoul, South Korea
Key people

Kim Young-min (CEO)

Lee Soo-man (President, Producer)
Services
  • Record Distribution
  • Licensing
  • Publishing
Revenue
  • $276,029,895.68 (2015 Dec)
  • $30,892,993.85 (2015 Dec)
  • $15,596,096.93 (2015 Dec)
Number of employees
321 (2015)
Subsidiaries
  • S.M. Culture & Contents
  • SM Entertainment Japan
  • SM Entertainment USA
  • DreamMaker Entertainment
  • SM Entertainment Beijing
  • SM Food & Beverage Development
  • Galaxia SM
  • ALEL Co.,Ltd.
  • Everysing Japan
KeyEast
Slogan The future of culture technology
Website Official Website

S.M. Entertainment (HangulSM엔터테인먼트) is a South Korean entertainment company established in 1995 by Lee Soo-man. It is currently one of the largest entertainment companies in South Korea.[1][2] The company operates as a record label, talent agency, music production company, event management and concert production company, and music publishing house.

The label is home to prominent K-pop artists such as BoA, TVXQ, Super Junior, Girls' Generation, SHINee, f(x), EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, and formerly to pioneering groups H.O.T., S.E.S., Fly to the Sky, and Shinhwa. It also manages a number of actors, including Go Ara, Kim Ian, and Lee Yeon-hee. In Japan, S.M. Entertainment co-publishes Avex Trax releases for artists including Ayumi Hamasaki, Namie Amuro, and Koda Kumi, as well as Johnny's Entertainment artists such as Arashi and KAT-TUN.[3]

In 2015, S.M. Entertainment had reported revenues of KR₩325 billion (approximately US$287 million) and a net income of KR₩21.7 billion (US$19 million).[4]

History[edit]

1989-2000: Creation and first generation artists[edit]

After graduating from California State University, Northridge in the U.S., Lee Soo-man returned to Korea and established 'SM Studio' in Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam, Seoul in 1989. The business changed its name to S.M. Entertainment and set up its capital fund in February 1995[5] with Jung Hae-ik as CEO.[6] The agency developed an 'in-house' production system and produced a string of successful artists including boy group H.O.T. in 1996, girl group S.E.S. in 1997, Shinhwa in 1998, and R&B duo Fly to the Sky in 1999. Kim Kyung-wook became CEO of the company in 1998.

2000-2005: Affiliations and second generation artists[edit]

The early 2000s saw the disbandment of both H.O.T (in 2001) and S.E.S (in 2002), as well as the departure of Shinhwa to a new agency, and in the following years, new groups such as duo Isak N Jiyeon and boy group Black Beat failed to attain the popularity of previous S.M. artists.[citation needed] In December 2000, S.M. became affiliated with Fandago Korea. In January 2001, the company founded an overseas division, S.M. Entertainment Japan.[citation needed] Around the same time, the company was approved for listing on KOSDAQ, and an affiliation was established between S.M. and Avex Trax. The subsidiaries BM Entertainment and Cid. K Entertainment (under which the girl groups M.I.L.K. and Shinvi were signed respectively) were also formed, but later became defunct as the groups disbanded.

April 2002 saw shares increase by 1,341,180, and in June, an additional 61,048 as a result of third-party capital.[citation needed] In late 2002, S.M. was awarded the Grand Prix of Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the Culture Contents for Export Award in music.[citation needed]

In 2003, S.M. became affiliated with Starlight Corporation Ltd. and C-Cube Entertainment Corporation. The same year, the company debuted five-member boy group TVXQ. The following years saw the debuts of artists such as TRAX (2004), The Grace (2005), and Super Junior (2005).

2005-2010: Expansion and international artists[edit]

In 2005, Kim Young-min became the company's third CEO,[7] under whom several artists debuted with a view to promoting outside of South Korea. Artists debuting under S.M. at this time were solo singer of Chinese descent Zhang Liyin (2006), Japanese-language soloist J-Min (2007), Girls' Generation (2007), SHINee (2008), and f(x) (2009). In April 2008, a Mandarin-language subunit of Super Junior was formed, Super Junior-M. In October 2008, S.M. announced plans for a debut in the United States for BoA under subsidiary label SM Entertainment USA.

In May 2008 the SM Art Company was formed with Pyo In-bong as co-CEO, aiming to produce musical and theatre works. Its first production was of Xanadu, which starred Super Junior members Heechul and Kangin.[8]

2010–present: Joint and further ventures[edit]

In February 2010, after two decades on the board of directors, founder Lee Soo-man resigned from his position in order to "focus more energy on SM's overseas business, new business management and artist development".[9] In March, KMP Holdings was established as a joint venture between S.M. Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, Star Empire, Medialine, CAN Entertainment and Music Factory.[10] The firm's first release from S.M. was Super Junior's fifth studio album, Mr. Simple, which marked the end of S.M.'s self-distribution. In May, S.M. announced its highest ever first quarter operating profits, at KR₩10.4 billion, up 471% from the same period the previous year. Gross revenue was reported at KR₩22.7 billion, a 58% increase on the previous year.[11]

In April 2011, S.M. Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, KeyEast, AMENT, and Star J Entertainment joined to create ‘United Asia Management'. In August, S.M. joined with Thai media company TrueVisions Group to create 'SM True'.[12]

Super Junior at the MTV Exit Hanoi Concert in 2010.

In 2012, S.M. debuted boy group EXO in two units to promote in both Korea and China.[13] In February, S.M. acquired Hawaiian travel firm Happy Hawaii and launched a new business initiative specialising in travel and tourism, SMTown Travel, with Kang Jung-hyun as CEO.[14][15] SMTown Travel offered concert packages for overseas fans attending Super Junior's Super Show 4 Tour encore concerts in Seoul.[16] In March, 47 of S.M.'s artists including Kangta, BoA, TVXQ, CSJH The Grace, Super Junior, Zhang Li Yin, Girls' Generation, SHINee, f(x), Go Ara, Isak, and Lee Yeon Hee became stockholders of S.M. Entertainment. Kangta, BoA, and most of the Super Junior and Girls’ Generation members received 680 shares each (with a value of around US$27,200 for each person), while SHINee and f(x) members received 340 shares each (value of around US$13,600 for each person).[17] In August, S.M. held the S.M.ART EXHIBITION at the COEX Convention & Exhibition Center[18] and signed contracts with Visa and KB Card to begin printing S.M. artist cards.[19] Korean TV personalities Kang Ho-dong and Shin Dong-yup announced that they had signed exclusive contracts with S.M.'s broadcast sector, SM Culture & Contents (SM C&C), seen as a move by S.M. to expand into television.[20][21] In September, SM C&C merged with AM Entertainment (which represents actors such as Jang Dong-gun, Kim Ha-neul, and Han Ji-min)[22] and two other TV personalities, Lee Su-geun and Kim Byung-man, announced that they had also signed with S.M.[23] In November, KMP Holdings was acquired by KT Music, and in June 2013, KT Music absorbed KMP's distribution network.[24]

In 2013, SM C&C acquired Hoon Media (a production company led by Lee Hoon-hee, responsible for KBS serials 1 vs 100, Heroines 6, Qualifications of Men, and Music Bank) and Woollim Entertainment, a record label responsible for artists such as Infinite.[25] In January 2014, the seven talent agencies behind KMP Holdings formed a collective bond partnership and bought 13.48% of KT Music's stocks, leaving parent KT Corporation with 49.99%.[26] In February, S.M. acquired a share in Baljunso, an indie record label founded in 1991 by Kang Byung-yong.[27] On August 1, S.M. debuted Red Velvet, its first girl group since f(x) six years prior.

In August 2015, S.M. partnered with sports marketing company IB Worldwide to create Galaxia SM, responsible for golfer Park In-bee, gymnast Son Yeon-jae, and Choo Shin-soo, right fielder for the Texas Rangers.[28] On November 6, the 10th anniversary of Super Junior's debut, S.M. announced that their own sub-label, Label SJ, would be created.[29] The company also set up a series of stores selling branded foods under the name 'SUM Market'[30] and opened the restaurant SMT Seoul.[31]

In January 2016, Lee Soo-man held a conference at the SM Coex Artium, speaking about plans for a new boy group, NCT ('Neo Culture Technology'), with "unlimited members".[32][33] The first unit of this group, NCT U, released its first singles in April 2016.[34] On May 5, S.M. released the first single under their newly established EDM label ScreaM Records, "Wave", featuring f(x) members Amber and Luna and produced by Xavi & Gi and E-mart’s Electro Mart.[35][36] ScreaM Records is part of S.M.'s New Culture Technology 2016 project, under which the company has also begun the digital music channel SM Station and a number of mobile apps.[37]

Controversies[edit]

Contractual disputes[edit]

JYJ (TVXQ)[edit]

In late July 2009, three of the members of S.M. Entertainment boy group TVXQ- Kim Jaejoong, Park Yoochun, and Kim Junsu- applied to the Seoul Central District Court to investigate the validity of their contract with S.M.,[38][39] as they felt the thirteen-year contract was excessively long and that earnings were not fairly distributed to the members;[40] but leaving the group would lead to an early termination penalty of over KR₩11 billion (around US$9.2 million).[citation needed] The news of this dispute caused S.M. Entertainment's KOSPI stock price to drop by 10.06%.[41] In addition, 120,000 fans of TVXQ filed a petition against S.M.'s long-term contracts to the Seoul Central District Court, also filing for compensation for an SMTown Live Concert that was canceled a week before its scheduled date.[42]

The court ruled in the favour of the three members. In response, S.M. held a press conference claiming that the lawsuit was fraudulent, and filed an injunction.[43][44] In early May 2010, it was announced that the three members, Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu, would return to stage as JYJ under a new management agency, C-JeS Entertainment.[45] The injunction was dismissed by the Seoul Central District Court on February 17, 2011, and the final decision on the case was postponed indefinitely for mediation under the justice department.[46][47]

On November 28, 2012, during a voluntary arbitration at the Seoul Central District Court, S.M. Entertainment and JYJ reached a mutual agreement to terminate all contracts between the two parties and not to interfere with each other's activities in the future, concluding the lawsuit.[48] S.M. reportedly stated that they had decided to end the litigation "to avoid bringing additional harm to U-Know Yunho and Max Changmin, who are active as TVXQ, and to avoid making any more unneeded issues".[49][50]

Han Geng[edit]

On December 21, 2009, five months after the three TVXQ members filed their lawsuit and while the dispute was ongoing, Han Geng, the only Chinese member of Super Junior, also filed a lawsuit against S.M. for similar reasons of unfair profit distributions and having signed an unfair thirteen-year contract that contained provisions in S.M.'s favour and that he was not allowed to revise or end.[51] Han Geng's friend and current manager Sun Le also submitted a statement to Korean courts citing S.M. Entertainment's violation of Han Geng's rights, which was later leaked via the internet.[52] The statement argued that S.M. had discriminated against Han Geng financially as well as in terms of management.

On September 27, 2011, Han Geng's departure from Super Junior was made official when legal representatives of both Han Geng and S.M. released a joint statement saying that "Han Geng and S.M. Entertainment have amicably settled on a mutual agreement, and the lawsuit was able to come to a close after Han Geng submitted his 'Notice of Withdrawal of Appeal'."[53][54]

Kris Wu[edit]

On May 15, 2014, Kris Wu, a Chinese member of EXO, filed a lawsuit to terminate his contract with S.M., as first reported by Chinese news portal Sina.[55][56] He was represented by Cho Bum-suk, the same lawyer that handled Han Geng 's case. He left the group in the same month that the lawsuit was made public, while the rest of the group continued to promote its single 'Overdose'. On July 21, 2016, Kris, officially parted ways with EXO, however, the contract with SM is valid until 2022.[57]

Jessica Jung[edit]

On September 29, 2014, Girls' Generation member Jessica claimed on a Weibo post that she had been forced out of the group, writing:

I was excited about our upcoming fan events only to shockingly be informed by my company and 8 others that as of today, I'm no longer a member. I'm devastated - my priority and love is to serve as a member of GG, but for no justifiable reason, I am being forced out.[58]

The following day, Jessica released a statement claiming that while in August 2014 her company and fellow members had been positive about the launch of her fashion business, Blanc and Eclare, as of early September, they had changed their stance, and she was directed to either close the business or cease promotions as a member of Girls' Generation. She claimed to have received the day before a "one-sided notice" asking her to leave the group.[citation needed]

However, according to S.M., Jessica had informed management in the early spring that she would leave the group after one more album, but before agreements could be made she had set up her independent business, which caused problems for the group's schedules. This prompted management to begin promoting Girls' Generation as eight members rather than nine, with the intention to announce the news; however, Jessica had already "posted her own perspective". The company then stated that the group would henceforth continue as eight, while they would still manage Jessica's individual schedule.[59] In the days immediately after this news came to light, company stocks dropped by KR₩3,350 per share, from KR₩40,750 to KR₩37,400, losing S.M. a total of KR₩69 billion (approximately US$65 million).[citation needed]

On August 6, 2015, Jessica and S.M. Entertainment reached an agreement to terminate her contract, with Jessica stating "This release is to confirm that S.M. Entertainment and I have officially parted ways. I will cherish the many years we spent and I wish S.M. the best of luck in all of its endeavors."[citation needed]

Lu Han[edit]

On October 10, 2014, Lu Han was the second Chinese member of EXO to file to nullify his contract with S.M. Entertainment and leave the group, just over four months after Kris.[60][61][62] His lawsuit included the claim that S.M. had favoured Korean division EXO-K over Chinese division EXO-M. Within 15 minutes of the announcement, company stocks had dropped by 9.41%, from KR₩37,000 to KR₩33,250 per share.[citation needed] The stock's worth contracted by 15%, hitting the maximum decrease in price KOSDAQ allows for a day, and falling to a more-than-one-year low.[63] On July 21, 2016, Lu Han, officially parted ways with EXO, however, the contract with SM is valid until 2022.[57]

No Min-woo[edit]

In April 2015, No Min-woo, a former member of TRAX, filed a lawsuit against S.M. for subjecting him to an unlawful seventeen-year contract.[64] No alleged that S.M. had also interfered with his career after he had left the company and sought KR₩100 million in damages.[citation needed] Noh Min-woo lost lawsuit against SM Entertainment in July 21, 2016.[65]

Tao[edit]

On August 24, 2015, Tao was the third Chinese member of EXO to file against S.M. and leave the group, being represented by the same legal team that represented former members Kris and Lu Han. On the 5th of January 2016, SM entertainment won one of their counter-lawsuits against Tao following the ruling of the Intermediate People's Court in the Qingdao, Shandong, in China.The agency sued Tao over his failure to repay the company after his departure. They released an official statement saying "SM has ongoing lawsuits against Exo members Wu Yifan (Kris), Luhan, and Tao for violating their exclusive contracts and partaking in illegal promotions in China. Among these lawsuits, SM filed a lawsuit against Tao for failing to repay SM on October 13, 2015. An intermediate court in Qingdao, China made the verdict that Tao is to repay SM Entertainment as well as interest for the delayed payment."[66][67]

2009 MAMA Awards boycott[edit]

On November 21, 2009, S.M. Entertainment boycotted the Mnet Asian Music Awards event, claiming reservations regarding the standard of fairness and the criteria used in Mnet's selections for award recipients.[68] The company specifically cited Girls' Generation, who had topped Korean music charts for nine consecutive weeks and had won numerous awards for their newest single "Genie", but had never won on Mnet's weekly M! Countdown show, and had only appeared on their charts a month after the album release. S.M. also cited the fact that voters had to pay a fee, saying that they did "not want to see fans suffer any damage from the poll which has commercial intentions."[69]

Fair Trade Commission scrutiny[edit]

In 2010, the Korean Fair Trade Commission (FTC) undertook an investigation into S.M. Entertainment policy, especially regarding their artists' contract terms, and concluded that they were unfair. Artist contracts were subsequently reduced by a length of three years, and there was a reduction in the penalties for breach-of-contract violations. All the artists signed under S.M. at the time re-contracted with the agency under the new terms.[citation needed]

S.M. was also one of fifteen companies fined and sued by the FTC for price rigging in 2011.

In 2012, S.M. was accused of colluding with music distributors, but was cleared of the charge. On August 16 the Seoul High Court revealed their verdict on the issue: "The FTC (Fair Trade Commission) has canceled all corrective orders against SM Entertainment, and the lawsuit costs will be paid by the defendant."[70]

Red Velvet music video controversy[edit]

In August 2014, after the release of the Red Velvet's music video for "Happiness," Japanese media reported that images referencing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the 9/11 attacks, were seen in the background of the video. S.M. Entertainment responded to the reports, stating that "after questioning the director, we found that he simply used a collage source for the images, and there was no intention behind it." The representative added, "As S.M. wasn't able to catch it before, we will remove the material that caused the misunderstanding as soon as possible. We will make sure not to let this kind of thing happen in the future." S.M. later uploaded a new version of the music video without the controversial images.[71]

Artists[edit]

All artists under S.M. Entertainment are collectively known as SMTown.[72]

Musicians[edit]

Actors and actresses[edit]

Entertainers[edit]

Studio artists[edit]

Trainees[edit]

S.M Rookies[edit]

A group of S.M. Entertainment trainees have appeared in various promotional materials and activities under the name "S.M. Rookies".[74] Some former S.M. Rookies have "graduated" to form the groups Red Velvet and NCT. Official trainees under S.M. that have yet to debut include:

  • Hansol (born 1994)
  • Johnny (born 1995)
  • Kun (born 1996)
  • Koeun (born 1999)
  • Hina (born 2000)
  • Herin (born 2002)
  • Lami (born 2003)

Former artists[edit]

Former musicians[edit]

  • 1After H.O.T. disbanded in 2001, Jang Woo-hyuk, Tony An and Lee Jae-won left S.M. Entertainment to form the trio jtL. Moon Hee-jun and Kangta remained as solo artists. In 2005, Moon parted with S.M. Entertainment.
  • 2In 2003 SM Entertainment's 5-year contract with Shinhwa ended, thus allowing the band to either sign another contract or switch label. Lee Soo Man, the head of SM Entertainment, only wanted to sign on Eric Mun, Shin Hye-sung, Andy Lee, Jun Jin, and Lee Min-woo, but they rejected it. Eric as a leader and the most popular and had the most highly amount of the contract at that time made a decision that they wanted to stick together as a group with all members present as Shinhwa and not go solo. Thus, the band rejected the offer and switched over to the fairly new management at the time, Good Entertainment. The movement sparked controversy when Lee denied their permission to use the name Shinhwa with the different company. However, after the argument was taken to court, Shinhwa won, allowing them to hold the rights to use the name "Shinhwa".
  • 3M.I.LK were formed under SM Entertainment's sister label, BM Entertainment in 2001. They disbanded when Bae Yu-mi left the group in 2003. Now each member has gone off to do their own individual projects such as acting, singing, MCing, VJing, and Modeling.
  • 4After Isak N Jiyeon disbanded in 2004, Jiyeon took the stage name of Lina and became a member of The Grace, formed in 2005. Isak became a VJ and radio DJ for Arirang. She left S.M. Entertainment in 2012.
  • 5No Min-woo (as Rose) and Kang Jung-woo (as Attack) debuted as members of TRAX in 2004.
  • 6Kim Jae-joong (as Hero Jaejoong), Park Yoochun (as Micky Yoochun), and Kim Junsu (as Xiah Junsu) debuted in 2003 as members of TVXQ. In 2009, the three filed an injunction against S.M. Entertainment, subsequently leaving TVXQ. In 2010, the trio formed JYJ.
  • 7Han Geng debuted in 2005 as a member of Super Junior. He left the group in 2009 after filing for contract termination.
  • 8Jessica debuted in 2007 as a member of Girls' Generation. She left the group in September 2014 to pursue individual activities. In August 2015, it was announced that she had officially parted ways with S.M. Entertainment.
  • 9Kibum debuted in 2005 as a member of Super Junior. He temporary left the group in 2009 to pursue acting career. In August 2015, it was announced that he had officially parted ways with S.M. Entertainment.
  • 10Stephanie debuted in 2005 as a member of The Grace. In May 2016, it was announced that she had officially parted ways with S.M. Entertainment.

Former trainees[edit]

Discography[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Partnership[edit]

As of June 2014:

Distributing labels[edit]

References[edit]

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