In keeping with my quest to increase business-savvy among K-Poppers, I shall move on from business models to management. What is THAT?
Is management a manager? No, especially not in K-Pop. Oftentimes they’ll call some driver or security goon a “manager,” which is a bit like calling them “regulators” because they’re gonna regulate your ass if you don’t toe the line!
Management is basically running a business in a way that helps the business to reach its goals. Management is one of those things that, if it’s done well, you really don’t see it. It’s kind of like government or your parents’ finances–if it’s good, everything just kind of happens the way it’s supposed to.
If it’s bad, you sure as hell notice, though. This is why there’s all this focus on what Seven Seasons/KQ Entertainment doesn’t do well (updating their Web site, social media) and very little awareness of what they do do well (everything else).
So, let’s do a little scenario called You’re Good Management! Specifically, you are going to provide good management to U-Kwon for his stint on Hit the Stage.
The first thing you have to worry about is actually booking U-Kwon onto the show. You find out about the show either through the grapevine or because the show contacted you, and it occurs to you that U-Kwon would be a good fit. You make sure that the show is interested in U-Kwon, and that U-Kwon is interested in the show.
You hammer out the details of U-Kwon’s appearance with the show: Four appearances, no eliminations. You make sure that his schedule works for the show’s demands. You sign a contract with the show that doesn’t contain any sneaky clauses that will allow them to cut U-Kwon, or allow them to not pay him, or allow them to own a 10% share of any and all of his future earnings, or allow them to forbid him from ever appearing on a non-Mnet show.
Possibly before you hammer out the details with the show, and most certainly afterwards, you have a little sit-down with U-Kwon in which the two of you discuss what this appearance could mean for his career. You make sure that he is on board with the notion that this could be a very big deal for him, and the two of you agree that he is going to go all out with these dance numbers: He’s going to make a big splash.
Of course, he can’t do that all by himself–he’s going to need a lot of help. Organizing the choreographers, the dancers, the makeup people, the costumes, and (I’ll hazard) a lighting expert is also your responsibility. You not only need to make sure that, say, B.B. Trippin’ knows what is expected of them, but you also have to budget. How many dancers, dancing how many hours, in what kind of rehearsal facility? How many costumes, at the cost of how much per costume? All that stuff is going to cost money–quite a bit of money–and while you want to go big, you don’t want to go broke.
You’ll have to run U-Kwon around from place to place to get ready, of course, so you’re going to need some “managers” to do that–better line them up, too.
Oh, and while you’re organizing all that, Hit the Stage needs to know what music U-Kwon is using, otherwise they won’t have the rights to play the song on-air. Don’t forget that, or he’s fucked!
OK, so you know all those people you’re lining up to help U-Kwon make a splash? They need to get paid. They’re not going to wait until after U-Kwon gets his Hit the Stage check (which is actually going to come to you, so don’t lose it, OK?): They have to pay rent and eat meals, so they need to get paid now. In addition to budgeting for all that, you need to actually cut the contract workers checks. Those checks cannot bounce.
That means you need to be the kind of company that doesn’t misplace hundreds of thousands of dollars. You need to be able to get your hands on cash when you need it.
That can be a challenge, because with most businesses, money doesn’t come in and go out in perfect synchronicity. Since you are good management, you’ve already set up a line of credit or the like so that you can always cut a check that won’t bounce when you need to. And that’s a good thing, because while all this is going on with U-Kwon, you still need to pay your company’s rent and everyone’s taxes and all that–drop the ball on any of those things because you’re busy with this Hit the Stage business, and you’re screwed.
All right, so the show is at hand! You can relax, right?
Oh, fuck no–now’s when you have to start pushing levers on the PR machine. U-Kwon needs to be available for publicity appearances, and everyone has to know that he’s available if this thing takes off.
It does (yay!) and now you have to run U-Kwon around to various publicity events. That means the “managers” still need to get organized and paid, as do hair dressers, makeup artists, and stylists.
You also have to get right back to work on his next dance number, and the one after that, and the one after that.
You’re good, though, so you’re able to run down a member of a hot girl group for the next number, increasing interest in U-Kwon still more:
And since you’re so good, you realize that Hit the Stage could also be used to appeal to the Japanese market as well as the Korean. You’re already well connected there, so you talk to King Records, and they get you Rie Hata, who is rather conveniently well-known in both countries. (God, you’re good!)
U-Kwon wins the episode and gets a ton of press coverage!
And then your YouTube channel gets hacked, and people shit all over you and accuse you of not doing any work for U-Kwon.
Yup! Management is one of the most thankless jobs ever created! That is the sad truth–you get no credit when things go well (“U-Kwon is so talented! Of course he’s successful!”) and people tear you limb from limb when things go badly (and sometimes even when they go well).
Let’s put it this way: I managed a theater show once, and I will never do that again!