Category Archives: B.A.P

K-fans, i-fans, and boycotts

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I was noticing tonight that this post is getting a lot of attention from BAP fans, who apparently are being asked to help out with some kind of boycott by K-fans.

The short version: Don’t just automatically do whatever K-fans tell you to. Do some research into the claims being made, and if the arguments presented to you do or don’t add up, have confidence in your judgement.

The long version: I don’t know what’s going on with BAP right now–I don’t follow K-Pop groups other than Block B closely because I don’t have the time. So I can’t give advice specific to this situation.

But I am going to say that, while there have been cases where it made total and complete sense for fans to boycott something, and K-fans were merely alerting i-fans to a genuine issue, there have also been cases like…well, like last fall’s Block B boycott.

What actually happened was K-BBCs started to feel neglected (Block B was promoting in Japan a lot, but this was also right after the news of Zico and Seolhyun dating came out–draw your own conclusions there about how “chill” BBCs actually are), so they boycotted a DVD.

Now, I thought that was pretty childish, but whatever, right? It’s kind of douchey, but K-BCCs have been getting more activities in Korea post-boycott, so–they got what they wanted, however they did it.

Where things got really questionable in my book was when some of the English-speaking K-BBCs decided to recruit i-BBCs into this boycott.

Since BBCs do believe themselves to be a chill fandom, “Zico is dating–boycott Block B!” wasn’t going to fly. There was some traction for the “Block B is spending too much time in Japan, which is unfair to Korea” idea (J-BBCs were never targeted for recruitment, of course).

The main thing that got lots of play among i-fans, however, was this idea that Block B was being horribly mismanaged. Like BAP, Block B has in fact been horribly mismanaged in the past, so i-fans were quite receptive to the idea that it was happening again.

But gee, Block B is doing really well now, right? And they were doing really well last fall, too!

How to sell this idea that they’re being horribly mismanaged?

That’s easy! LIE.

Lie about how well things were managed in the past. Lie about how members have been treated. Lie about why things happened. When you’re not lying, edit: Keep the rampant anti-Japanese sentiments out of the material created for an English-speaking audience, and make up an English hashtag that asks for feedback, please, while the Korean hashtag tells the label you hate them!

The Block B boycott got so much traction among i-fans that it even got stories in the English-speaking K-Pop press–something that did not happen in Korea. I should note that there’s a real tendency to copy/paste any and all allegations that make their way into English without stopping to figure out if they are true or not. And once they’re in English, they’re also much more likely to get translated into still-other languages because so many people are English-bilingual.

So, yeah. I’m certainly not trying to suggest that K-fans are always lying or always attempting to manipulate i-fans for their own purposes (I hope to God that’s not true, anyway). But you should be aware that it does happen. If this BAP boycott makes zero sense to you, don’t just assume that the K-fans know better and that you should follow along.

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The idols and the underground: You call that hip-hop?

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One of the things that can be confusing or off-putting about K-Pop for Americans is that people will point to something that, to an American, is clearly not hip-hop music, and say, “That’s hip-hop.”

No.

Part of the reason this happens is that idol groups are geared toward a younger audience while underground hip-hop is not, so saying a group is hip-hop can be a way of saying that they’re cooler and more sophisticated, and that, by extension, you as a fan have good taste and don’t just like them because you’re 12 and hormonal. People trying to make their idol group seem cool are typically also the people who, when it is pointed out that something is not actually hip-hop music, will insist that it is KOREAN hip-hop music. (No, it’s not.)

Because no 12-year-old is complete without a 15-year-old older sibling constantly berating them, the reverse happens as well: Sometimes a song sure sounds like hip-hop music, but certain people will insist that it isn’t really hip-hop–it just sounds that way. (The way music sounds sure can be misleading, can’t it? Confuses me all the time. Almost as much as the way paintings look.)

In addition, some of the time people know damned well that something isn’t hip-hop music–they don’t have a chip on their shoulder, they’re not ignorant, they’re not crazy, and they know it’s not actually hip-hop music. But they call it hip-hop anyway, for reasons I’ll get to in a minute.

What gives? Well, there’s a couple of terms in K-Pop that are helpful to know when trying to sort out what the fuck people are thinking when they say something that doesn’t sound like hip-hop music is, or that something that does sound like hip-hop music is not.

Term 1: Hip-hop concept

What is a “concept”? In K-Popspeak, a concept is basically a theme. Remember that K-Pop music is rarely released in a vacuum: Typically when a K-Pop group releases a title single, it comes with a video and elaborate choreography, complete with costumes, that is performed on TV shows.

It makes sense for all those things to have a common theme, right? This is the concept.

A concept can be something like the pirate theme of “Nallili Mambo,” or it can be musical in nature. For example, IU did a swing concept for her song “Red Shoes.”

The song is swing-y, the costumes are vintage-y, the choreography is Charleston-y–viola! A swing concept.

No one’s pretending that this is strictly historically accurate swing music or that IU is a hard-core swing artist–it’s just a concept.

In the States, we’re accustomed to performers periodically getting really inspired by a particular period or place, so it makes sense to us that someone might do music from another country or time period for one album, and then move on and not do it again.

But U.S. artists don’t usually do that with contemporary American genres like hip-hop. (It does happen–Ray Charles’ country album is a well-know exception–but it’s not common because it’s seen to interfere with a performer’s branding.)

In K-Pop, though:

Now, nobody thinks that 4Minute is a hip-hop group–they’re not. But they did a hip-hop concept song. They wore chains, they braided their hair, and the music’s a little more hip-hop than their usual thing. Their next concept may be completely different, and no one’s really going to care–no one’s going to feel like 4Minute has lost their identity as a hip-hop group or anything, because they never really were one to begin with, and everyone knows it.

You also get hip-hop concept groups, like GOT7 up there. Do they actually perform hip-hop? No. Do they feel a deep connection to the genre? No. But because they are a hip-hop concept group, they wear basketball jerseys and whatnot. They’re also very much a kid-friendly idol group, so what GOT7 does is unapologetic Hip-Hop Lite, geared to younger listeners and their (overprotective) parents.

So, what about groups that do feel a deep connection to the genre? That’s where you get the “hip-hop idol” category, which is where most people would put a group like BTS or Block B. They’re more of a hybrid between the idol model and the underground scene, so they tend to be a little more edgy and a little less kid-friendly: Some of their songs and videos are 19+, they curse on camera, and they have members who feel a very strong connection to hip-hop music–it’s not just about the clothes for them.

How can you tell if a group is just doing a hip-hop concept, or if they are really hip-hop idols? Hell if I know! I just listen to what I like and don’t listen to what I don’t like–honestly, I don’t have much tolerance for these kinds of debates, especially because they tend to really be about whether or not you think a group is cool.

What I do find interesting in all this is BAP. When they started out they did this rap/rock thing, then they got moved away from that, and people said, “Oh, it was just a hip-hop concept, and now they’re moving on.” But then they sued their label, and now they’re back doing music that sounds a lot like their original rap/rock sound. So I don’t think it really was just a concept for them–I think it was the kind of music they wanted to do. (Which makes them . . . hip-hop/rock idols? Honestly, I have no idea.)

Term 2: Idol rappers

An idol rapper is a rapper with an idol group. Period. It doesn’t mean they’re bad; it doesn’t mean they’re good. It just means that they’re with an idol group.

MNet, home of the Korean rap competition shows Show Me the Money and Unpretty Rapstar, loves to make a HUUUUGE deal out of the idol rapper thing. It’s boring, and I’m hoping that with failure of the second season of Unpretty Rapstar they will realize that the money they get paid from the labels to promote random idol rappers doesn’t make up for the opportunity cost of putting out a ton of flop songs.

But MNet is right about one thing: Idol rappers as a group are viewed as inferior to underground rappers as a group–and as a generalization, I’d say that’s true.

Why is this?

Typically a K-Pop label assembles an idol group from trainees. Those who can sing, become the singers. Those who can’t sing, become the rappers. You can get decent rappers this way–Bobby from Ikon won the third season of Show Me the Money. But in general, you get as idol rappers people who aren’t particularly interested in rap and who haven’t been rapping very long–hardly a recipe for quality.

The thing is, it’s not really important to a lot of these groups that the rappers be great. For example, I’ve read criticism of Baro of B1A4 made by people who certainly seem extremely knowledgable about rap, but my feeling is, Baro is perfect for that group’s music. Why the hell would you want a speed rapper jumping in and fucking up the smooth funk groove when you can have Barry White telling you to take off your panties?

Eminen would not improve this song.

So, why are underground rappers in general better? Korean hip-hop performances are much more pared down than idol group performances, and they are really, really focused on the rapping.

“Eureka,” underground style

“Eureka,” idol style

At the Show Me the Money concert I went to (as well as every fan cam of Korean hip-hop concerts I’ve ever seen), the performers sometimes danced around, there were colored lights, and someone took of his shirt (thank God!), but that was about it: There was no choreography, and the music wasn’t even that loud. Rapping was the star of the show.

Bad or even just mediocre rapping can’t hide in the underground hip-hop environment, so yeah, as a group underground rappers are better–they have to be, because rap is pretty much the only thing they’re being graded on. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all underground rappers are good, or that a given individual underground rapper is necessarily better than a given individual idol rapper, or that someone is a top-quality rapper just because they were an underground rapper before they joined an idol group. The underground thing can get a little fetish-y (and more than a little hipster-y) as well.

“Pulling a Block B”: A not-so-simple answer to a set of problems that people may not actually have

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We were chatting about how “pulling a Block B” has become this kind of a knee-jerk response by K-Pop fans to any problem, be it real or or imagined, that any entertainer has with any label.

It’s notable that people talk about “pulling a Block B,” not “pulling a JYJ,” or “pulling a Dok2,” or “pulling a Jay Park,” or “pulling a Kris,” or “pulling a Luhan,” or “pulling a B.A.P,” even though every single one of those seems pretty happy to have pulled what they pulled.

I think there’s a sentimental appeal to what Block B did, even if you don’t like the group: They stayed together. It keeps things simple, at least to us outsiders who have absolutely no idea what things were or are like on the inside. You don’t have this complicated situation where someone leaves, and everyone calls him a traitor, and later one of the people who did that regrets it and cries, and it’s all really awkward. Instead The Good Guys all stick together and are rewarded with fame and fortune. Hooray!

The popularity of “pulling a Block B” nowadays is pretty ironic, because back when Block B was in the midst of pulling what turned out to be a Block B, most observers had no expectation that they could actually succeed. I thought they could (hence BlockB.com), but it wasn’t because I liked them–it’s because I thought that going independent could work for them. But while most people seem to realize that to “pull a Kris” or “pull a Luhan” you need some very specific things (like a fan base in China), they don’t seem to realize that “pulling a Block B” also has its special requirements.

What made it possible for Block B to “pull a Block B,” and why is “pulling a Block B” something that is not possible or even desirable for everyone?

1. Block B was already successful.

I cannot emphasize enough how important this is: By 2013, Block B was not a no-name group. “Nalina” remains the group’s best-selling single in Korea, and Blockbuster had 10 charted songs.

Why does that matter? Keeping a seven-person group alive is much more expensive than keeping a soloist going. Handily enough, an article appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal about the demise of the American hip-hop crew and the rise of the soloist. Have a germane quote!

“It’s more money in the solo play,” Ice Cube says. “The royalties don’t go up for how many members you have in the group.”

If you don’t already have a proven track record of music sales, then forget it–nobody’s going to take on seven or nine or thirteen people, especially not if they can cherry-pick the popular ones.

If you do have such a track record, though, then all of a sudden you’re very attractive. It’s not easy to create hits, so if you can, people will typically accommodate you (and your many fellow members).

Why did TS Entertainment come crawling back to B.A.P? Because they couldn’t replicate the group’s success–it was too hard. (And gee, I guess that means B.A.P was making money after all.) The notion that K-Pop “factories” can reliably churn out hit music is not nearly as solid as its proponents would have you believe. Making hits is a very tricky and unpredictable business, and the easiest way to do it is to find someone who has already had a few.

That means that if you already are a hit talent, you are in a position of power. That’s why SM Entertainment couldn’t tank JYJ despite their best efforts.

2. Block B was not getting much from their label.

Obviously not every last person at Block B’s old label was useless, but whenever the group talks about their success, the story goes: Once they let us do whatever we wanted, we did “Nalina.”

Keep in mind that Zico paid for classes himself so that he could produce Blockbuster himself. Under the circumstances I’m not the least bit shocked that he doesn’t feel he owes the group’s success to anybody else, or that he and the other group members came to resent watching all the money their music made go to other people.

Furthermore, once Block B sued, it was obvious that a reconciliation would not be possible. It wan’t just that they were wronged: The response of the label was completely irrational.

Obviously once things get to the point of lawsuits, relations have largely broken down–but while sometimes that breakdown is irreparable, other times it is not. For example, I would assume that B.A.P actually liked many things about working for TS (the group certainly had good dances and videos), even though they obviously also had a lot to dislike. If TS bumped up the pluses of working for them and toned down the minuses, it certainly would make sense for B.A.P to return, as they did, instead of “pulling a Block B” and going out on their own. Yes, it’s a little less satisfying to fans (The Good Guys are going back to The Bad Guys! Oh no!), but obviously the B.A.P/TS combination worked before, so it’s reasonable to try to make it work again.

Where the “pulling a Block B” notion gets positively comical is when people are talking about someone who is at a label that is treating them just dandy. I mean, come on, no one at YG is going to “pull a Block B”–if you want, YG will give you a label of your very own just to make you happy.

One final thing.

When Block B “pulled a Block B,” do you know who they didn’t go to for help? Other musicians.

Before Jay Park “pulled a Jay Park,” he went to Illionaire Records and asked for help. Do you know what his fellow musicians said to him? No.

Is this because musicians are horrible people? No. It’s because musicians are not managers. They’re not going to focus on someone else’s career because that is a full-time job, and they already have a job. Someone who needs a manager or needs a label or needs a PR firm or needs a distributor or needs a booking agency or needs oh-so-many things is not going to find that in another musician.

Uuuuggh!

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If you want to get seriously squicked out, here’s a really disturbing photograph of the B.A.P member who was yanked out of the ER and forced to perform with his IV wound barely bandaged. Jesus!

I know that the post I did about B.A.P was all focused on the money. I did that because that’s what I know and that’s what people seemed confused about, but of course there was a very real human cost as well. Seriously, any time someone tries to cut you off from your friends and family–in other words, everyone who cares about you and who will attempt to protect your interests–that is never a good sign.

Another lesson: There is no bottom to what people are willing to do to exploit talent, and that is true is any industry. Don’t operate on blind trust–you can see from that picture what that will get you.

Revenues, expenses, earnings, and B.A.P

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Since B.A.P is really, REALY pissed, there have been a lot of details released about the reasoning behind their lawsuit. Fans have been doing a lot of translating, which is great. But what people are running into are the classic problems that come with translating specialized jargon: What does the Korean business jargon actually mean? Does it correlate exactly with the English business jargon? What is the correct English business jargon to use in this situation?

I know jack squat about Problems #1 and #2, but since I used to be a business reporter, I know a hell of a lot about Problem #3 (at least when it comes to American English).

You will be excited to learn that common, everyday phrases like “making money” or “I earned $50,000 last year” mean absolutely nothing in the business world!

THE IMPORTANT WORDS

Revenues (also called sales). Revenues means money in. Period. The money comes in, and that’s the end of the story as far as revenues are concerned. “I earned $50,000 last year”? If you’re talking about your annual salary before taxes, you’re not talking about your earnings. You’re talking about your revenues.

Revenues are great, but after the money comes in, you have to spend it on stuff. If you’re a person, you have to pay for food and housing. If you’re a K-Pop label, you have to pay for CD production and videos. Those are all called….

Expenses. Expenses means money out.

Do you have more money going out than you have coming in? Uh-oh! You are experiencing losses.

Do you have more money coming in than going out? Yippee! You have profits!

Are there catchall terms for profits or losses? Yes! Earnings or income.

That is very confusing for people because typically when they think of the money they earn, they’re thinking of revenues. But if you read in the Wall Street Journal that Company X earned $50 million last year, that means that is the company’s profit. If they earned -$50 million last year, that is their loss. Their revenues are some other number.

What does it mean to “make money”? TOTALLY DEPENDS! A person could just mean that they’re being paid, or they could mean that they’re turning a profit–if it matters to you for some reason, ask for clarification.

Normally, having big profits is considered a good thing. But not always. For instance, in the United States we have a federal tax on people’s personal incomes that gets higher the bigger that income is. So, someone might claim to have a really big income when trying to impress a date, and then turn right around and claim to have a really small income when paying taxes. To prevent rip-offs, the federal government has a whole bevy of rules regarding what you can claim as an expense when calculating your income for the purpose of paying taxes. (Dates, alas, have no such protection.)

Likewise, companies like to claim that they have a big income when they are trying to raise money from investors. But they will claim to have a small income when paying their taxes or calculating things like how much to pay their talent.

So, from a money perspective, what is B.A.P accusing their label, TS Entertainment, of doing?

One thing to remember with music contracts is that oftentimes the revenue or profit split between an artist and a label varies depending upon the activity. For example, according to B.A.P, their contract states that they get only 10% of the profits from merchandise sales, but 50% of the profits from performances.

What B.A.P is claiming is that TS undertook a systematic campaign to understate those profits from activities where B.A.P was supposed to get a bigger share. (Shifting reported revenues from a category where the artist gets a bigger share to a category where they get a smaller one is pretty much what Universal did to Eminem.)

From Nicole of It’s B.A.P’s translation of a Dispatch article. [Brackets mine.]:

Q3.What are the conditions of the contract between B.A.P and their company?

D. According to the contract ‘Dispatch’ has received, the division of profits was very big. Firstly, album earnings were divided 1 (B.A.P):9 (company). They were given 10% from characters and merchandise sales.

Q4. 10% of sales? Or 10% of profits?

D. Whatever was left over from the expenses of merchandise. Basically, 10% of net profit. For example, B.A.P sells the ‘Matoki’ dolls. If we say the net profit for a 20,000 won($20) doll was 6,000 won($6), B.A.P would get 10% of the net profit so they would receive 600 won(.60 cents). And you would further divide that ⅙. So each member would be getting 100 won(.10 cents).

Q5. Do the 1:9 contracts still exist nowadays?

D. It is possible. B.A.P has agreed on the profit tariff. But, starting from the third album the division has been raised to be 2:8 [i.e 20% to B.A.P]. B.A.P has released 11 albums so far. But they only have one official album. Basically, B.A.P still receives 10% of album profits.

So, first off, B.A.P is saying that TS claimed the group had only released one “official” album in spite of the group actually releasing 11 albums. Why? Because under the contract, B.A.P’s share of the profits from album sales would increase to 20% from 10% after the third album.

But this is pretty minor, they say, compared to what the company was doing with performance profits.

Q4. B.A.P is more famous overseas. What are the profits for oversea performances?

D. The profit division for concerts, events, and performances are 5:5 [i.e. 50% to B.A.P]. It is a higher division than album divisions. Commercial performance fees, magazine sales etc are also divided by half. However, we have no way of knowing if these sales have been properly calculated and recorded. B.A.P’s side argued that the profits from overseas performances were a trick.

Q5. What kind of tricks are present in oversea performance calculations?

D. The guarantee for oversea performances are definite profits. However, the company has recorded these profits as expenses. According to the statement that ‘Dispatch’ received, 1.2 billion won($1.2 million) payment for a Japanese performance was recorded as an expense. 140 million won($140,000) for magazine contract fees was also recorded as an expense[. . . .]

Q12. What is B.A.P questioning the most?

D. The 5:5 division of the performance profits. B.A.P is arguing that the japanese performance and CJ performance profits were not recorded properly. Firstly, a portion of the Japanese performance profits were recorded as an expense. CJ performance fees were different from what they had verified scale.

Even if they do believe in the company’s entire statement 100%, it is outside of common sense. If they gave up on the Japan performance profits and received the 5:5 division from the CJ performances…each member would have received at least 100 million won($100,000). No matter how you look at it, it is not understandable and doesn’t make sense as to how “it’s only $17,900”.

So, B.A.P is saying that TS booked revenues as expenses. Elsewhere in the article, they say that the company reported bogus expenses as well. All this was done in order to minimize reported profits in the “concert, events, and performances” category. Why? Because B.A.P. was supposed to get 50% of those profits.

In the article, B.A.P explicitly calls out TS’s $600,000 reported profit as bullshit, saying that profits from the CJ performances alone were more like $1.2 million. The group is saying that these accounting shenanigans were so extreme that TS was able to magically report that modest $600,000 profit (which triggered an even more modest payment to the group members) once their parents got a lawyer.

So what does this all mean for B.A.P’s lawsuit? The problem as far as I can see for B.A.P is that they went ahead and signed a really terrible contract. For all I know, the contract says, “TS Entertainment doesn’t have to follow generally accepted accounting principles and can do whatever they want when determining how to pay group members”–given some of the other provisions reportedly in that contract, I wouldn’t be surprised. In the United States, judges tend not to enforce contracts that are actually illegal, but first they have to decide that the contract is in fact illegal and not just really, really bad. A really, really bad contract is another thing altogether–judges are perfectly capable of telling you that it’s your fault for signing such a shitty contract in the first place.

Of course, Block B lost their lawsuit, and everything worked out for them. Again, I don’t think B.A.P is going to be at a loss for potential corporate partners–it’s just going to boil down to how expensive it’s going to be for them to part ways with TS.

Where this is going to get really exciting is if the label wasn’t just fooling around with its accounting to screw B.A.P–it would be interesting to see what their tax returns have been like the past few years.

Viva the glorious people’s revolution!

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B.A.P is suing! B.A.P is suing! Yes! It’s Christmas in November at my house!

Why would they sue? As suspected, they are getting MAJORLY SCREWED. Look at that revenue split: $9 million for the company, $96,000 for the group as a whole–over three years. That’s a whopping 1.07% of the total, and it means that each year, each member made an average of $5,333!! It’s all in the accounting, baby!

You know, nothing makes me happier than when a bunch of apparently quiet, obedient, and complacent dudes turn out to have balls of brass. Go get ’em, B.A.P!

ETA: I know there’s some enthusiasm out there for B.A.P going to Seven Seasons, but given Seven Seasons’ size and origins, I wouldn’t say that’s terribly likely (although I definitely would like to see B.A.P wind up with a Seven Seasons-like management company). Whatever happens, I don’t think B.A.P will be hurting for suitors–as was the case with Block B, the hard work of taking the group from complete obscurity to money-making success has already been done.

Trying to crack the B.A.P nut

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I stopped paying attention to B.A.P’s music after they went hard after a pop sound, but I kept noticing stuff floating around indicating All Is Not Well with the group. A lot of it was the kind of concerned fangirling I find easy to ignore, but then there was a very negative blind item a while back that everyone seemed to think referred to B.A.P (which is never a good sign).

And now they just canceled an entire Latin American tour a week before it was supposed to happen. (Holy snot! Oy, that’s bad–my sympathies to the fans, wow.)

Whenever that kind of stuff has come up about B.A.P, people have speculated that perhaps they aren’t doing well financially. Obviously, I can’t know for a fact how well they are doing financially, but it’s actually not that hard to figure out how well a group should be doing financially.

Let’s start with the basics: Album sales. Our baseline will be Block B, since they seem to be doing well enough these days, and because unlike some groups they don’t make the majority of their money from endorsements.

The lovely K-pop Sales blog compiles Gaon sales into easy-to-read English tables, so let’s see how B.A.P is doing in Korea!

For the first nine months of the year:

  • B.A.P sold 138,826 albums
  • Block B sold 123,451 albums

Looks like B.A.P is doing pretty well! They are the eighth biggest-selling male group in Korea, and if you throw the girl groups into the mix, they get bumped down only to number nine.

And they edged out Block B. But of course Block B typically sells well abroad–what if B.A.P sells only in Korea?

Luckily, K-pop Sales also compiles K-Pop sales in Japan! For the first nine months of the year:

  • BAP: 103,417 albums
  • Block B: Not on the list

Nope! Block B is not in the top 20 of K-Pop acts in Japan, which means that they sold fewer than 64,310 albums there. B.A.P is beating them handily in the Japanese market!

Which means that B.A.P is definitely not a group that does well only in Korea. They’re doing just dandy in Japan; they’ve won numerous awards in Europe (even more than Block B), suggesting a solid fan base there; and they’ve sold out a number of concerts in the U.S. (Block B did not sell out a one–of course, B.A.P charged less for tickets.)

The fact remains: If Block B is doing fine, one should expect B.A.P to be doing even better.

What some people have pulled out as a reason they may not be is that, since B.A.P tours a lot, they are losing money because touring is a money-losing proposition. That’s kind of an odd argument to me, because for U.S. acts, touring is often a major (and sometimes only) source of revenue.

The other thing is that B.A.P has done many tours. If they’ve been losing money on each tour, that would suggest that their label needs to 1. manage their tours differently, 2. stop having them tour, or 3. limit their tours to a market that is inexpensive to reach and lucrative, namely Japan. Business isn’t rocket science: If you lose $1,000 on something the first time you do it, you’ll be losing a total of $100,000 the hundreth time you do it if you don’t switch things up.

Which brings us to the X factor–what (the hell) is their label doing?

That, I think is the important question. B.A.P should be doing OK. They should. So far in 2014, they are the ninth best-selling group in Korea and the seventh best-selling K-Pop group in Japan. That should be good news!

If they aren’t doing well financially, then I think you have to look to the label for an explanation–does it have a lot of debt? is it spending tons of money on God-knows-what? Because B.A.P ought to be doing fine–the sales are there, and the audience is there. If the money isn’t there, it’s presumably not because of something the group is doing–something else is going on.