Translating the earlier piece I tweeted because I think the points are spot on and really sheds light on the situation in China for those who don’t know, and people requested it! I’m only translating, so giving me feedback is pointless (unless it’s about a spelling or grammatical error or an error in a technical term).
1 - Why is it “contract termination” and not “contract revision”
How you file the lawsuit affects the end results. From several past examples, in Korea, by filing “contract nullification” will increase the processing time. But Sina (without a doubt the only press with all the information for this case - to be discussed later), in all 7 articles, they used the term “contract nullification”. In the interview with the lawyer handling this case, he also confirmed that it was for contract nullification.
2 - Why do you say there’s a 3rd party in China manipulating the media right now?
First I can confirm that this party is an experienced agency in China. Whether it’s Kris’ new company, everyone can wait and see. Right now they’re at the depths of the ocean, but it won’t be long before they come to the surface.
Let me fill you guys in. a press release is something written up by an agency’s public relations department. They write the piece, then send it to the media they need. The media don’t need to write up interviews, they can just release the piece. This is the most common way of promoting an artist and controlling public discussion.
For large Chinese internet media, the first wave of releases is in the morning before 9:30AM. These releases are usually sent to the media inbox the day before or even further back, or it’s a big headline that’s had a lot of planning. For example, celebrities breaking news about a new release will fight for this timeslot.
The first report on Kris’ contract termination was on May 15th at 9:32AM. It was right on time, and within 20 minutes, the second report introducing Kris came out. If this was news they only just received, they absolutely cannot write and release a follow-up in 20 minutes. The only possibility is that these were both sent to the media in advance, and were waiting to be released.
What’s even more interesting is that after the initial news about Kris filing the lawsuit, SM denied it and Seoul court said they never received it. Until 11:30, Seoul court got the lawsuit and notified the press. Following that, another piece on the details of the lawsuit were released by Sina. So, how did Sina know about the lawsuit 2 hours before the court did?
The answer is obvious, this 3rd party acted before they spoke. On one side, the fought for the release of the news, on the other side their team of lawyers completed the lawsuit in Korea, with both at the same time, they caught SM completely off-guard.
Whether it be media promotion, or the artist, or the follow-up for the situation, it was all messed up. That’s the goal - to make it so that SM cannot properly retaliate. I have to say, as a contract termination plan, their attack was was solid, to the point, and strong.
3 - Why choose this time, just at the start of promotions and 8 days before the concert?
Many people think either by coincidence he hit his breaking point right at this time, or that his new company is forcing him to pick up the pace and leave SM. Actually, all of these sentiments are inaccurate.
This time, is chosen with a goal and plan in mind, for a perfect attack. It’s something that can only be done by a professional team who is not doing this for the first time.
Let me give you an example.
In 2007, a popular celebrity terminated his contract with his company and caused major discussion. The reason being, he chose to disappear right before the official broadcast of the TV station’s most important live show. This large Chinese TV station was left with an open slot just before the life broadcast. You must know, to rehearse for a large-scale show takes months of preparation, light, equipment, music, direction set-up; everything is a controlled process. To re-do everything at the very last minute, is harder than walking in the sky. But that celebrity refused to attend, and afterwards, his new agency stepped in and took control of all his entertainment contracts. But for the lawsuit to finally end, it took 5 years.
I don’t have a side in this, I’m just raising a precedent. Many people said the way this celebrity left was thoughtless, but they’re wrong. It’s a step orchestrated by his new agency. That is - at the most important moment, the moment to get the most attention, he filed for termination, and caught his old agency completely off-guard, garnered public discussion immediately and people who never paid attention to him before are suddenly paying attention to him now. The bigger the splash the contract termination makes, the more publicity for the artist, even into the future.
4 - How is internet discussion controlled?
First I have to say this - if you really think discussion on the internet is started by fans, you are too, too stupid.
I’ll continue to use examples.
When a movie is about to premier, it will employ teams to do internet promotion. Several months in advance, this people already have necessary ID’s on sites including Weibo, Douban, Tianya, Tencent, Mtime, and Baidu. There are people whose job is to comment, people whose job is to write releases, people whose job is to give ratings, people whose job is to protect their movie and throw shade on other movies with similar release time. The real high-level teams, won’t let you notice. The “public” you see on Chinese sites, that’s what it really is. Sometimes you might feel: why is it that I thought this movie was horrible, but internet reviews are great?
In the end, some people choose to keep their silence, and some people who are less set on their opinions are slowly brainwashed.
Nowadays, there is something called “self-press”, the most obvious being Weibo. You can give an opinion, and not appear to be controlled. Early on, it was only people trained to do this, people with V’s next to their name. Very soon, marketing teams realized how they could profit from this, as the retweets gave what they wanted to promote more than enough attention. Therefore, popular Weibo writers, V Weibo users (including celebrities) are all in contact with self-press companies. If they get money, they will deliver, no different from commercial platforms.
After the SIna news was released, we saw popular paid posters like 娱乐圈揭秘 and 圈少爷 and many other advertising accounts continuously post things in support of Kris and against SM. Shocking posts about how they make the artist kneel, and are retweeted tens of thousands of times. Many times prior to this these accounts have been shown to post lies to sabotage certain people’s image - as long as they get the rival company’s money. And support for Kris quickly shot to the top of the search bar. In the evening, more commercial accounts posted that SM paid them to write bad things about Kris. Whose image is this really hurting?
5 - What effect does this have on the other 11 members?
This is where I get really sad. If the steps we take after this are not good, an EXO that was approaching the top will soon find themselves tumbling down.
First one thing needs to be understood by everyone:
It’s Kris himself who filed for contract termination. He wants to leave. He wasn’t threatened by anyone. On the contrary, he had many opportunities to step in and make things clear, or speak for his other 11 members. But 24 hours passed. He didn’t. Only thing that kept being released was the new team’s press releases.
This is where you should choose where you stand.
Now let’s talk about how this affects them.
First, the Overdose promotion stages will be greatly affected. It will affect K’s results in Korea, and M’s promotion and stages in China are on the verge of collapse.
Following that, in 7 days EXO will hold their first concert tour. Stage positioning (as in, how members rotate positions) is very complex, it’s not like if one person is gone, they can just change a little or find someone to step in and everything is solved just like that. Furthermore, the VCR they filmed, if they can’t re-film, it will cause a lot of problems for the stages. This is their first concert. This is the concert they looked forward to for years and years. You can say that this is the concert they’ve been thinking about since they became trainees. And now, they have to do everything over, quickly and rushed, the future is unclear.
In other places of Asia, contracts specify the number of members. 12 people becoming 11 people is a strict violation of contract. Regardless of whether it can proceed, the company has to pay enormous contract violation fees. And whether this violation fee will be partly deducted from the other members’ income is barely a question.
Furthermore, whether it be group activities or individual activities, within the next year (and I’m being positive), everyone will be constantly asked about this lawsuit and contract termination. As long as this question persists, the members’ invitations, performances, and endorsements will decrease greatly. NO business wants to invite an artist who will take away from their own promotional point.
With this kind of decrease in performances, business invitations, exposure, and chart results, whether the group will still be able to receive accolades at the end of the year is something I have to worry about.
And even after all this, all I want to say is what did the 11 members do wrong? They didn’t know anything, they worked their asses off in practice through back injuries, wrist injuries, fevers - they gritted their teeth and fought through it all. Even just a month ago, they changed their display pictures to the pretty silver ocean. That’s how much they were looking forward to their own concert. And now, everything becomes difficult.
Again, this piece is for the fans who are staying with them. History repeats itself, and I gave you the examples I could think of. Don’t think wishfully and don’t wait while lying to yourself. If you don’t speak up for them, they will be pushed along and they will be scolded. No choice is made without accompanying pain from the wounds, and nothing is dream-like and painless.
If there was a solid tall wall and eggs that are being broken against the wall, I will always be on the side of the eggs. I know, ambition is strong and firm. But the people I’m protecting, their dream can no longer take such a beating.