GOT7 has left JYPE       

The 10th of January 2021 is a day that will forever be etched in the minds of every Ahgase (the official fandom name of the k-pop group GOT7/ what GOT7 fans are officially called) – it was the day that GOT7 left JYP Entertainment to join various different labels and to finally spread their wings and show their fans the sides which they could not for so long. 

Contract renewals are generally a nightmare for k-pop fans. If some members of a group don’t renew the contract, there’s a strong likelihood that the group won’t promote as a whole any more. 2 PM is an exception – the sole reason being that Taecyeon was the only one who left, while the others renewed their contracts with JYPE. Prime examples include SNSD and f(x) – where some members stayed in the company they debuted under (in this case, SM Entertainment)  while the others left to pursue activities in different companies even though official disbandments weren’t announced. 

However, Ahgases had been anxiously waiting for January 2021 since it was when  GOT7 would have a chance to discuss their contract with JYPE. Unlike most groups, where fans pray for the entire group to re-sign with the company, Ahgases wished for the complete opposite – for contract expiry and the members leaving JYPE. Frustration and anger have been simmering for long amongst Ahgases regarding almost everything about the group – their comebacks, their social media presence, their albums, their online content, their privacy, their safety, and even something as basic as as adhering to the members’ wishes to explore and express their own creativity and artistry. This is why Ahgases celebrated, instead of being down, when the official announcement of the members leaving the company was released by JYPE. 

For the longest time, Ahgases have been frustrated with JYPE and their way of handling GOT7’s activities. It makes no sense whatsover since JYPE is the one making profits at the end of the day – especially considering  that GOT7 is one of the two pillars of JYPE’s revenues (the other being the now nation’s girl group – TWICE). Fans have pointed out a lot of things that serve as examples of the mismanagement GOT7 has been subjected to, which include:

  • For a very long time, GOT7 was the only major group to not have their albums listed on Amazon for sale (for ease of access to international fans), along with the fact that international fans have to constantly wait for a long time to view English subtitles on GOT7 content. International Ahgases have had to learn Korean themselves because English subtitles have been so hard to come by.
  • The constant breaches of privacy that the members have faced (in particular, Youngjae, Jackson and most recently, Mark) with close to zero action on JYPE’s part to prevent these from happening further (unfortunately, this is what you call a Tuesday in k-pop).
  • The major source of dissatisfaction among fans is how the members have time and again indirectly expressed frustration with not being able to release their own songs, their own work, or not being given enough chances to do what they want to do. While the constant and strict control on the creative freedom of idols is normal in the k-pop scene, artists have shown that CEOs’ and higher-ups’ opinions aren’t always correct when it comes to picking and approving songs. Of course, one must take into consideration the fact that founders of major companies, like Park jin-Young are veteran and extremely talented musicians who know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to music and have released hit after hit (especially when it comes to JYP’s girl groups.) A major case in point (ironically from JYPE itself) is Sunmi’s ‘Siren’. She wrote and composed the song during her Wonder Girls days, but founder Park Jin-Young rejected the song because he thought “it wasn’t it,” as he believed it wasn’t fit to be a group track, and Why So Lonely was chosen instead. After she left JYPE and debuted as a solo artist, she released the song as the title track of her second EP, Warning. The track hit No.1 across music charts in Korea – achieving a perfect all-kill, i.e. topping both daily and real-time music charts. Fans have consistently pointed out that they like the songs that the members have made as opposed to the tracks JYP writes for them. Leader JB played the original version of ‘Eclipse’ (the title track of their ninth EP “Spinning Top: Between Security and Insecurity”) along with other original versions of  various other songs in a Vlive broadcast. The song went through a number of changes before it was approved as a title track. However, the Vlive was never reuploaded – which is what is usually done with Vlive broadcasts.  Their most recent EP – Dye – consisted of songs written by the members and was their highest selling album. (We do not have proper statistics for Last Piece.) While this may be a move (rejection of original songs) that JYPE follows through with to ‘stay safe’ with the revenue stream, it is unfair on the company’s part to constantly reject original songs when the general consensus towards these are overwhelmingly positive. 
  • GOT7’s latest album, Breath of Love: Last Piece — notable for its double title tracks, is the first album by the group in which the title tracks were composed by the members, and marks their first comeback after seven months—received little to no promotion from JYPE, along with lack of schedules, poor social media promotion as well as hardly any  of the content that is released along with a comeback (variety show appearances, VLive broadcasts etc.) 

Ahgases are now relieved with the news that GOT7 has left the company as a whole, and while the share price of JYPE fell briefly with the news, it rose in the following weeks due to the fact that JYPE has powerhouses in TWICE, Itzy, Stray Kids, and most recently, with NiziU. JYPE as a company will undoubtedly flourish, especially considering the fact that they plan to debut an all Chinese boy group, dubbed Project C, which is speculated to recover the Chinese fan base they have lost since  Mark and Jackson left JYPE. 

What does the future hold for GOT7 now? Youngjae and Jackson have both signed with Sublime Artist Agency (home to Hani, Rain, Lim Na Young among others). Team Wang has signed a strategic business partnership with SAA to co-promote Jackson. Hip-hop mogul Jay Park’s company AOMG (home to Lee Hi, Conde Kunst, Gray, Loco, Hoody etc.) has signed Yugyeom while Jinyoung will be joining BH Entertainment (an agency known Park Bo Young, An So Hee, Park Sung Hoon etc.) to focus on his acting career. The eldest member Mark has opened his own YouTube channel (which incidentally hit 1 million subscribers before he’d even released a single video) and is currently relaxing with his family in the States. He will be releasing a single ‘One In a Million’ soon (whose pre-save link broke because of overwhelming demand), and plans to do gaming livestreams along with acting opportunities and releasing music. BamBam plans to sign with MakeUs Ent. (home to ex-JYPE artist Sunmi) and will continue promoting both in Thailand and Korea. Leader JB is the only one who hasn’t confirmed with a label yet, even though it has been reported that he has received offers from various hip-hop labels. The septet have promised their fans that it isn’t the end of GOT7 and group activities will continue – which many fans are positive about as the group’s bonds is one of the strongest in the industry. 

Only time will tell what paths these men will pave for themselves, but fans are ecstatic and will continue to support their future activities – in a group and as solo artists. 

-Rajlakshmi Chavan

SY B.Sc  Economics

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