It’s no secret the Kpop industry is cutthroat. Despite the jam-worthy songs and the surplus of groups, it’s a tough industry. NU’EST, a five member group, was on the brink of losing it all. After years of struggling to sell their albums and gain the public’s attention, 2017 was their ‘make it or break it‘ year.
In 2017, four of the members joined Produce 101 (a survival/talent show meant for artists-in-training). Yes, they got a lot of hate for it at first. The members were already considered experienced artists. But this was their last chance. Embarrassingly they had to go back to square one. They trained with beginners and had to prove to the world their past failures were not a reflection of their talent.
One of the members, Minhyun, ended up debuting in the show’s temporary boy group, Wanna One. During (and especially after) the show, NU’EST’s popularity skyrocketed.
Produce 101 gave NU’EST a platform and audience they desperately needed. During the show the audience connected to the members. They sympathized with their story and many realized how talented the group was.
After the show, the group promoted with four members under the name NU’EST W (waiting for Minhyun’s two year contract with Wanna One to expire). In April 2019, Minhyun returned to the group and they released an album as five members again.
NU’EST’s story is a reminder of how many underrated, struggling, Korean groups there are. Often times when a band doesn’t receive proper promotion or financial backing from their company, the group will be overlooked and ignored by the industry. This will lead a group to permanently disband. Or worse, a group can be forced to stay in the company (by contract) to pay off their debts.
Most of the time companies blame their artists when the group isn’t successful. Yes, even talented singers, dancers, rappers, models and actors, who have been training for years will receive the blame. When in fact, it is due to lack of marketing and monetary support from the company.
I’ll just sip my tea and pretend I’m not throwing shade or anything…
It’s no secret NU’EST didn’t rise to fame overnight. They endured years of ridicule, failure, endlessly working hard without the promise of ever seeing success. NU’EST had paid a large price prior to receiving their fame in Produce 101.
So if members of struggling groups join survival programs…does this mean the same thing that happened to NU’EST will happen to them too?
In all honesty, I don’t know.
Each case is different. Each company is different. Yes, each group is different.
A group may join a TV show, get some publicity, win a music show or two, but that does not guarantee they’ll ride on that wave forever. In order to keep groups afloat they’ll need good promotion/marketing, talented members, and a dedicated fanbase.
Other groups have tried following in NU’EST’s footsteps. But without the support from their companies, the fate of struggling groups still look grim.
Luckily, after the show NU’EST’s company, Pledis, understood the need to focus on this group and give them what they deserved – good promotion and support.
The past several months many Kpop audiences have taken notice on struggling groups. Today, when a company lacks the resources to properly promote their artists, it is up to the fans to truly support them.
Everyday there’s music being released into the world. There’s always an opportunity to listen to new artists and support a group.
Each week I try to discover new and old talent. Particularly those who haven’t quite reached the attention of the public. I plan on releasing more posts showcasing underrated groups. But until then I encourage you to search for talented guys and gals that need your support.