Industry Representatives Vote On Best Groups, Solo Artists, Rising Stars, And More

Korean entertainment agencies have shared their opinions on who stands out in the industry right now!

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of its founding, Sports Seoul held a survey from June 3 to 14 with representatives from 50 different agencies to hear their opinions on which groups, management companies, producers, and more are currently making a name for themselves.

Sports Seoul surveyed the following 50 entertainment agency representatives:

Kwon Chang Hyun (Musik K Entertainment), Kim Kyung Min (DSP Entertainment), Kim Myung Hoon (nhemg Entertainment), Kim Min Sun (rrr Entertainment), Kim Sang Ho (JYP Entertainment), Kim Yeon Soo (Pledis Entertainment), Kim Ji Won (SM Entertainment), Kim Ji Hong (Woollim Entertainment), Kim Jin Woo (RBW Entertainment), Kim Hyung Gook (Label SJ), Kim Hee Sun (220 Entertainment), Nam Gyu Seok (Nextar Entertainment), Nam Seo Woo (Brand New Music), Noh Young Yeol (Amoeba Culture), Ryu Ho Won, MAKEUS Entertainment, Park Gyu Heon (PocketDol Studio), Park Se Jin (Polaris Entertainment), Park Young Eok (Million Market), Bang Jae Hyuk (KQ Entertainment), Seo Hyun Gyu (Happy Robot Record), Seo Hyun Joo (Starship Entertainment), Shin Dong Ik (Magic Strawberry Sound), Shin Min Kyung (T.O.P Media), Woo Chung Rim (Fantagio Music), Yoon Young Ro (Cre.ker Entertainment), Yoon Ji min (H1GHR Music), Lee Sang Chul (Long Play Music), Lee Yong Geol (HOW Entertainment), Lee Yong Hwan (The Black Label), Lee Eung Yong (Maroo Entertainment), Lee Jong Hyun (Blockberry Creative), Lee Joo Seob (MHN Entertainment), Lee Joo Won (Happyface Entertainment), Lee Joon Sung (Source Music), Lee Won Min (WM Entertainment), Lee Hyung Jin (MLD Entertainment), Jeon Seung Hwi (Cube Entertainment, Jeon Hong Joon (StarCrew Ent), Jung Jin Ho (Big Hit Entertainment), Jo Sung Wan (FNC Entertainment), Jo Young Chul (Mystic Story), Jo Woo Young (YG Entertainment), Jo Yoo Myung (Swing Entertainment), Choi Sung Pil (Play M Entertainment), Choi Seung Yong (RD Entertainment), Tiger JK (FeelGhood Music), Han Jung Soo (MILES Entertainment), Hwang Sang Hoon (C9 Entertainment), Hwang Jung Moon (MAJOR9), Kang Tae Gyu (music critic).

Each individual was asked to pick their top three in each category, with three points given to their top pick, two points given to their second pick, and one point given to their third pick. The total score in each category was 300 points, with the maximum score one candidate could get being 150 points.

Check out their responses to the categories below:

“Power people” who move the industry

  1. BTS (68 points)
  2. SM Entertainment producer Lee Soo Man (58 points)
  3. Big Hit Entertainment chairman Bang Si Hyuk (47 points)
  4. JYP Entertainment’s producer Park Jin Young (23 points)
  5. IU (18 points)

Best K-pop producer

  1. Big Hit Entertainment chairman Bang Si Hyuk (101 points)
  2. SM Entertainment producer Lee Soo Man (65 points)
  3. JYP Entertainment producer Park Jin Young (37 points)
  4. Block B’s Zico, Teddy (11 points each)

Best boy group

  1. BTS (141 points)
  2. EXO (53 points)
  3. SEVENTEEN (25 points)
  4. NCT (17 points)
  5. BIGBANG (9 points)
  6. MONSTA X (7 points)

Best girl group

  1. TWICE (111 points)
  2. BLACKPINK (69 points)
  3. Red Velvet (24 points)
  4. Oh My Girl (13 points)
  5. IZ*ONE (11 points)
  6. (G)I-DLE (10 points)

Best male solo artist

  1. Block B’s Zico (71 points)
  2. Rain (38 points)
  3. Paul Kim (23 points)
  4. EXO’s Baekhyun, BIGBANG’s G-Dragon (16 points each)
  5. Park Hyo Shin, Busker Busker’s Jang Beom June, Lim Young Woong (14 points each)

Best female solo artist

  1. IU (115 points)
  2. Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon (52 points)
  3. Chungha (38 points)
  4. Heize (21 points)
  5. Sunmi (17 points)
  6. Lee Hyori (11 points)

Best rising star (can include groups that haven’t debuted yet)

  1. TXT (60 points)
  2. ITZY (43 points)
  3. SM rookie girl group (13 points)
  4. CRAVITY, TREASURE, ATEEZ (7 points each)

Best K-pop management company

  1. SM Entertainment (98 points)
  2. Big Hit Entertainment (83 points)
  3. JYP Entertainment (48 points)
  4. YG Entertainment (8 points)

The agency representatives were also asked how they’ve been dealing with the changes they’ve had to go through due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One representative stated, “Our concerts have been canceled and album promotional activities are difficult as well. We’ve been continuing activities through ‘on-tact’ channels, but I think it would help to get additional support to rent venues or produce larger scale content.” Another individual stated, “The industry is facing many losses, especially small and medium-sized agencies. Compared to larger agencies, there are limits to the scope of advertisement and activities we can do, and we don’t have systems set in place for online concerts, so we hope the government will help provide a realistic support system.”

The representatives also discussed how there is a need to set industry standards for charges when it comes to using online platforms. One person noted, “As digital music and online concerts continue to take up a bigger portion of our revenues, there is a need to set better standards for reasonable profit division for online content. Currently, distribution companies and platforms take too much of the profits.” There were also hopes that the government would help support the establishment of global online festivals and other online promotional activities.

Although many things have changed, the representatives were cautiously optimistic that events would slowly resume as long as social distancing and other health measures were upheld. One representative stated, “Although it is sad that there are less opportunities for artists and fans to meet in person, the caution we are currently taking is the right thing to do as this is an emergency situation. I hope that many people in the industry will come together to come up with various ways in which fans and artists can continue to connect through ‘on-tact’ routes.”

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