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SM Entertainment Buying Songs

June 22, 2011


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Ok, so this isn’t something that we’re used to doing, but we felt compelled to do a short video about this. Yesterday, when we did our review of f(x)’s “Hot Summer” we stated, in the video, that we’d discuss this issue at another time. This is the other time. Here’s what we think about SM Entertainment buying other songs and repackaging them as their own.

We’ve been thinking about this whole SM Entertainment buying other people’s songs bit for a while, and we don’t think it’s simple enough for us to pick a side so quickly, because there seems to be a lot of issues in play. SM hasn’t done anything illegal. They bought the rights to all of their songs. And so, we think that it’s not fair that, in the comments that we’ve been reading on YouTube and other sites, that people think of SM as some monsters. They’re an entertainment company, and they’re doing their best to get their Kpop artists to sing and dance to the best songs possible. They’re not breaking any laws or stealing any songs. They’re doing everything legally as far as we know. So let’s throw the plagiarism claims out the window.

The question that some people are asking is then why don’t they write their own songs, or hire songwriters? You don’t hear this from YG Entertainment, or from JYP or Cube Entertainment, do you? If it does happen, it’s not quite as often as you hear with SM. Hot Summer was by Monrose. Danger was by Kristine Elezaj. SNSD’s Run Devil Run was originally sung as a tester by KE$HA.

Yes, we know those last two were demos. They weren’t fully released songs and weren’t claimed by either KE$HA or Kristine Elezaj.

But what does that mean, fully released? Are they not out there on the internet? Are people not listening to them? Just because they didn’t go through the full process of being super produced and released to the masses in album format and sung in their concerts, that doesn’t negate the fact that these are still songs sung by other people before they were sung by SM artists. That’s what we find a bit awkward. Is it just us, or aren’t songs supposed to represent how a musician feels? Like, these are my thoughts and emotions, and I’m going to express them in song. If you find out that the artist bought that song from someone else, it takes away from the feeling of sincerity, or genuineness. Or is this just naive of us?

Here is where we have to raise a sad point: SM is an entertainment company, not a traditional music artist company. There’s a difference. They’re a multinational million dollar company that has a huge staff of people on hand, all working closely with kpop idols to entertain the hell out of you. If you’re looking for a band that got together and started singing songs in their basement, then evolved into a group that makes groundbreaking music as an artform, then you’re looking into the wrong genre with Kpop. But if you want to be entertained, if you want to dance and sing along, then SM’s doing a great job. They’re the Hollywood of Asian music. And don’t for one second think the process is that much different in American or European pop.

That might have sounded terrible, and so we want to add something to it: thanks to Kpop, our idea of music artistry is evolving. Songs aren’t made from the ground up by one artist or a small band when it comes to Kpop, but there is a different level of artistry in play here. The dancing is definitely a part of the artform. The performances are definitely a part of the art form. Live music is really a forgotten art amongst some groups: we’ve been to concerts before from artists whose songs we loved, but whose on-stage performances were abysmal. Shouldn’t that matter? Shouldn’t that count? Good luck finding people that can sing and dance as well as SHINee, and – on top of that – sing WHILE dancing so well. The hours kpop artists put into their performances is staggering, and to dismiss them altogether because they didn’t write the words to their song is kinda unfair.

So let’s toss this argument out with the plagiarism argument: Kpop artists are immensely talented people, and though they may not fit the traditional idea of musicians, they’re taking music artistry to a different level, and focusing on different aspects of music than what we’re traditionally used to.

Long story short, we can’t say that SM is doing anything wrong, but we can’t say that we fully agree with it, either. We wish they made their own music instead, and – from the looks of it from all the raging YouTube comments – it seems like a lot of people agree with us here. And this seems like an obvious point: nobody would complain if SM made wholly original songs, while a lot of people disagree with SM buying other people’s songs. SM has the money for it: pony up and start making original songs already!

This by no means was meant to be a factual scientific analysis of Kpop and of SM’s song buying tendencies. We’re just expressing our opinions here on what we’ve seen. If you’ve got something you’d like to add to the discussion, we encourage you to do so. On a related note, feel free to know that if you leave any belligerent comments, we retain the right to delete them in hopes of keeping a civil conversation going.



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