Brad Moore of Busker Busker recently held an interview with American webzine “Noisey,” where he released a lot of telling information about the Korean audition program “Superstar K” and what goes on behind-the-scenes. He revealed information like how people are cast for the show, and how royalties work for their songs, among other things. While these issues are generally accepted as convention in the Korean entertainment industry, hearing the information come directly from an artist came as a shock to many, and the repercussions are still in effect.
Following CJ E&M’s co-production for Busker Busker’s second album, they are also sponsoring Busker Busker’s concert in Busan starting on the third, and it seems that their relationship might now be somewhat strained. For now, Mnet is communicating CJ E&M’s stance with the public and trying to wrap up the situation.
#They didn’t audition for “Superstar K,” but were cast?
During Brad’s interview with Noisey, he revealed that at his first practice with Busker Busker, Jang Bum Joon received a casting call from “Superstar K.” Jang Bum Joon actually was eliminated from the qualifying rounds for the audition program, but when the producers heard that he was fronting a band, they called him, saying that they needed a band on the show. The disparity between the usual assumption that contestants audition for their show to realize their dreams and the fact that some are cast for the sake of the show drew a lot of attention and interest from the public.
But, truthfully, contestants on audition programs are often cast. Granted, there are those who seek out the show in order to follow their dreams, but it is also true that the producers keep an eye out at large and small venues all across the country for hidden talent that they might encourage to participate in the show. And while they may be sought out and encouraged to participate, it is a common stance among audition programs that these contestants do not receive privileged treatment.
#The winner of Superstar Week was set up from the beginning?
Brad also created a huge issue when he revealed that the winner of Superstar Week was decided from the beginning. While fans of the show might have guessed this to be the case for the sake of creating an exciting development, hearing this confirmed from a direct source came as a shock to many.
“They just needed diversity in their narrative, in their broadcasting – so they had us come in to make the show look successful.” Recalling Superstar Week, where they were paired with the duo “Two Months,” Brad said, “When they linked us up with these kids, the narrative had already been set: “Two Months” were passing, Busker Busker was failing. That was predetermined, we found out later…[the producers] just didn’t think we were marketable.”
If this is true, it could be problematic. But whether the winner was actually predetermined, or whether Brad misunderstood the predictions made by the producers for the ease of planning of the show, has yet to be revealed. Mnet will most likely release an additional explanation on this front.
#Revenue is not properly distributed?
While on the program, Busker Busker shot a Coca Cola commercial, as well as recorded the song “Makgeollina,” which became a huge hit. Brad revealed that they never saw a cent of royalties from either of these.
There have actually been several instances in which contestants have expressed their dissatisfaction with revenue, which, on one hand, comes down to how one views a contestant on an audition program. Are they an amateur or an artist?
It’s also a matter of perspective. From the point of view of the program, because they planned the show, they feel they have a right and privilege that reaches further than just the revenue earned from the contestants while on the show. Meanwhile, from the point of view of the contestants, especially those who later on rise to stardom, and are recognized as genuine artists, they could justly say that the program was unjustly withholding earnings.
CJ E&M stated, “We’ve already paid the artists for the recordings they did while on the show. For Busker Busker’s first album, we are still in the middle of calculating the exact revenue.” Finally, they stressed that “Busker Busker is receiving revenue allocation that exceeds that of other rookie singers.”
In terms of the commercial, CJ E&M’s explanation is that technically it was not the individual Busker Busker band that shot the commercial, but the “Superstar K” program. “Our main sponsor at the time was Coca Cola. That our contestants would appear on our sponsor’s commercial was part of the contract, and the same goes for Roy Kim’s appearance on the bank commercial.”
Whether the other two members of Busker Busker feel the same way as Brad is not certain. Since Brad’s interview became a sensation on the afternoon of October 3, the CEO of Busker Busker’s agency, Chung Chun Music, as well as Busker Busker’s manager, have been unreachable.
Update: Brad, on October 3, released an official apology, that being around a new language and culture, he misunderstood some things, and that he is very thankful to “Superstar K” and all of their support.