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Surviving the New Idol Economy A traditional label at its turning point.

admin 2018-11-14 Collect

In the past three months, Wang Guihong, manager of top singer Hua Chenyu appeared on the top searches chart on Weibo twice. This amount of attention is hard to achieve, even by the hottest up and coming celebrities. However, the attention is not a very good news for EE-Media, Hua Chenyu’s management agency.

Today, a screenshot of Wang Guihong’s Wechat moment started circulating online. She wrote: “I just want to say thank you to my business partners, clients, colleagues and members of the media who have always supported me. Thank you to all those who comforted me on the phone, through wechat message or emails. I have nothing to give to all of you in return, but I will always remember your kindness.” This “goodbye” sounding message triggered wild discussion about whether she is resigning as Hua Chenyu’s manager.

After trending on Weibo for half of the day, Ms. Wang responded saying that it’s just a thank you message to many colleagues being understanding and accommodating to her. However, she did not give a clear response regarding the status of her working relationship with Hua Chenyu.

In fact, speculations about Wang Guihong and Hua chenyu terminating their working relationship has been going on for a while now. Two months ago, hashtag, # Hua Chenyu’s manager#, trended on Weibo for the first time. Before this incident blew up on the internet, there have been a series of events that contributed to the blow up. Hua Chenyu’s fans repeatedly criticized his team for mismanagement and giving him heavy workload regardless of his health conditions. Ms. Wang responded to fans saying that it’s very normal for artists to have hectic schedules. Shortly after, an audio recording of Ms. Wang complaining about all the troubles Hua Chenyu caused. In the recording, she said Hua Chenyu doesn’t take good care of his own health and vocal chords and fans are spoiling him, which finally set off the war between the fans and Ms. Wang.

Regarding the recording, EE-Media, put out an announcement saying someone pretended to be a reporter to gain the trust of Ms. Wang and fabricated the whole incident. Fans were angry at the company for siding with Ms. Wang.

Steering Away from Music

For the past two years, EE-Media have been putting less emphasis on music and focused on film and television production.  

After Long Danni and Ma Hao left EE-Media, Xiao Ning took over in 2017. She was the manager of the program licensing department and led the introduction of hit Korean drama “Dae Jang Geum” to the Chinese market a decade ago. After she took office, EE-Media began to focus on film and television while undergoing a series of restructuring measure. She combined the music and TV&film department of EE-Media and artists began to participate in more film and television productions.

Hua Chenyu’s fans quickly noticed that the company is putting less effort into helping him advancing his musical career. As the most promising singer in the company, Hua Chenyu was not promoted accordingly. For his fans, selling out concert tickets and having many devoted fans with almost no promotion is not a valid reason not to promote him, the most valuable artist in the entire company.

According to the Special Verification Report on the Financial Result of Shanghai EE-Media Co., Ltd. released by Happigo, EE-Media’s artist management revenue was 257 million RMB in 2017, 91.4 million RMB of which comes from one top earning artist. Judging from the list of EE-Media’s existing artists and their popularity, that artist must be Hua Chenyu.

In 2017, Hua Chenyu participated in about 20 commercial performances including his solo concert “Mars Concert”, endorsed five brands including Estee Lauder and Six God. He also stared in a total of five popular variety shows including “Come Sing With me Season II”, “The Next Season II”, “The coming one”, “The Challenger Alliance”, “Sisters Over Flowers” and so on.

Besides Hua Chenyu, EE-Media’s next four top earners are Oho Ou, Chen Xiang, Jiang Chao, Yu Menglong, who mostly filmed drama series and movies, supplemented by variety shows, endorsements and some commercial performances.

Hua Chenyu have already been in EE-Media for five years now. While most popular artists, such as Luhan, Kris Wu, Tao, Chris Lee and Jason Zhang set up their own personal studios and take control over their own career, it is reasonable to assume Hua Chenyu would do that too at some point.

EE-Media getting into the idol game?

2018 has been a tough year for EE-Media.

Idol Producer and Produce 101 has brought the Chinese entertainment industry into a new era. Large numbers of brand-new stars are flooding the market, posing threats to traditional big players like EE-Media. Still sitting on a few stars it created in hit variety shows Super Girl and Super Boy over a decade ago, EE-Media’s brand recognition and influence is in decline. The regulators are clamping down on the TV and film industry hard because of a few tax evasion scandals, which will also negatively impact EE-Media’s revenue stream.

Under current market conditions, EE-Media is left with two choices. It can either take advantage of the resources of Hunan TV, its parent company, and invest heavily in TV and film, or invest in new girl groups and boy groups and try to catch up with the development of the idol market. However, both would be not be easy for EE-Media.

The company recently released a recruitment announcement looking for trainees while other artist management agencies, large or small are doing the same. Jiaxing Media (the management company of Yang Mi and Dilraba Dilmurat) launched a trainee recruitment program called Plan A; Yuekai Entertainment (manages Yang Yang and Victoria Song) and Xitian Media (manages Zhang Tian’ai and Wu Xiubo) launched a joint program Star Power etc. EE-Media will have to compete with a large amount of companies for limited talents.

The State Administration of Press is concerned about the “idol craze” and posed a series of regulations on celebrity appearances in variety show and their pay. Once the most effective “star factory” in China, EE-Media now faces profound challenges.


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