Popular boy-group Wanna One recently changed entertainment companies. Formed through the second season of popular Mnet survival show, Produce 101, Wanna One only signed a year-long contract with YMC Entertainment that ended this May 31st. As the end of their contract loomed, Wanna One announced their decision to continue promoting under Swing Entertainment, a new, one-man agency dedicated solely to managing Wanna One. In the announcement posted on their official fan cafe, Wanna One stated that they would maintain a “collaborative relationship” with YMC Entertainment to ensure a smooth transition. However, Wanna One seem to have stumbled into rough waters after signing with Swing Entertainment.
Swing Entertainment began their reign by messaging numerous Wanna One fansites on Twitter to advise them that the fancams they had filmed and posted were illegal and punishable by law. This resulted in many fansites deleting their fancams or making them private before going on indefinite hiatus, including LIFTOFF and Spin out, popular Kang Daniel and Park Woojin fansites respectively. Wannables mourned the loss of these fansites, some of whom had been with Wanna One members ever since their Produce 101 days, and many of whose beautifully filmed fancams had drawn fans into Wanna one in the first place.
Fansites consist of fans who trail the group’s public schedules in order to capture beautiful, high-definition pictures and videos for other fans. Fansites pay for their accommodation, travel, and equipment by themselves, and get no compensation for the pictures and videos they post. Fans who cannot interact with their favourite group due to limitations like money, distance, and short promotion cycles, often rely on these fansites to stay updated on the group’s activities. Swing Entertainment’s casual dismissal of this fact enraged fans, especially once Wanna One released 1÷x=1 (Undivided), their first album under Swing Entertainment.
Fans complained that the pictures in the poster and photobook for Wanna One’s new album were peppered with staff hands, often out of focus, and overall, of low quality. Swing Entertainment should have meticulously checked the album materials for quality before approving them for production and distribution. This less-than-stellar condition of Wanna One’s official merchandise implies that Swing Entertainment is either trying to cut costs by using cheaper materials, or that they simply don’t care, neither of which endeared Swing to fans. Wannables accused Swing Entertainment of hypocrisy by threatening to pursue legal action against fansites who shared high definition content for free, yet failing to provide materials of equal or better quality even after fans paid for them.
These complaints have merit. It is unfair of Swing Entertainment to ban fansites, who are a normal part of K-Pop, from sharing Wanna One content given how many fans depend on fansites for updates of Wanna one. It is doubly unfair of Swing to sell shoddy content for money; it paints Swing Entertainment as a money-hungry company eager to turn a profit and while this may be true, it alienates fans.
Swing Entertainment drew even more fan ire with their handling of Wanna One’s first world tour. On June 1st, the same day Wanna One’s contract with Swing Entertainment officially began, Wanna One kicked off their first world tour in Seoul. The tour would’ve included fourteen concerts in eleven countries, four of which were in the US. However, on June 5th, Powerhouse LIVE, the company organizing Wanna One’s American concerts, announced venue changes for three of the four concerts.
The new venues have a significantly lower seating capacity than the previous venues. The new Atlanta venue houses 2,750 seats compared to the previous venue’s 13,000, the new Dallas venue has a seating capacity of 6,300 compared to the previous venue’s capacity if 13,500, and the new Chicago venue holds 4,400 people compared to the previous venue’s 18,500.
This glaring discrepancy in seating capacity hints at low ticket sales, which is understandable. Wanna One only debuted last year after all, and therefore, has had less time to establish a sizeable international fanbase compared to their seniors. However, it seems that Swing Entertainment overlooked this fact and overestimated Wanna One’s overseas popularity and ability to fill concert arenas.
This oversight signals carelessness on Swing’s part. It stands to reason that an entertainment company would conduct research regarding their group’s popularity before giving their concert organizers rough numbers to work with so they can book concert venues. It would do better for Swing to have a better understanding of Wanna One’s fanbase in the future to avoid downgrading venues — an occurrence that netizens might interpret as an inaccurate statement about Wanna One’s popularity.
This blatant overselling of Wanna One paints Swing Entertainment as an ambitious company trying to boost their reputation by branding Wanna One as a group that performed at large venues across the US, as come netizens’ comments seem to suggest.
Swings Entertainment is admittedly a newly formed entertainment company. Their carelessness might be a result of inadequate experience in managing a group as popular as Wanna one. Swing Entertainment’s artist, Wanna One, is also still in the process of uncoupling from YMC Entertainment and communication gaps between the two companies might have been the catalyst for Wanna One’s poor treatment.
Regardless, Swing Entertainment should have realized the brunt of their responsibilities before they agreed to sign Wanna One. Wanna One is Swing Entertainment’s sole artist, so they should be dedicating all their resources and manpower towards ensuring the group’s success. Swing Entertainment’s continued carelessness and callousness towards fans despite this raises eyebrows and leaves one to wonder whether Wanna One are in bad company.