Git Yo’ Hands Outta My Pocket: AVEX Accused of Coercion by TVXQ Trio

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Avex, Avex, Avex. Haven’t they learned anything from the fight between JJY (Junsu, Jejung and Yuchun) and their Korean agency SM Entertainment?  According to translated reports, the answer is no. (And my commentary below will be based on the translated reports. If something changes, I’ll let ya know.)

The news flying all over the internet is that AVEX — the agency many fans including myself thought they could trust to at least give the three members a fair shake — apparently wanted more than the trio could give when they sought to change the terms of their contract with the three members.

Junsu, Jejung and Yuchun are (were?) riding a massive wave of success in the Japanese market with their latest mini-album titled “The…” debuting at #1 on the Oricon WEEKLY charts and moving almost 140,000 copies in the midst of slump in the Japanese market.  Jejung was chosen as the costar in a high profile video for one of the most popular and well known Japanese artists in Japan, Ayumi.  And their LIVE DVD from their ‘Thanksgiving’ concerts in DOME also shot to #1 on the DVD sales chart in Japan.

Through all of this, they never publicly complained about anything. But in actuality, the trio apparently were going through a rough time with AVEX in Japan comparable to the terrible time they are having with SM in Korea.

You read it for yourself (if the initial translated reports are 100%).  JJY at some point signed with a management company called CJeS.  There were allegations that the head of the management company had ties to gangs  or to coercing other artists. 

AVEX knew full well about all of this including the coercion rumors, but proceeded to make arrangements to deal with the three members anyway.  Everything was fine, the guys were doing their job and making history in Japan.  One of the employees of AVEX even assured fans months ago that there wasn’t an issue with CJeS via his Twitter postings.

Fast-forward to now and suddenly out of the blue AVEX announced the suspension of activities in Japan for JJY.  However, according to the official statement from JYJ, AVEX wanted to change the conditions between themselves and the three in such a way as to make demands that the guys thought were totally unreasonable. 

And you KNOW they aren’t going to fight like hell in Korea for fair treatment only to run to Japan and have someone else shackle them into some ridiculous contract all over again.

The guys weren’t having it. From the translated statement:

“Avex put forth conditions that were unfair to the trio unlike their previous contract, and when the trio refused to accept such conditions, Avex stated the gang ties of the head of C-JeS as a reason for canceling the contract.”

If that weren’t bad enough:

“Avex attempted to coerce the trio to comply to changes in the contract, but when the trio refused to agree to such conditions, Avex announced a halt in their activities with no regard to the trio’s opinions.”

And there’s more:

“This can be seen as Avex taking all the money that they can from the TVXQ trio and then proceeding to create a situation that makes it impossible for the trio to sign on with any other agency in Japan, thus blocking the trio’s path with regards to Japanese activities. The TVXQ trio had no intentions of stopping their activities in Japan, and the announcement made by Avex reflected only the thoughts of the agency themselves.”

Situations like this cause other companies to be afraid to take on the responsibility of even dealing with the members who are having issues with another large Japanese agency.  Or, other agencies may want to take a wait-and-see approach and not want to take the risk of representing them in Japan. 

What seems to be incredibly hateful is that AVEX made the announcement first trying to paint it as if JJY’s people were involved in some scandal that AVEX knew nothing about and tried to use that as the reason why JJY was suspended from activities.  Well, looks like that wasn’t the case at all.  When AVEX released their statement, fans were immediately suspicious because they specifically remembered a high ranking AVEX employee assuring fans that there was no problem with anybody at CJeS.

And thinking back on it (as suspicious as I naturally am), I wouldn’t at all be surprised if someone at AVEX “overlooked” such allegations for the specific purpose of later using the CJeS allegations as something to hold over the trio’s heads at some point; a sort of ‘Trump Card’.  That person or persons at AVEX (if they exist) probably didn’t expect for the three members to fight back because the guys are also being shutdown from performing in Korea by SM.  But that’s just me. 

I don’t know why it never dawned on AVEX that the trio wouldn’t roll over in Japan when they’re fighting for their careers in their own country.

My heart hurts for them because it seems like the more they prove their money-making potential, the more agencies try to give them a hard time by being greedy and wanting to take more and more from them.  What the hell makes these people think the fans wouldn’t get wind of this at some point?

The problem with trying to crush someone like TVXQ (or any members who make up the group) is that their fanbase is enormous and brutally loyal to them.  The fans don’t give 2 craps about which agency they’re signed to as long as that agency treats them with respect and honor.  The second someone shows dishonor or causes a problem for them, that person will have to live with a wrath the likes of which you have never seen.  Just ask SM. 

And with the trio becoming enormously more popular in Japan than they were before the SM fight, it looks like AVEX will probably have a heaping dose of what SM is getting.  Or it may be worse because AVEX was seen as a beacon of hope.  They held themselves out to be the ones who were fighting WITH the trio to make their situation better.  Fans argued with their fellow fans defending AVEX against those who were suspicious about them.

As you can imagine the TVXQ boards are lit up with furious, saddened fans. Just on soompi alone, there are comments like

– “Our boys trusted them. And they got milked.” (KGB)

– “Well that just sucks, I thought Avex was a company the boys can trust I guess that went down the drain” ( jgal16)

– “i dont know who is worst if AVEX or SMEnt … ” (SolTOHO)

– “It seems that the skeptics of Avex were onto something after all.” ( jduongdo)

– “I seriously believed in Avex even though some fans have said that Avex was shady. I guess they were right after all :/ I’m really disgusted with music companies”  ( kamkam12694)

– “SME is very bad but Avex is just worse to use the chance to make money over them. Thanks, now we know who you are.” (Yoochunlover)

– “In Korea there’s SM, root of all evil. In Japan there’s Avex. What will they do now? Where will they be able to sing on a stage? These poor guys had their faith and trust broken not once, but TWICE. How painful must it be? To be stabbed in the back by the ones you relied on?” (MichyItaly)

There will be a few trolls — who already don’t like TVXQ — who will use this opportunity to cause fans more misery.  But are you noticing a theme already?  AVEX is being compared to SM and that is ruinous to AVEX’s reputation in the eyes of the fans.

And yes there were a few fans who ventured to be critical of AVEX’s president months ago before any of this happened. I personally couldn’t believe that anyone would find fault with AVEX for allowing the guys to still do their thing in Japan.  Well, that was then.  This is now.

As of this hour, there isn’t even an attempt by AVEX to deny that they sought to change JJY’s contract. No denial that they knew about the CJeS representative’s past.  No denial that they sought to change the income distribution.  No denial that they wanted to take over full control of JJY’s scheduling.

The only thing we’ve gotten from AVEX’s CEO thus far are tweeted messages about this serious subject complaining that the trio chose CJeS over them.  The problem with that is there has to be a reason why a decision was even necessary.  This didn’t just suddenly happen out of nowhere.  Who put the trio in a position to have to chose all of a sudden? And why?  It speaks more to the facts revealed by JJY’s statement that AVEX put them in a position to have to make a decision by trying to force them into an untenable contract.  Remember, AVEX already knew about CJeS long before now so it wasn’t a breaking scandal that caused AVEX to force them to “choose”.

According to a translated report, AVEX CEO tweeted: “If we were such a bad company, then all the artists in avex would have said that they wanted to leave.”

Did all artists leave SM even though it was clear SM had kids signed to 13 year slave contracts? Did all artists leave SM even though they’ve been under intense criticism for their exclusivity contracts and controlling nature?  Did all artists leave SM because SM was found to have unfair contracts with TVXQ by a panel of judges in the lawsuit JJY filed in South Korea?

So saying that all artists would have left your company if it were ‘bad’, is NOT a valid excuse for getting away from criticism.  Its like loan sharks saying ‘If we were bad guys, nobody would borrow money from us.” No. That’s not a valid excuse.

What is twice as upsetting is that these guys aren’t some talentless bunch who can’t sing worth a lick. They are outstanding young men who are talented, goal-oriented, handsome, humble, and respectful .  They write, they arrange, they compose, they act, and they study music like an engineer studies mathematics and science.  All of them. Not just a couple or a few of them.  That’s why they are so beloved and have such a loyal following. 

I do know one thing, though.  I know that fans all over the world are only becoming more resolved in their intention to see it through no matter what happens.  Nobody can buy the type of respect I have for these young men right now. 

What I wish most is for them to keep their eyes on their goal, walk forward with the respect that they’ve earned and to keep fighting for what’s right.  I wish there was another group as talented and popular as they are who could have fought these battles years ago and paved an easier way for them.  But they happen to be the first.  They have a heavy responsibility and I hope they know there are those of us in the U.S., in Canada, in Finland, in Malaysia, in Thailand, in Australia, in Germany, in Taiwan, in China, in Morocco and all parts unknown all over the world who will not let them walk through this alone.

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