Lee Soo Man of SM Entertainment gained popularity for his folk-rock music during the days when he used to perform as a singer. Yang Hyun Suk of YG Entertainment on the other hand, was in the hip hop group Seo Tae Ji & Boys where he was in charge of the performances as well as their hip hop style. Those characteristics of each CEO are the most significant difference between the two leading K-Pop entertainment agencies.
SM Entertainment appeals to the crowd with their trendy style that is universally popular at the time, not to mention their music that is enjoyed by majority of the population. For example, the fact that it is even possible for SM artists to get together to create the “SMTOWN World Tour”, is because of the variety of different colors that are present in their music.
YG Entertainment however, focuses on hip hop and R&B. Currently, YG Entertainment if working on a strategy to increase the number of hip hop fans. Mastering the specialization in a genre must mean that they must have a distinct style. However, that is not the case for YG Entertainment artists, who are free to express their own styles. YG Entertainment artists Big Bang and 2NE1 are the main representing artists of YG, following after Jinusean and 1TYM. Both Big Bang and 2NE1 have unique characteristics and are almost freestyle. Although they focus on hip hop, the members have released solo albums that contain ballad, rock, and even trot. Big Bang’s leader G-Dragon is a singer/song-writer who creates music with his own sense of style.
SM Entertainment creates music that has a set style. SM artist BoA mentioned in an interview recently, “SM style is a song that has an electronic beat in the beginning with a mix of addicting and repetitive lyrics.” SM Entertainment made their name as the agency that most successfully promotes K-Pop.
Two agencies have been competing through the artists they have debuted. However, YG Entertainment began walking in a different route when they changed their policy. When Psy and Tablo signed with YG Entertainment, success came knocking on their doors with their talents. YG Entertainment became the main representing agency of K-Pop especially after Psy’s “Gangnam Style” became a global success.