The “7 year curse” is a prevalent one among Kpop idols, but why is it that most companies offer 7-year contracts?
7 year is the standard length of contract between Kpop idols and their entertainment agencies. Therefore, most Kpop idols also start to leave their companies and their groups after this 7 year mark. The result is something called the “7 year curse”, which implies that Kpop groups find it hard to survive over 7 years. But why this number specifically?
Prior to debut, Kpop idols often trained for 3 to 5 years, or in some cases, even a whole decade. This means that Kpop agencies spent fortunes on this pre-debut period, and would need more than 5 years to ensure the success of their artists, as well as to recover their previous investments.
In particular, promotional plans can be well-spaced out over a 7 year period. A Kpop group will be able to gain fame, establish their name, and live their prime. Past the 7 year mark, most Kpop idols will be past their peak, and agencies will want to focus on newer faces, leading to senior idols departing from their companies and disbanding.
Of course, there are a huge number of idol groups that were able to break the 7 year curse. However, this only happens if said Kpop idols are still hugely popular, winning cups and earning high revenues. In these cases, contract extensions will benefit both the artists and the agencies.
However, the 7 year contract can be detrimental to certain Kpop idols. For instance, if a Kpop group is popular, the company will stretch them as far as possible to earn as much money as they possibly can. Overwhelming promotions, meanwhile, can exhaust fans and idol alike, and the moment the idol groups show signs of decline, agencies will milk them further, without paying attention to the quality of new releases.
However, idols can be abandoned by their company, and then they will have to take on more debts that have lasted since their trainee days. In particular, idols cannot do other jobs and unilaterally withdraw from the entertainment industry when their contract has not ended.
After 7 years, idols can move on to a new chapter of their career. Many idols can not overcome the “7-year curse” of their old group but still achieve success with a solo career or joining a new group thanks to the experiences they forge. However, many idols have to end their career since their golden age is over and they are too old to become an idol.