How to get into and be ‘discovered’ by SM Entertainment…
It was not easy for trainees of SM Entertainment to finally make it big in showbiz. Although Heechul already had fans since his training days because of his unique fashion sense and Girls’ Generation member So Hyun was just discovered in a subway, they had to go through intensive training.
Aside from auditions held every Saturday at 3 pm in SM Entertainment’s head office in Apkujeong, Seoul, where Super Junior’s Heechul and Girls’ Generations’ Yoona was discovered, aspiring SM artists participate in its “Youth Best Selection,” wherein applicants are classified into a certain group of “expertise” and battle it out to be the winner within the group. TVXQ’s Hero and Max, Super Junior’s Shindong and Kangin and actress Go Ara were selected as trainees through this casting system. Every year, more than 7,000 people compete in the “Youth Best Selection,” which is held in 5 cities in Korea.
SM Entertainment also holds global auditions in the US and Asia. Super Junior’s Hankyung became a trainee after being selected in a global audition.
Technology has also brought about new ways of auditioning. Now, trainee applicants can submit recordings through CD and mail and participate in ARS and UCC auditions.
If getting in is already a challenge, then being a trainee is harder. Trainees go through vocal, dance, acting lessons and even foreign language and composition trainings.
Training also lasts for a long time. Girls’ Generation’s members had to go through an average of 5 years in training. In fact, members Soo Young, Jessica and Hyo Yeon had to train for almost 7 years to become versatile entertainers.
Moreover, as SM Entertainment regularly holds recitals, trainees push themselves to be better.
YG Entertainment’s Training Process
What is it like to be a trainee in YG Entertainment, a label which focuses on black music and has churned out a lot of famous Kpop singers like Se7en, 1TYM, BIG BANG, Jinusean, Gummy, Lexy, and Wheesung? The last two have now left YG Entertainment and are now under SB&W and Orange Shock, respectively.
Trainees are guided by Yang Yun Suk’s words, “Before becoming a singer, you must first become a person,” hanging on a wall in the training room. It is Yang Hyun Suk’s policy that character should be given priority though ability is also important.
Trainees usually start young like G-dragon and Taeyang and practice until late in the evening and only have Sunday as their rest day. It is said that as a YG trainee, he/she abandons his/her private life and just focuses on training.
Aspriring YG singers undergo dancing, singing, foreign languages and physical trainings. They are supervised by a vocal trainer for three or more times a week in order to train them on basic singing concepts and in singing live.
Dance trainings are also done three or more times a week and YG Entertainment also employs, two or more times a year, international dancers to teach its trainees. Currently, Justin Timberlake’s female dance partner Michele Martinez is the dance trainer for YG’s trainees.
Trainees also study English, Chinese and Japanese 3 or more times a week. Moreover, basic equipment for weight training are also available within the office.
YG Entertainment, unlike other labels, does not select its trainees through public auditions. About 4,000 applicants tried to enter YG’s doors in 1998 through a public audition but no one succeeded. But aspiring YG singers need not to despair because according to a YG official, in 2 months’ time, Yang Hyun Suk will be coming out with a new system in discovering amateurs.
JYP Entertainment: passion is the most important
“Sincerity and passion, like what Wonder Girls’ Sunye and Lim Jeong Hee has shown, are the most important.”
For Park Jin Young, an applicant’s passion is the most important. JYP explained before that in order to become a star, he/she must have the passion to sing, the passion to dance, and the passion to be the best.
JYP Entertainment opens auditions every 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month, in which more than 1,000 hopefuls participate per Sunday. Three important criteria are taken into consideration in selecting trainees. They are passion, star quality and skills.
A JYPE official part of the artist development team revealed that Lim Jeong Hee failed twice in public auditions and it was her passion to become a singer that gave her the push to finally make it in her 3rd audition. This official also mentioned that Wonder Girl’s member Sunye trained and never gave up for 7 years.
The following are the JYPE training process according to an official in the artist development team:
How are trainees selected?
Last year, a large-scale nationwide trainee audition was done with the help of Mgoon. Applicants submit a video introducing themselves and showing their skills in dancing and sining. They have to pass a local preliminary contest then go on to a nationwide preliminary contest and those who pass the finals become trainees.
Applicants are processed on a first-come-first-served basis during public auditions held every 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month. Trainees are recruited in a lot of ways like public auditions, Internet auditions and recommendations/referrals.
How many apply during auditions?
About 1,000 applicants usually come on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month. However, trainees are not chosen weekly because if no one catches the attention of audition masters, then no one will be accepted.
During last year’s nationwide audition (JYPE and Mgoon), 5 passed as trainees and 2 of them are Jang Woo Young and Yoon Doo Jun, who are now featured in the cable program “Hot Blood Boys.”
This year, the 2nd nationwide audition took place with more than 12,000 participants. 32 applicants have managed to reach the finals but only 4 are planned to remain as trainees.
What do trainees go through?
Trainees undergo vocal, dance, foreign language and other trainings. Training process differs as each trainee has specific weaknesses and strengths.
How long do trainings take?
Trainee life may last for as long as 7 years or as short as 2 years. Wonder Girls member Sunmi and Joo debuted after 2 years and Sunye and Lim Jeong Hee only debuted after 7 years.