My mind immediately goes to the image of a nice, when eaten every now and then, cupcake when you say the words “red velvet” to me. However, that is not the case in this situation. That should be no surprise with group names in the Kpop industry. ‘Ladies’ Code’ is not the female equivalent of the “Bro Code” and ‘Sistar’ did not misspell the word “sister”. Even words like “Delight” or “WINNER” end up being names and sometimes there are meanings behind these names. Sometimes a label just picks a random word or group of words and goes with it. This entry isn’t trying to break down Kpop group names and their meanings though. This case is about the conflict that existed between the indie band ‘Red Velvet’ and SM Entertainment’s (SME) new girl group ‘Red Velvet’. I will say from now that I already know that the indie band did not have the rights to the name and this entry is not aimed at “bashing” SM Entertainment. This is just my take on the situation and how I feel about it all.
It’s surprising Hyuna’s “Red” didn’t have a red velvet cupcake in it for sweetness, but I guess that would be too many red velvet names in such a short time. Some people are being funny and saying the cupcake had the name first. Anyone want to represent a sweet dessert in a court of law? >_<
This issue came to light before SME’s ‘Red Velvet’ even debuted and it was brought to the public’s attention when the indie band ‘Red Velvet’ showed discomfort with another group having the same name as them. There is another annoying problem now. I know both ‘Red Velvet’ groups are new and it’s not likely there will be much confusion, but just having to explain which ‘Red Velvet’ I’m talking about every time I bring up the name is annoying. *sigh* SME really had to have that name. I’ll move on, but it still annoys me. Now the indie band ‘Red Velvet’ is said to be from the area around Hongik University and they started performing/debuted in 2013. They have one song so far called “The Day After You Left (헤어진 다음날) and I really like the song. It’s the kind of song you would hear in a cafe and would relax too. Ha Hee Soo, a member of the indie band Red Velvet, had stated they were around for a year, performed at Hongik University (where they are based around) and are preparing for a new release soon. She is quoted in an article from Soompi.com saying, “It’s not like SM wouldn’t have searched the name before they decided to use it,” expressing the band’s disappointment. The same article mentions their song is listed on various music sites. The claim is not unfounded, since a label should be expected to research if there is any group that currently exists with the name. Even indie bands should be checked because it can cause confusion and tilt search engine results in favor of the side with the bigger company (and a logistics team that understands how to have their names on the top of search engine lists). Some people mention how typing ‘Red Velvet’ will still show results for cakes and cupcakes. They are not wrong because I just tested it. However, put the word “Kpop” next to those words and good luck finding results for the indie band. They’ve been around longer too, but there is only so much an indie band can do. Ha Hee Soo is once again quoted in the same article saying, “We’re a powerless indie band. If SM’s girl group debuts, our activities and promotions are going to get difficult. We’ve just now gotten our footing, and we have a lot of affection for our name, too.” It’s true that the name “Red Velvet” sounds nice and it’s natural that an indie band has affection for their name. However, it should be noted that even they realize the limits of their band. They are an indie group and it is not easy to patent a name, which apparently can be worked around with a few changes to the name. Obtaining the rights to a name can be a tricky process, which can also become expensive and time-consuming as well. It was confirmed that the indie band did not have the rights to the name “Red Velvet” and a patent attorney basically said they would not get it, if they did not apply first. Obviously SME applied as soon as they saw the opening, so that chance is gone. I doubt even a petition with millions of signatures would do a thing to change SME’s mind. As some people say, “Goliath beats David in the real world” and any label as big as SME is not likely to lose any kind of dispute with an indie band.
SM Entertainment’s ‘Red Velvet’ is off to an interesting start with controversies around them from the beginning. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but the fact that it is true makes it an interesting start. So far I have seen the indie band debate, the newspaper/insensitive imagery placement and fan disapproval of their debut right off f(x)’s promotions being cut short. At least people are talking about them and maybe that’s the point. There’s no such thing as bad publicity (as long as damage control is possible).
[Source: Soopmi.com] Link: http://tinyurl.com/nav8nkn
Now I find it hard to believe that SM Entertainment did not look into the name “Red Velvet” before deciding to use it. They could not have just thought about all the Kpop groups they know and thought “Nope. No groups with that name, so we’re good”. I believe they did come across the indie band and had their legal team check if they band had claimed the rights to the name. A smirk probably appeared on their faces as they raced to claim the rights to the name, which leaves the indie band ‘Red Velvet’ out in the dust. Is ‘Red Velvet’ the perfect group name? Not really. Is it really worth potentially hurting the chances of success for an indie band? Not to me, but this is the world of business. It all comes down to cold, unemotional decisions. YG Entertainment had run into this problem with 2NE1 when there was already a solo artist with the name ’21’. They changed the spelling and all was fixed with an apology to boot. Remember how I mentioned earlier about getting around name patenting with a simple change in the name’s format? Do you get it now? There you go then. I don’t think the indie band will change the format (which I can’t seem to figure out), so they are stuck at the mercy of SME. That is not a good place to be, since I don’t believe the current SME has a good understanding of mercy. Wow! It is really hard to appear fair when talking about a topic like this with SM Entertainment involved, but I am trying my best. I’m just being honest with how I understand things. Your opinions will (obviously) vary.
SM Entertainment’s ‘Red Velvet’ ran into other issues once they debuted, such as the insensitive newspaper headlines and images in some scenes. The message of happiness might have been good, but some parts were not seen as appropriate anyway. The MV was edited to change those parts, but people still remember it. Let’s hope this is the last controversy for them, at least for a long time.
[Source: Hellokpop.com] Link: http://tinyurl.com/pkl6fkv
The biggest problem for the indie band ‘Red Velvet’ is that the law is on SME’s side here because the facts are that the indie band ‘Red Velvet’ did not get the rights to the name and not having the funds to do so does not matter to the courts. This is where the ethical reasoning comes into play. Some people say it would be fair for the bigger label to understand the indie band’s situation and pick a new name. It’s not impossible because there will be new girl groups in the future with new names. I’m sure this isn’t the last girl group SME will be debuting. However, SME has probably decided they won’t change the name and will go along with it. SNSD made their recent comeback with “Mr.Mr.”, which is also the name of a Kpop boy group. Some people found it out that they did not choose a different name and how search engine results would now show the song instead of the group in the top results. I believe there was an issue with a ‘Mr.Mr.’ (group) diss track to SNSD, but that’s a different topic. Diss tracks in the Korean entertainment industry will be discussed another time, but this situation was about frustration on the group’s part. The point I made above about the SME and the ethical reasoning is echoed by a music industry official in the same Soompi.com article when he said, “SM is a major music agency. They won’t fight with an indie band. This kind of thing happens a lot in the music industry, and [in the past] even if there wasn’t any legal claim, they took an ethical stance and the issues were resolved smoothly.” This means the big label is generally expected to take the high ground and find a new name for their group. It basically means they were nice and decided to respect the smaller artist. That wasn’t exactly what happened this time.
The outspoken indie band member, Ha Hee Soo, met with SM Entertainment and a deal was apparently reached. SME’s statement on the deal was quoted as “We had a meeting with the band Red Velvet and decided to just keep the names as they are. We are now able to continue with Red Velvet’s debut schedule as planned, and we thank the band Red Velvet.” That means both sides will use the name ‘Red Velvet’, but promotion periods will just be different to avoid confusion. That does nothing for search engine results or general confusion, but it’s something. I do see SM Entertainment having control over who goes first when promoting, so the indie band ‘Red Velvet’ will have to watch SME to make sure they don’t collide promotional periods. This meeting was most likely one-sided with SM Entertainment outright refusing to change their name. It was probably a damaging (though not too much) move to demand the indie band use a new name, so SME decided to let them use the name too. I would not get too comfortable if I was the indie band ‘Red Velvet’ because they might find themselves in some kind of legal trouble later on, if they become successful enough. Forget the odds right now. If it does happen, then I suspect SM Entertainment will find a problem with them using the name. Do you believe SME would let an indie group use a name they got legal rights to when that group starts to become tougher competition? I highly doubt it, but let’s see how this situation unfolds for both groups from here on out.
Here is the MV for “Happiness” (행복) from SME’s ‘Red Velvet’! (Live Version included)
Here is the indie band ‘Red Velvet’s “The Day After You Left (헤어진 다음날)!