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Every K-pop group and idols are working hard to reach their success, but indeed, debuting on a Korean Entertainment and agency is a huge perk for branding and advantages during training, dorms, food, etc.
While the BIG 3 Entertainment including SM, YG, and JYP Entertainment offers a high percentage of becoming successful after debut, these following K-pop groups from small and not that popular companies, at least before, rose from being ignored to becoming massively popular.
Coming from a very humble beginning, BTS started pursuing their career and passion for music in a small studio, with not enough funds for food nor budget for glamorous MV and photosets.
However, due to their grit, Big Hit is now one of the highest-earning companies, thanks to BTS. Also, due to the world-renown group, TXT and ENHYPHEN, their co-label groups, has sufficient equipment and facilities to train more and make their own name soon as well.
While people may know the group Untouchable as the first-ever artist of TS Entertainment, the debut of female group SECRET and the success of their track, "Madonna" became the doorways for the company to become known in the public.
Undoubtedly, the influence and impact of SECRET helped K-pop boy group BAP, to receive favorable attention from the media and K-pop fans.
MAMAMOO's unique approach to the music industry using their powerful vocals and fierce stage dominance is one of the reasons why fans come to love and support them. Due to their popularity, RBW Entertainment, who might be unfamiliar to some, rose as well, and they even launched a company in Vietnam with the help of the female group.
Also, their family is also growing with the addition of Vormance, Onews, Oneus, and Purple Kiss.
Before becoming the INFINITE which is now known to be one of the iconic second-gen groups, they experience tons of hardships first, including lack of proper equipment, small dorms, and facilities. However, following their release of "Be Mine," INFINITE then experienced massive success all over the world, earning huge wealth for their company, Woollim Entertainment.
WM was founded in 2008, with only a one-story building as everything for their boy band B1A4. The group even revealed that they had to practice using street lights as they have insufficient lights for practice overnight. B1A4 debuted in 2011, but it took them two years before getting their first music show win in 2013, which is after their Japan debut. The group also became massive in the US, and in 2014, WME finally purchased 1 six-story building as their new company.
Source Music is only a small company, but when GFRIEND debuted with "Glass Bead," it immediately captured the interests of music fans. "Mi Gus Tas Tu" became a hit as well, until they released their breakthrough, "Rough." Thus, Source Music had a sustainable success, until it was acquired by one of the largest companies which started as small as well, which is Big Hit Entertainment.
Coming from a small company, Jellyfish Entertainment, VIXX experienced hardship as well as from their survival show, training, and debut. However, they surpassed every challenge and were able to be recognized through "Voodoo Doll."
In 2013, just a year after their debut, CJ E&M bought 19% shares of Jellyfish Entertainment and became an independent label under them.