Oh No He Didn’t

Singer Chen Chusheng has upset the show business order in China by doing something nobody in Asia does: On Jan. 14, he sued his management company, E.E. Media, to get out of his contract.

E.E. Media is the company that sponsors the wildly popular “Super Boy” and “Super Girl” TV singing contests.

The 28-year-old Chen won “Super Boy” in 2007 after years of playing guitar in pubs in southern China. His subsequent single, “Has Anyone Told You,” was downloaded 16 million times in 2008, and the Chinese search engine Baidu claims that his name was the most-used keyword in 2007.

It still holds the record for the most searches in a single day – 215,481.

Chen is said to be the most influential pop star in China right now. Young people are taking up the guitar because of him.

Chen told Chinese media that he wants out of his contract because E.E. Media did not keep its promises, one of which was to provide Chen with his own recording studio.
However, his main complaint is that the company has arranged too many performances for commercials and concerts and as a result he does not have the time to work on his own album.

“I spent almost all of 2008 negotiating with the company,” he said at a press conference, “and it was all in vain.”

It is a common problem. Most entertainment agencies in China, not to mention Japan and Korea, tend to try and extract as much work from popular acts as quickly as possible.

Unlike Chen, most artists put up with it because they usually feel an obligation to their management organizations.

But Chen has received a lot of criticism in the media.

Music critic Tan Fei recently wrote that he thinks Chen “sets a bad example. How many firms will dare invest their money and energy in new singers if the risk is so great?”