Open Letter To Limelight Entertainment Group

I recently attended a K-pop concert in NYC. In the lead-up to the show and during the show itself, there were some SERIOUS problems. I decided to write to the concert promoter about it. This is the letter I wrote. I will update if I happen to get the “quick and prompt” response they’ve promised.

Dear Limelight,

Good afternoon.

As you have been made aware, there were a number of challenges, inconsistencies, and problems with the recent VIXX Showcases that you produced in New York and Chicago. Before I go into those problems, I would like to extend my thanks. Your company brought VIXX to their American Starlights, and made shows happen in places that don’t tend to get much in the way of K-pop performances. For this, I am grateful, and I thank you.

Unfortunately, I fear that you will be given precious few opportunities to do something like this in the future unless you change company names and strongly revise your methods and practices. It shouldn’t be too difficult, starting fresh, because even though your website claims ten years of experience, a quick Google search for businesses called Limelight Entertainment Group brings up wedding DJs from New Jersey, and your Facebook presence is brand new, showing exactly zero other events that you’ve produced. So, if you are, in fact, both event producers specialising in wedding DJs from New Jersey AND “New York’s top boutique marketing company” (as the hyperbole-laden copy from your website states), my recommendation is that you stick to weddings and corporate events, because this little foray into the K-pop world shows that you are simply not prepared for all that it entails. If you’re simply a brand-new promotion/production company that set its sights on K-pop but chose a company name that’s shared by a group of wedding DJ’s from New Jersey, perhaps it’s for the best that you change your name anyhow.

You see, K-pop fans and Korean entertainment companies both want more exposure in the U.S. However, they both also have long and detailed memories. No matter if you’ve been in event production in the U.S. for ten years or if you’re brand new to it, you missed the first thing that you needed if you were going to be successful: allies. As of right now, you don’t really have any.

We tried. The fan groups in both Chicago and New York tried, to no avail. The professional translator who was originally slated for the NYC show tried, and was ultimately forsaken for an amateur who was clearly unprepared for the job. I personally sent you a Facebook message when it became clear that you were having problems with communication, and the backlash was beginning. After a significant wait, I was finally given an email address to which I might send a message, and told that somebody would get in touch with me. I sent that message. Nobody responded.

We wanted to help. Some of us, only for the VIXX Showcases. Others, like me, for anything you might have in the pipe that was K-pop related, because we, as fans, have a vested interest in seeing K-pop well-represented in the U.S. and have already seen too many botched productions. We didn’t want this to be yet another one, because in the end, it hurts all of us – the fans, the artists, and the event producers.

But it was. In the end, both shows had their share of fiascos, and the vast majority of them can be laid at your feet. You started burning bridges almost immediately.

Your first FB post was on October 4, 2014, and the first apology you were forced to make came a mere 9 days later, on October 13. There was, apparently, “a problem in operations” that caused the outrageous ticket prices/packages to be released to the public without approval from Jellyfish Entertainment. The number of problems with those packages, the pricing, and the fact that you thought you could get away with it without informing the entertainment company are too numerous to count, but I would like to applaud you on the hubris it takes to offer $750/$1000 packages. Nice try! Because, you see, had they been allowed to actually go on sale, people would have bought them. You would have been screwed when it came time to fulfill the promises made, but people would have paid that much to get that close to their bias group.

I understand that business is about making money. I also know that K-pop and Hallyu in general is a potentially huge cash cow in the U.S. It’s understandable that you’d want to jump on that train. The problem is, rather than having some restraint (that wasn’t imposed by Jellyfish), you chose to try to make a big grab right away. If you’d done things the right way (and the fans in the U.S. are desperate for somebody to do it the right way), it wouldn’t have been a one-shot deal. You would have fostered goodwill in both the fan communities and in the entertainment companies in Korea, and thus gotten more bookings, thus being able to truly seize the opportunity as a long-lasting player in this game. Instead, you went for the grab. You allowed short-sighted greed to take hold, and that’s what drove this entire promotion. You over-promised and under-delivered, when it should have been the other way round, and now you’re stuck with having to make more apologies. Perhaps you were operating under the adage that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. When it comes to stealing cookies before dinner, that adage may hold true. It does not, however, when it comes to big, international business. There are too many eyes on you for that to play well.

Speaking of apologies, you issued something that called itself an apology on Facebook. Let’s unpack that, shall we? I think it’s very telling.

Limelight Entertainment Group extends to our attendees a formal apology regarding some of the complications that arose during our 2014 VIXX Showcases.

SOME of the complications. You’re not saying which ones. You just know that the fans are angry, and you’re not really willing to name which complications you’re referencing, because you don’t really feel that you should have to take ownership of them. Also, it’s not only the attendees that deserve an apology. When you have fans who are writing letters to both the performers and their entertainment company to apologise for what happened during their visit here, you know you messed up.

We were unable to deliver to some of you the unforgettable experience that was promised at the beginning of this production.

Oh, but that’s actually not the case at all! You absolutely delivered an unforgettable experience! I know that I, personally, won’t soon be able to erase from my mind the feeling of being ripped off, shoved around, yelled at, misled, disrespected, and ignored. An unforgettable experience is precisely what you delivered. The problem is, many of the memories are negative.

We are working around the clock to learn from the mistakes made so that we can return as a more structured and credible company to provide k pop fans around the nation shows that will forever be embedded in their memory.

Please, enlighten me. To which mistakes are you referring? Could it be…
Hiring a venue which has a history of providing bad sound for K-pop shows and a venue staff that is clearly not equipped to deal with K-pop fans?

Using non-professional translators for both shows, one of whom wasted almost the entire Q&A session by begging the group for a hug, and the other who was pulled out of the GA line approximately 20 minutes prior to the doors opening, thus giving her no time to prepare? That second one, by the way, was brought in despite you already having a person lined up to translate – a person with actual experience in doing translation work at music shows, and would likely have behaved in a much more professional fashion as well as having quicker and more accurate translation, AND was willing to work for free, but whom you chose to let go via text message on the afternoon of the show.

The snafus with the ticketing. Not just the initial, adorably outrageous packages being offered, but also having to delay ticketing AGAIN because you were “waiting for approval from the venue”?

The blatant mishandling of autographed posters at the NYC show, causing many of them to be given to the fans who’d won them with creases, folds, and tears? (The women who were distributing those posters, by the way, were well aware of the way they were treating the posters, and even laughed about it, saying, “I definitely should NOT be handing these”.)

The lack of timely information? You didn’t announce the second delay in NYC tickets going on sale until right around the time that they were supposed to be available. I’m afraid you can’t convince me that you didn’t know before then. You simply chose not to tell people. This also applies to the refusal to answer the most basic of questions on your Facebook page, which was the only avenue that most of us had to contact you,and the announcement that NO cameras were to be allowed at the shows (contradicting earlier information) that didn’t come until far too late (i.e. day of show).

Promises made that were not fulfilled? We have yet to see any of the hi-touch video or stills that were promised, none of us have any idea what the “many special amenities” were in the Skybox, and your 500 NYC VIP ticket-holders received…hmmm…well, not very much more than 300 of the GA ticket-holders except a “VIP PASS” on a lanyard that cost maybe all of $0.25 to produce, if that.

The foundation of company lies not within management or employees, but from the support of k pop fans worldwide.

Hmm. Close, but not quite. When you don’t even respect either the fans or the artists enough to bother capitalizing the “k” in “K-pop”, it speaks to a general disregard of those fans and artists, as well as disrespecting an entire country. (Hint: The “k” stands for “Korean”! This might be useful to remember as you go forward.) Also, the management and employees both behaved in such a fashion as to not garner any goodwill at all among the fans. So basically, that statement is nullified by your actions.

We began this company with our foremost mission being to provide our concert attendees with the greatest possible experience both in service and production.

Which is admirable in theory, but difficult to see in practice. You ignored simple questions, you gave out bad information, you gave out too little REAL information too late to be of any use, you treated the artists efforts (the signed posters) with disdain, and I can’t even begin to discuss the sound issues at Terminal 5 without going into a rage. You lied to the organisers of fan groups in both cities, and could not even be bothered to hire actual professional translators (or, in the case of NYC, allow to donate their services for free). Tell me, exactly, how you believed that you were implementing such a noble and lofty mission? I am sincerely curious to know.

We’ve read your emails and we’ve read your comments and will be taking measures to address the issues that arose.

Really? Prove it. I’m certain that I will not be the only one watching for notification of the measures being taken. My comments on the page have not been answered, nor has the original email I sent to you quite a number of weeks ago.

For the majority of our concert attendees, Limelight Entertainment Group, thanks you all for your support and hopes to see you all again for our next production. Thank you!

Which of the people who bought tickets and attended the shows you produced are you NOT thanking here? Who is the minority that does not deserve thanks? Again, I am sincerely curious to know.

We’ve created an email, customerservice@llgroupent.com, so that any individual with any questions will have a response quickly and promptly. We encourage you to email us with any questions you may have, we look forward to hearing from you.

WELL. A response that is both “quick” AND “prompt” (hint: They’re essentially the same thing!) would certainly be a change from what we’ve seen thus far. I’m looking forward to the quick and prompt response to MY questions and inquiries! Which are as follows:

What, if anything, will be done to give recompense to the VIPs who paid $125 more than the GA attendees in NYC and received essentially nothing more for that amount? We were under the impression that there would be a “more intimate” experience for us during the hi-touch, but we were all rushed through at such a pace that we couldn’t even exchange hellos with each of the members of VIXX.

What were the “special amenities” in the Skybox at Terminal 5?

What changes will be made in your practices for future shows? Will there be personnel changes too?

When and where will the rumoured footage (video and/or stills) of the hi-touch events for both NYC and Chicago be available?

Why have you chosen to put out “formal” apologies that do not contain the words “regret” or “we are sorry” in them, and why were they released without having somebody proofread/copy edit them first?

It looks as though you’re taking a break to “restructure”. Do you have any other K-pop shows in the pipe, or are you going back to the familiar ground of booking wedding DJs?

How do you intend to solve the “hiccup” with the merchandise packages?

Many of the signed posters were won by people who were unable to attend the show. I’ve heard rumour that posters will be mailed out “two weeks after the concert”. That, in itself, is an unacceptable delay. Please tell me that you’ll at least be mailing them in poster tubes?

What will you be doing or have you done to apologise to Jellyfish and to VIXX for your astonishingly unprofessional behaviour and blatant disrespect?

I do sincerely look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. If you happen to be in NYC, I would even still be amenable to meeting with you in person to discuss these things further. Because, you see, I want K-pop to have good representation in the U.S. For the fans, and for the artists. It would be really really nice to see at least one promotion company do it right and do it well, thus earning themselves a good reputation and more resultant bookings. As it stands now, bad representation makes us all look bad, and this is VIXX’s second experience with a promoter that did things badly. How likely do you think they are to try a third time? And if they don’t, how likely do you think it will be that fans will forgive and forget that Limelight Entertainment was the company that ruined it for us?

Regards

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