Despite releasing only one title song “MAMA” along with an EP consisting of 6 songs, EXO has gained one of the largest growing fandoms not only in Korea, but internationally as well. However, the approach with which EXO’s record label SM Entertainment has been promoting them is questionable. SM Entertainment attracted a lot of interest surrounding EXO during their ‘teaser era’ when they released 23 teasers, featuring 16 various songs, all within the span of 100 days. To the fans’ disappointment, though, they only released a fraction of the songs promoted for their debut in April 2012.
Over the next year, EXO promoted a single title track song with no sign of any other content besides two audio leaks of songs demo’d back in March. Now approaching mid-May, their record label announces an official comeback along with insight into a theme that displays a ‘schoolboy’ concept. They also followed up their announcement with tweets stating dates of when teaser photos and videos would be uploaded onto their website.
Fans grew excited and impatient for the long awaited comeback. On May 24, 5:00PM KST, they constantly refreshed the label’s official youtube channel until a private video was displayed. Impatient fans attempted to hack the private video’s html code and were able to get blurred thumbnails while others researched how to alter settings to make a private video public. Looking at the teaser, it seems that EXO’s title song “Wolf” would stick with a dark concept as done in “MAMA”.
SM Entertainment then uploaded a ‘Highlight Medley’ previewing a few seconds of each song featured on the album. Meanwhile, the dance/choreography video for EXO’s title song was leaked, and, soon after, the ENTIRE album became leaked and had been spread internationally. There were mixed reactions from fans about the leak, with most angered by the carelessness of the company for not protecting their content. Even the producers such as Ryan Jhun grew angry and asked for fans to be supportive by waiting for the official release and preventing the leak’s spread.
So will EXO’s comeback be successful? Will their loyal fans avoid the leak, or the fruits of the hackers’ labor continue to spread? We will find out in due time.