Having built one worldwide sensation, Big Hit Entertainment, the management company and record label behind BTS, is looking to do it again.
Big Hit and UMG announced Wednesday a strategic partnership in which they will assemble and debut a new global K-pop boy group together in the United States for the first time. The members will be selected from a global audition process that will be televised sometime next year with a U.S. media partner to be determined.
Pop music survival competitions are not new to either Western or Eastern culture – the U.K.’s X Factor spawned One Direction in the 2010s, and the format continues to be popular in Korea, where Big Hit most recently used the Mnet series I-Land last summer to assemble its latest artist, Enhypen. But this new endeavor is the first attempt to create a truly global musical group, equally split between East and West.
The to-be-determined artist will be signed to a new Los Angeles-based label created as a joint venture between Big Hit and UMG imprint Interscope Geffen A&M Records, and upon its debut, it will go through K-pop’s “full-production system,” with all of its musical, dance, fashion and fan engagement trappings.
“This project is especially significant as it will apply Big Hit’s ‘success formula’ established over the past 16 years to the U.S., the center of the global music market,” Big Hit global CEO Lenzo Yoon announced Wednesday via KBYK’s VenewLive platform, which also featured Chairman and CEO of UMG Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Big Hit Entertainment Bang Si-Hyuk and Geffen CEO John Janick.
Big Hit will be leading the charge of discovering the band as well as training and developing the new artists and fan content and communications through its Weverse platform, a safe space for artists to interact directly with their fans. Geffen Records will oversee the music production, marketing and global distribution operations.
The project will serve as “an application of the winning formula that Big Hit has established,” said Yoon in Wednesday’s video announcement. “The result will transcend a partnership of two industries to become the fusion of cultures.”
Added Bang, “I strongly believe that UMG and Big Hit will create a synergy that will rewrite the global music history.”
The joint venture is part of a larger new strategic partnership between Big Hit and UMG, which also will include UMG artists joining Weverse. Chicago-based singer Alexander 23, Gracie Abrams (daughter of J.J.) and British pop trio New Hope Club are already on the platform, and Grainge said Yungblud is signing up soon. Last week, UMG, Big Hit and fellow major K-pop label YG Entertainment partnered with cloud-based video company Kiswe to launch VenewLive, a global livestreaming platform for artists to perform virtual concerts—a particularly pressing solution in today’s pandemic age.
Grainge praised Big Hit for its “innovative approach to developing artists and embracing new technology.”
“Big Hit has become one of the most dynamic companies in music entertainment. We’re thrilled to be working together as we launch a new joint venture between our companies that will further accelerate K-pop as a global cultural phenomenon,” he said.
Watch the full announcement below.