Big Hit Entertainment and Universal Music to Debut New Boy Group Together
The two labels’ joint venture will kick off collaborations on a number of projects, including the expansion of community social media platform Weverse
Big Hit Entertainment (the label behind global superstars BTS) and Universal Music Group hosted a press conference earlier this morning to outline the details of a new joint venture together. The announcement was made via a pre-taped livestream featuring Bang Si-Hyuk, Chairman and CEO of Big Hit Entertainment, Lenzo Yoon, CEO Global and Business at Big Hit Entertainment, Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group and John Janick, Chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M.
The join venture will see the labels work on three key projects: the launch of a new boy group, the expansion of Big Hit Entertainment’s Weverse community social media platform to boost artist-fan interactions, and the launch plus expansion of VenewLive, a platform for live-streamed concerts and events.
The upcoming boy group will be selected through a global audition program which will air in 2022 in conjunction with ‘a major U.S. media partner.’ The group will be recruited and trained under the K-pop system’s production of music, performance, fashion, visuals and fan interaction. The artists will be managed by a new label based in Los Angeles which will work in partnership with Big Hit Entertainment’s American division (Big Hit America) and UMG’s Geffen Records (known for being the home to Guns ‘N’ Roses, Nirvana, Olivia Rodrigo, Elton John and Avicci.) Yoon stated, “We will strive to secure competitive platform leadership and develop a top group of artists through the close partnership between our two companies, enabling K-pop to transcend all borders and languages.” He added, “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 will lead the discovery, training and development of new artists, fan content production processes, and management of fan communications through the Weverse platform. Geffen Records will be responsible for producing the audition program, oversee the music production, marketing and global distribution operations. “With their innovative approach to developing artists and embracing new technology, Big Hit has become one of the most dynamic companies in music entertainment,” stated Grainge. “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.”
In addition to the new group, Big Hit and UMG plan to further develop and expand Big Hit’s community-based social media platform Weverse. There will be technological developments, new features and an expansion of the roster of artists who can join to communicate with their fandoms. The artists on Weverse currently include Big Hit Labels’ entire roster, Korean artists outside of Big Hit Labels like rapper CL and UMG artists Gracie Abrams, New Hope Club and Alexander 23, with Yungblud amongst the next wave newcomers to the platform. Big Hit and UMG plan on opening the doors to any artist who wishes to join, not just those under their management. Bang stated, “Our two companies indeed share values and visions in that we both pursue constant innovations, and are committed to providing our fans with genuine music and content of the highest and uncompromising level of quality.” He added, “In this sense, I strongly believe that UMG and Big Hit will create a synergy that will rewrite the global music history.”
The third aspect of their partnership is the development of the platform KBYK’s VenewLive, a platform for live-streamed concerts and events in the wake of online concerts becoming ‘the new normal’ in a post-COVID era. This follows the announcement last week that UMG has become an equity investor alongside Big Hit, YG Entertainment and Kiswe in VenewLive. Janick concluded, “We are all incredibly excited about this joint venture project between Geffen Records and Big Hit. This partnership offers both of us an incredible opportunity to work together helping to shape the future of music globally to the benefit of artists and fans alike.”