Big Hit and Universal ‘rewrite global music history’ with joint K-pop label, expanded partnership – Music Business Worldwide

 Big Hit and Universal ‘rewrite global music history’ with joint K-pop label, expanded partnership – Music Business Worldwide

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Universal Music Group and Korea’s Big Hit Entertainment have announced details of a “history making project” that will see the two companies jointly assemble and debut a new K-pop boy band.


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The as-yet-undiscovered group’s music will be released under a new Los Angeles-based joint venture record label created by Big Hit in partnership with UMG and the latter company’s Geffen Records. UMG boss Sir Lucian Grainge says the project will “further accelerate K-pop as a global cultural phenomenon”.

Members of the K-pop group will be selected through a global audition program which, according to Universal and Big Hit, is on track to begin in 2022 and will be launched in conjunction with a major US media partner.

The JV label was announced today as part of a wider “expanded strategic partnership” between Big Hit and UMG, which will also see both companies collaborate across multiple projects and technology platforms including Big Hit’s Weverse and VenewLive.

Last week UMG confirmed it had become an equity investor – alongside Big Hit, YG Entertainment and Kiswe – in the VenewLive live-streaming platform.

The new JV label will see both Big Hit and Universal/Geffen each claim distinct global responsibilities.

Big Hit will use its expertise to lead the discovery, training and development of new artists, fan content production processes, and management of fan communications through the Weverse platform.

In addition to working closely with a US media partner to produce the audition program, Geffen Records will oversee music production, marketing and global distribution operations.

“I’m certain that what we are announcing here today will mark the beginning of a new chapter in music history.”

Sir Lucian Grainge, Universal Music Group

The wider partnership agreement will see UMG artists make use of Big Hit’s digital platforms including direct-to-fan platform, Weverse, which hit 10 million downloads in early 2020 and which according to Big Hit’s Lenzo Yoon, is used by fans in 200 countries.

Weverse, developed in-house by Big Hit subsidiary beNX, pulls together content made by and for artists including music videos, teasers, movies, merch sales and even live streams, presenting it all in one place for various artist fan communities.

The platform is already being used by UMG artists like Gracie Abrams and New Hope Club. Alexander 23 and Yungblud will be joining Weverse in the coming months.


Speaking today, Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group, called Big Hit “one of the world’s most innovative music entertainment companies, having achieved phenomenal global success by demonstrating that great music can overcome language and cultural differences”.

Grainge commented: “We’re thrilled to be working with the powerhouse team behind the worldwide success of Grammy-nominated group BTS and I’m certain that what we are announcing here today will mark the beginning of a new chapter in music history.”

Continued Grainge: “[The] success of both of our companies has been built on a foundation of shared values including an ethic of mutual respect with our artists, an expertise in connecting with fans, and our ability to leverage technology to build global entertainment brands that transcend music.”

“I can’t wait to see what amazing music and entertainment the partnership between our companies will bring.”

Sir Lucian Grainge, Universal Music Group

The Universal boss added: “Big Hit Entertainment’s Chairman and CEO Si-Hyuk Bang and Global CEO Lenzo Yoon bring innovative perspective on the incredible growth opportunities of the entertainment business today.

“I can’t wait to see what amazing music and entertainment the partnership between our companies will bring.”


Bang Si-Hyuk, Chairman & CEO, Big Hit Entertainment, said: “Universal Music Group is a global entertainment industry leader with a foundation in music. It is one of the most influential firms that includes the world’s top labels.

“Lucian, who made UMG what it is today, is without a doubt one of the industry’s top innovators. Establishing a joint venture and carrying out various global projects with such a group is truly an honor.”

“I strongly believe that UMG and Big Hit, two companies that [have] endlessly pursued innovation, will create a synergy that rewrites global music history.”

Bang Si-Hyuk, Big Hit Entertainment

He added: “UMG’s influence [and] expertise accumulated in the world’s music market, coupled with Big Hit Entertainment’s pioneering ideas and innovation, will enable previously unimaginable feats.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to Lucian and Lenzo who played key roles in making this strategic partnership agreement a reality. I strongly believe that UMG and Big Hit, two companies that [have] endlessly pursued innovation, will create a synergy that rewrites global music history.”

Lenzo Yoon, CEO Global & Business, Big Hit Entertainment said: “I am extremely excited by the thought of the future Big Hit and UMG will usher in together. The significance of this project as an application of the winning formula that Big Hit Entertainment has established over the past 16 years in the US, the centre of the global music market, cannot be overstated.

“The significance of this project as an application of the winning formula that Big Hit Entertainment has established over the past 16 years in the US, the centre of the global music market, cannot be overstated.”

Lenzo Yoon, Big Hit Entertainment

Yoon further explained that the new group signed to Big Hit and Universal’s JV label would work based on the “K-pop system”, undertaking a combination of music, performance, fashion, music video, and direct communication with fans.

He added: “The result will transcend a partnership between two companies and the combination of two industries to become the fusion of cultures. I hope that this path, pioneered by our two companies, will bear witness to a brand new opportunity for the music industry.”

“This project offers both of us an incredible opportunity to learn from one another, to challenge one another and to help shape the next stage of one another’s evolution. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

John Janick, Interscope Geffen A&M

John Janick, Chairman & CEO, Interscope Geffen A&M said: “We are all incredibly excited about this joint venture project between UMG’s Geffen Records and Big Hit.

“Personally, I’m particularly excited about the fact that we’re engaging two leading global entertainment companies that each represent the East and West.”

Added Janick: In short, this project offers both of us an incredible opportunity to learn from one another, to challenge one another and to help shape the next stage of one another’s evolution. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”Music Business Worldwide

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