Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s largest music company, and Big Hit Entertainment, the Korean record label behind international superstars BTS, are partnering in a new label joint venture to develop a new boy group, the two companies announced in a pretaped livestream on Wednesday.
The new venture, based in Los Angeles as a collaboration between Big Hit and UMG’s Geffen Records, will launch a new global K-pop boy group in the U.S. in 2022, after candidates compete in a televised global audition process, Big Hit global CEO Lenzo Yoon said in the announcement. Big Hit will work with UMG through the Korean label’s American arm, Big Hit America, Yoon said.
Yoon told Rolling Stone in October that Big Hit’s mission is to become an all-encompassing global “entertainment and lifestyle service,” and the label has been quietly doubling down on its technology, intellectual-property licensing, partnerships, and spinoff content in recent years.
“I’m particularly excited about the fact that we’re engaging two leading global entertainment companies that each represent the East and West,” said John Janick, chairman and CEO of UMG’s Interscope Geffen A&M Records. “For our part, Geffen Records has a rich history of legendary artists who have had such a strong impact on musical culture over the past 40 years. 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.” Geffen Records has been home to acts such as Nirvana, Avicii, and Olivia Rodrigo.
UMG CEO Sir Lucian Grainge said that along with partnering for the new group, the company will be bringing artists, including Yungblud and Alexander 23, onto Big Hit’s artist-to-fan interaction service, Weverse.
And coming just a week after UMG’s investment in Big Hit’s livestreaming platform, VenewLive, the Big Hit and UMG strategic partnership ties the two powerhouses even closer together.
Grainge also said the company will bring artists to Weverse for curated performances: “We’ve long recognized that technology has the potential to offer benefits to artists and fans. That means working to support new platforms and business models that connect artists and their music to fans in new and compelling ways. Big Hit shares this vision — they’re an ideal partner for us.”
Big Hit Chairman and CEO Bang Si-Hyuk added: “Our two companies indeed have many things in common, from our pursuit of innovation to our commitment to providing our fans with genuine music and content of the highest and uncompromising level of quality. I hope you will look forward to our new adventure in the global market that Big Hit and UMG will shape together.”