BTS’s HYBE Has a New C-Suite, Including Scooter Braun
Bang Si-hyuk is stepping down from his role as CEO of HYBE (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) as a part of a major leadership shakeup at the company behind K-pop megastars BTS.
Popularly known as the “Hitman,” Bang Si-hyuk will remain on the board of directors as chairman, and will also now focus on music production “which is his area of expertise,” according to HYBE. Bang Si-hyuk is credited on tracks by BTS, as well as K-Pop stars such as ENHYPEN and others.
The new CEO of HYBE has been named as Park Ji-won, who joined the company in May last year. He will now oversee HYBE’s overall management strategy and operations. HYBE’s US operations will be led by HYBE America CEO Lenzo Yoon Seok-jun and CEO Scooter Braun. HYBE says that the restructure is being implemented “to promote globalization through all-round deployment of top management leaders.”
The news of Bang Si-hyuk’s exit from the role of CEO of HYBE follows the company’s partnership and formation of a JV label with Universal Music Group in February and the acquisition of Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in April for $1 billion. HYBE said in a statement today (July 1st) that its plan now will involve “fully transplanting the K-pop business model to the US market.” The company’s global audition project as part of its JV label with UMG will be the first step in this plan.
As CEO of HYBE America, Scooter Braun plans to “strengthen HYBE’s position and competitiveness in the United States while leading the existing Ithaca Holdings business,” said the company in a statement. Jaesang Lee, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), who led HYBE’s acquisition of Ithaca, will also move to the US as Chief Operation Officer (COO) of HYBE America. Elsewhere, HYBE has also established a regional headquarters in Japan, headed by CEO Han Hyun-rok, with a new boy band to be introduced by HYBE Japan soon.
In a statement, HYBE said: “This leadership improvement is the result of a strong will to take the lead in overall systemic change from leadership to realizing the mid- to long-term business strategy of leaping into a global company. With the goal of leading, we have reorganized the scope of authority and responsibility according to the expertise of each leader.”
Bang Si-hyuk’s career began at Seoul National University, where he began songwriting. After meeting Park Jin-young, the two became a hit-making duo. In 1997, Park founded JYP Entertainment and Bang joined as a songwriter and producer, working on hits including boy band g.o.d.’s “Sky Blue Balloon,” singer Rain’s “Bad Boy,” as well as singer Baek Ji-young’s “Like Being Hit by A Bullet” and “My Ear’s Candy” and more. In 2005, Bang Si-hyuk left JYP Entertainment and founded his own company, Big Hit Entertainment. Big Hit is best known as the home of K-pop boy group BTS, whose songs Bang also co-writes and produces.
In October 2020, Big Hit made its stock market debut, with shares opening at 270,000 South Korea Won (approximately $235) — double its initial public offering price of 135,000 South Korea Won ($117) per share. Bang Si-hyuk’s 36.6 percent stake is now worth 3.14 trillion South Korea won (approximately $2.8 billion), reportedly making him the sixth richest person in Korea.
Bang featured in the 2020 edition of Variety’s Variety 500, an annual index of the 500 most influential business leaders in the global media industry, and won Best Executive Producer of the Year at the 2020 Mnet Asian Music Awards.
Bang Si-hyuk has spoken about the root causes of BTS’s popularity and how he has steered the group as a producer, but modestly attributes their success to luck. He told Time: “I fundamentally believe BTS’ success in the US had a lot to do with luck. It wasn’t my brilliant strategy or BTS being such a perfect fit for the US market. It was rather that their message resonated with a certain demand, and through digital media it spread quickly. And BTS touched something that wasn’t being addressed in the US at the time, so American youths reacted, and that was proven through numbers.”
Bang has described himself as an “old-school producer,” adding: “I place a lot of importance on the quality of the album. So I led an album-focused production. With good music and communication, the sales can follow.”
This article originally appeared on Music Business Worldwide.