Big Hit Entertainment and Universal Music Group have announced an expanded strategic partnership.
According to a statement, the agreement will see the two companies work closely together to increase opportunities for artists through innovation and technology, while expanding the global reach of K-pop music and culture around the world.
UMG artists will explore enhanced "direct to fan" communications through Big Hit's Weverse, a community-based platform that allows fans to engage, share and interact, see and hear new content and purchase new products. Weverse is already being utilised by UMG artists Gracie Abrams, New Hope Club and Alexander 23, with Yungblud amongst the next wave of talent joining Weverse in the coming months.
It follows the announcement last week that UMG has become an equity investor alongside Big Hit, YG Entertainment and Kiswe in KBYK's VenewLive premium live streaming platform.
Making the joint announcement today via KBYK's VenewLive platform, the two companies also announced the details of a “history-making project” to assemble and debut a new global K-pop boy group together in the US for the first time.
The new artist project will be released under a new JV label to be created between Big Hit – the global team behind BTS – in partnership with UMG's Geffen Records. Geffen is behind iconic acts including Nirvana, Guns N' Roses, Elton John and Avicii, alongside 2021's breakthrough global pop artist Olivia Rodrigo.
The newly-created label will operate from Los Angeles and will work closely alongside teams from Big Hit America, Geffen Records and UMG.
Members of this new boy group will be selected through a global audition programme, set to begin airing in 2022 in conjunction with a major US media partner. The global act will work based on the K-pop system — a full production that combines music, performance, fashion, music video and communications with fans.
Big Hit will utilise its global 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 programme, Geffen Records will leverage their extensive industry network and partners to oversee the music production, marketing and global distribution operations.
Bang Si-Hyuk, chairman & CEO, Big Hit Entertainment, said: "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. In this sense, I strongly believe that UMG and Big Hit will create a synergy that will rewrite the global music history."
Lenzo Yoon, CEO global & business, Big Hit Entertainment, said: "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.
“This project is especially significant as it will apply Big Hit's 'success formula' established over the past 16 years to the US, the centre of the global music market."
Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group, said: "With their 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."
John Janick, chairman & CEO, Interscope Geffen A&M, said: "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."