Big Hit Entertainment, the South Korean company behind the boy-band phenomenon BTS, is expanding a strategic partnership with Universal Music Group and its Geffen Records label in an ambitious attempt to replicate the successful K-pop formula—and the social media virality that goes along with it—with an American music company.
Company executives, including UMG chief Lucian Grainge and Big Hit CEO Bang Si-Hyuk, announced the move Wednesday on VenewLive, a live-streaming platform launched by Big Hit last year in which UMG recently became an investor.
Lenzo Yoon, Big Hit’s global business CEO, described the partnership as a “fusion of cultures.” Under the arrangement, UMG will leverage Big Hit’s technology, notably the social networking app Weverse, while Big Hit gains a deeper global footprint with an American music powerhouse whose roster includes everyone from Nirvana to Olivia Rodrigo.
The companies are launching a Los Angeles-based label as part of the deal and have announced that the search is on for the next K-pop sensation, with auditions to begin in 2022. The newly discovered boy band will debut in the United States, a first for a K-pop group.
Founded in 2005, Big Hit debuted on the Korea Exchange in October, one of the largest IPOs there in years.