HYBE, the hitmaker behind global smash phenom BTS, revealed Thursday that it’s seeking its next big thing: A U.S.-based pop girl group.
The South Korean juggernaut said the new group will be developed like those of the notoriously tough K-pop industrial complex, which has a reputation for producing star singer-dancers—dubbed “idols”—by the dozens, all trained with nearly immaculate precision in both performance and public image. HYBE is now holding worldwide virtual auditions for potential members, who can submit their bids via an official website.
The girl group, which will eventually debut in Los Angeles, is the brainchild of a joint venture between HYBE and Universal Music Group. The two entertainment giants, founded on opposite sides of the planet, have been orbiting closer and closer for years now; in October, UMG landed a major licensing and distribution deal with HYBE for its flagship boy band BTS (those rights previously belonged to UMG’s competitor Sony Music). BTS could be considered K-pop’s greatest supernova: It’s the first such group to debut a No. 1 album on the U.S. Billboard 100, the first to perform at the American Music Awards, and the first to snag a Grammy nomination. Their YouTube channel has over 60 million subscribers, scores more than breakout chart-topper Billie Eilish and more than double that of beloved rapper Drake.
This new partnership sees HYBE collaborating with UMG’s Geffen Records, whose historic roster includes iconic artists like Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, and Weezer. It also marks the first time a U.S. record label and a K-pop company have joined forces to create a new performer, thus furthering K-pop’s ascent in the mainstream world, which had so far been largely powered by BTS.
Universal Music Group, which had a banner public debut on Amsterdam’s Euronext stock market in September, saw a slight increase in share price as of midday Thursday.
HYBE, meanwhile, released its quarterly earnings Thursday, reporting that revenue skyrocketed nearly 80% year-over-year. Between July and September, it hauled in roughly $288 million. That was mostly driven by a 40% year-over-year rise in its “artist indirect-involvement” business, which uses artists’ names and likenesses for advertising and branding. It was also bolstered by new revenue from album drops and celebrity appearances, which are accelerating after pandemic slowdowns.
HYBE also unveiled future projects to leverage its artists’ intellectual property across myriad mediums, including web novels, blockchain technology, and a video game coengineered with BTS band members set to launch in early 2022.