(ATTN: UPDATES with more info from 10th para)
SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- Big Hit Entertainment, the music label of K-pop superband BTS, said Wednesday its annual sales in 2019 nearly doubled from a year earlier thanks to its flourishing music businesses centered around the boy band.
Sales for last year came to 587.9 billion won (US$495.3 million), compared with 301.4 billion won in 2018, Big Hit said in a statement.
Operating income also jumped from 79.8 billion won on-year to an estimated 97.5 billion won in 2019, according to Big Hit.
"(Profits) in sales of albums, music sources, performances, video content and intellectual properties, as well as (business) platforms, driven by business diversification, all contributed to 2019 sales," the label said.
The company's co-CEO Bang Si-hyuk said, "2019 was a year when Big Hit strove to actualize its vision of innovating the music industry."
Big Hit released the sales data one day after a corporate briefing, where it informed its business partners of its corporate vision and plans for 2020.
According to the briefing now available on YouTube, Big Hit plans to debut three new K-pop groups over the next three years in a major bid to diversify its business portfolio.
A multinational boy band will be the first of the three to hit the K-pop scene, planning to debut sometime this year under Big Hit's venture with entertainment giant CJ ENM.
A girl group will follow suit in 2021 to debut under a joint project with Source Music, a music label under Big Hit. The company also plans to launch another boy band in 2022.
Last year, Big Hit began its aggressive push for corporate growth, taking over Source Music, the label of famous girl band GFriend and setting up a joint venture with CJ ENM, named Belift. Another game developer, Superb, also merged into Big Hit last year.
On top of them all, BTS cemented its global presence as superstars last year, bringing its world concert tour to one of the world's most lucrative concert series and achieving its historic third No. 1 on the Billboard 200 music chart.
Big Hit's co-CEO Yoon Seok-jun said the company plans to apply BTS' success story to other artists managed by the company to establish a business model dubbed the BTS Winning Formula.
He also unveiled a plan to partner with artists from outside of Big Hit.
As the first case of the envisioned collaboration, Seventeen, an outside boy band, will open its mobile fan community on Big Hit's app-based platform Weverse, where BTS and other Big Hit artists currently operate fan communities.
Also in 2020, Big Hit will unveil a series of entertainment contents featuring BTS, including a drama series, a computer game, a book series and a Korean language education video program.
The video, Learn Korean with BTS, will use previous video clips of BTS members to provide language education content. It will be made available in March, Big Hit said.
"I will strive to help the three major pillars of the music industry -- fans, artists and companies -- grow together fairly and soundly," Bang said.
As for the recurring rumors of Big Hit's possible stock listing, he said "nothing has been fixed as of now."
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