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(LEAD) BTS agency Big Hit, Universal Music team up to find new K-pop boy band

K-pop 09:37 February 18, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 4, 8-12, byline)
By Lee Minji

SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- Big Hit Entertainment, the agency behind global dynamite BTS, and Universal Music Group (UMG) on Thursday unveiled plans to put together a new K-pop boy band that will debut in the United States.

In a pre-recorded video streamed early Thursday, the heads and executives of the two companies announced the new project, which will proceed through a joint venture label between Big Hit and UMG's Geffen Records that have produced music for artists like Nirvana, Elton John and Avicii, as well as rising rookie Olivia Rodrigo.

The envisioned label will be based in Los Angeles and will drive the project to find the new boy band through a global audition program aiming to air in the U.S. in 2022. While it will debut in the U.S., the group will train through a "K-pop system," according to the companies.

This image, provided by Big Hit Entertainment and Universal Music Group, shows a screenshot for a strategic partnership announcement between the two companies made public on Feb. 18, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

As part of their partnership, the two companies said they will push to increase fan interaction through Weverse, a fan community platform operated by Big Hit. In addition to Big Hit's artists and other Korean musicians on the platform -- such as BTS, Seventeen, Sunmi and CL -- UMG artists Gracie Abrams, New Hope Club and Alexander 23 have also joined the club.

Big Hit and UMG officials voiced hope that the partnership will help both companies and their artists to better communicate with their fans.

"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," said Big Hit founder and chief Bang Si-hyuk. "In this sense, I strongly believe that UMG and Big Hit will create a synergy that will rewrite the global music history."

"With their innovative approach to developing artists and embracing new technology, Big Hit has become one of the most dynamic companies in music entertainment," said UMG Chairman Sir Lucian Grainge, "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."

This screenshot, provided by Big Hit Entertainment and Universal Music Group on Feb. 18, 2021, shows (in clockwise, from top left) Big Hit Chairman and CEO Bang Si-hyuk; Universal Music Group Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge; John Janick, chairman & CEO at Interscope Geffen A&M; and Lenzo Yoon, CEO of Global & Business at Big Hit Entertainment. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The latest announcement is part of an ongoing move for music agency-labels to forge partnerships and strengthen their own platforms.

Earlier this month, UMG and YG Entertainment -- another K-pop powerhouse that is home to girl group BLACKPINK -- announced plans to invest in KBYK Live, a joint venture established by Big Hit and U.S. streaming service provider Kiswe.

The three companies said the partnership is anticipated to help them showcase their artists as well as a range of musicians on VenewLive, a streaming platform powered by KBYK Live.

Big Hit, meanwhile, has also been moving to expand its artist portfolio by acquiring smaller agencies or setting up joint ventures. Through multiple deals, the agency-label has built up a multi-label company that represents singers like Seventeen, G-Friend and Enhypen.

Thursday's announcement was also streamed through VenewLive.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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