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Big Hit x Universal Group Joint Venture to Find Next BTS: What It Means for K-Pop's Global Outreach Updated: 2021-02-25 17:14:30 KST

The company behind South Korean boy band BTS is teaming with Universal Music Group to find the next K-Pop sensation through a global audition program that is expected air in the United States in 2022.

Big Hit Entertainment said the project was to find, develop and train the new K-Pop boy band by applying Big Hit's success formula established over the past 16 years to the U.S. - the center of the global music market.

Universal Music Group released a statement saying that the joint venture will further accelerate K-Pop as a global cultural phenomenon.

Wanted: New K-pop band, American style OR is just American Idol trained the K-pop way? Regardless, let’s talk about it. I have live in the in the studio Bernie Cho.
Bernie is President of DFSB Kollective, one of the first and foremost K-pop music exporters, with more than two decades of culture creation experience in the Asian music, television, and pop culture industries.

Bernie, great to have you back on News In-depth.

So, we heard this news that Big Hit will launch a joint venture label with UMG’s Geffen Records to launch a new boy band and team up with a media partner in the U.S. to produce an audition program through which the members will be selected this is expected to take the airwaves next year.
Now, just a few days earlier, these UMG made an announcement that it had partnered with South Korean labels YG Entertainment and Big Hit Entertainment to invest in a livestreaming platform.
Let's first talk about the UMG, Big Hit JV. This says volumes of how much Big Hit has come in terms of its global success as Geffen records now they were behind the success of world-renowned artists like Nirvana, Guns N Roses, Elton John…
What does this mean in terms of K-pop’s popularity overseas? How is this deal different from any past deals that other Korean entertainment companies have struck in overseas market?

The two companies also said that they would work closely together to increase opportunities for artists through innovation and technology while expanding the global reach of K-pop around the world.
What kind of a role can a giant music label such as UMG play for future K-pop artists planning to tap into not only the Korean market but other markets around the world?

The format through which the new band will be selected has echoes of "American Idol," the popular TV reality show that holds nationwide auditions for a new pop star and whose winner gets a recording contract in the U.S. Similar audition format shows have been quite popular here in Korea as well with top entertainment companies like JYP and YG having aired shows of such format.
But, what set the Korean version apart is that a lot of behind the scenes - from personal stories to rigorous training in dance, singing and even language sessions - are aired on the show.
It's not as common in the U.S. to show how pop groups operate behind the scenes.
What do you see as some of the benefits of idol stars who launched their careers under similar format with opportunities to gather fans even before they officially make their debut?

How do you expect it to be received by American as well as global viewers?

According to Big Hit, this band that signs the contract will debut in the U.S., but follow the K-Pop system in terms of music, performance, and fashion among others. Essentially, it's a new K-pop band in the U.S.
How could Big Hit Entertainment contribute as the other party of this deal, with their experience from the success of BTS in overcoming language barrier to the broader audience and engaging with global fans with content productions?

Now, UMG not only signed a deal to produce a new boy band with Big Hit, but also has become an investor of VenewLive platform, where fans can watch live-streamed concerts in the comfort of their own home.
The past year has proved to be difficult for the artists around the world to perform live concerts with audience due to the global pandemic, and many are opting to perform instead in online concerts … BTS, Blackpink, and other prominent K-pop artists are no exception.

BTS set its new Guinness record for ‘most viewers for a music concert live-stream’ with its concert last October, gathering 993-thousand viewers from 191 countries.
How is the global music industry faring the pandemic?
What are some of the most notable changes?

Advanced technology is also providing us the opportunity to enjoy the ultimate fan experience with multi view, 4K, live chat, the K-pop light sticks
How is technology bridging the gap between fans and artists?

Speaking of communicating with fans, Big Hit owns its own fan communications platform called 'WeVerse.' Fans can use WeVerse to engage, share, interact, and purchase new products.
UMG announced that more artists will be featured in Big Hit's WeVerse platform, in addition to currently featured UMG artists, Gracie Abrahams, New Hope Club and Alexander 23.
WeVerse has been growing in size it recently partnered up with the live stream platform of Naver, one of biggest online platform. How would staying connected with your favorite artist or from the artist's perspective with your fans on such a platform be different from say on social media like Twitter, Instagram or Youtube Live?

Bernie Cho, as always, many thanks for sharing your insights with us. We appreciate it.
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