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[FULL TRANSCRIPT] Big Hit-Universal Music Group launches strategic partnership


Big Hit Entertainment, the powerhouse of global K-pop sensation BTS, and the world’s biggest music corporation Universal Music Group is partnering up to expand their foothold in the global entertainment industry.

The two firms announced on Thursday morning the establishment of a joint venture that will oversee the launching of a new K-pop boy band on the global stage. The group is set to debut through an audition program set to be aired globally in 2022.

UMG CEO Lucian Grainge, UMG affiliate Geffen A&M Records CEO John Janick, Big Hit Entertainment’s founder Bang Si-hyuk and its global CEO Lenzo Yoon released details in an announcement video on Thursday morning.

Here is the full script of the announcement on the UMG-Big Hit partnership. 


Lucian Grainge / CEO & Chairman of UMG

Today will mark the beginning of a new chapter in music history. Today‘s announcement has three key elements.

First, the establishment of new joint venture between Geffen Records, one of our flagship labels, and Big Hit Entertainment for the launch of brand new global artist project.

Second, a collaboration in which we will utilize Big Hit’s newly created platforms and technology to enhance our artists‘ connections with their fans around the world.

Third, an enhanced fan and artist experience. I’m particularly excited about this partnership because of the success of our companies have been built on a foundation of shared values -- including an ethic of mutual respect with artists, an expertise in connecting with fans, and our ability to leverage technology to build global entertainment brands that transcend music.

Big Hit Entertainment Chairman and CEO Si-hyuk Bang and Global CEO Lenzo Yoon bring innovative perspective on the incredible growth of opportunities of the entertainment business today. I can‘t wait to see what an amazing music and entertainment the partnership between our companies will bring. Thank you very much.


Bang Si-hyuk / CEO & Chairman of Big Hit Entertainment

Thank you very much Lucian.

The Universal Music Group is a global entertainment industry leader with a foundation in music. It is one of the most influential firms that includes the world’s top labels. Lucian, who made UMG what it is today, is without a doubt one of the industry‘s top innovators. Establishing a joint venture and carrying out various global projects with such group is truly an honor.

The UMG’s influence as well as expertise accumulated in the world music market, coupled with Big Hit Entertainment‘s pioneering ideas and innovation will enable previously unimaginable feats.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Lucian and Lenzo, who played key roles in making this strategic partnership agreement a reality.

I strongly believe that UMG and Big Hit, two companies that endlessly pursued innovation, will create a synergy that will rewrite global music history.


Lenzo Yoon / Global CEO of Big Hit Entertainment

That’s right. I am extremely excited just by the thought of the future Big Hit and UMG will usher in together.

First of all, I would like to delve deeper into the global artist debut project that Lucian mentioned earlier.

We are planning to debut a new boy group in partnership with UMG for the global stage. We will select the members by holding a global audition. We are aiming to air this audition program in partnership with a US media partner in 2022.

Big Hit will be in charge of discovering and training artists, fan content production, and communication with fans through Weverse. UMG will be in charge of music production and global distribution utilizing their powerful local network.

Music fans the world over will be able to experience the birth of an unprecedented group that brings together world-leading capabilities.

A joint venture headquartered in Los Angeles will serve as the label overseeing the new group. Big Hit will work closely with UMG through Big Hit America, our US arm.

The significance of this project as an application of the winning formula that Big Hit Entertainment has established over the past 16 years in the US, the center of the global music market, cannot be overstated.

The global artists that will debut through this project will follow the K-pop system. K-pop is full-production, and includes music, performance, fashion, music videos, and engagement with fans.

This is a new challenge for both UMG and Big Hit Entertainment. The result will transcend the partnership between the two companies and the combination of two industries to become the fusion of cultures.

I hope that this path, that will be pioneered by our two companies, will bear witness to a brand new opportunity for the music industry. And we will be joined in this amazing achievement by John Janick, CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, a key part of UMG‘s multi-label universe that will play a pivotal role in our project.


John Janick / CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M Records

Thank you so much Lenzo. We’re all incredibly excited about this joint venture project between UMG‘s Geffen Records and Big Hit.

Personally, I’m particularly excited about the fact that we‘re engaging two leading global entertainment companies that each represent the east and west.

For our part, Geffen Records has a rich history of legendary artists who have had such a strong impact on musical culture over the past 40 years. Artists like Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Avicii to just name a few, as well as breakthrough artists like Olivia Rodrigo, all of whom are widely popular to this day.

In short, this project offers both of us an incredible opportunity to learn from one another, to challenge one another, and to help shape the next stage of one another‘s evolution. We couldn’t ask for a better partner. 


(From top left, clockwise) Big Hit Entertainment founder and CEO Bang Si-hyuk, UMG CEO and Chairman Lucian Grainge, Geffen A&M Records CEO John Janick, and Big Hit Entertainment global CEO Lenzo Yoon speak in the announcement video released on Feb. 18, 2021. (Big Hit Entertainment/Universal Music Group)
(From top left, clockwise) Big Hit Entertainment founder and CEO Bang Si-hyuk, UMG CEO and Chairman Lucian Grainge, Geffen A&M Records CEO John Janick, and Big Hit Entertainment global CEO Lenzo Yoon speak in the announcement video released on Feb. 18, 2021. (Big Hit Entertainment/Universal Music Group)

Lucian Grainge / CEO & Chairman of UMG

That‘s right John. I’d like to touch on some of the details on how we intend to work together with digital platforms under this partnership.

At UMG, we strive every day to be at the forefront of innovation. We have long recognized that technology has the potential to offer benefits to artists and fans. In fact, that means working to help support new platforms and business models that connect artists and their music to fans in new and compelling ways.

Big Hit shares this vision. They‘re an ideal partner for us.

By working together, we will offer our artists new methods of dynamic communication with their fans, a new livestreaming experiences both through Weverse -- the fan community platform -- and through VenewLive -- the digital livestreaming platform.

We’ve already seen the benefits of having Gracie Abrams and New Hope Club actively engaging with their fans through their Weverse communities. Other artists, such as Alexander 23 and Young Blood, will soon be joining the platform. And I‘m sure many more of our artists will be joining them on Weverse.

Finally, at a time when virtual concerts have become the new normal, we look forward to showcasing curative performances from our artists through VenewLive, using the best-in technology and interactive experiences.


Lenzo Yoon / Global CEO Big Hit Entertainment

I, too, am very much looking forward to Weverse and VenewLive that will grow together with UMG’s artists.

Today, global fans from 200 countries and regions come together to communicate with artists on Weverse, making it a true “global mega fandom platform.”

Not only do artist and fans engage through this platform, but fans watch media content and purchase merchandise.

More features are in the works for Weverse. The goal of all of this is to expand the experience of “fans,” the most important entities in the music industry.

At Big Hit, we are always thinking about new fun and convenient ways fans can communicate with artists and enjoy their content. To these ideas, we apply today‘s most cutting-edge technologies. I believe Weverse and VenewLive share the same goals.

With distancing part of the new normal, communication and content delivery have become more important than ever in the global music market.

We aim to drive the development of the platform industry that this new era demands. It is our singular honor that UMG has become our companion in this journey. We will continue to craft a global-standard platform that is open not just to our artists, but any artist who wishes to take part.


Lucian Grainge / CEO & Chairman of UMG

We’re incredibly excited to get this started.

UMG is deeply committed to the mission Lenzo mentioned: “advancing music through innovation.”

We‘re certain that together, this great partnership built on the shared foundation of innovation will help shape the next great era for music, benefiting artists and fans alike.


Bang Si-hyuk / CEO & Chairman of Big Hit Entertainment

Our two companies indeed have many things in common, from our pursuit of innovation to our commitment to providing our fans with genuine music and content of the highest and uncompromising level of quality.

I hope you will look forward to our new adventure in the global market that Big Hit and UMG will shape together.


Lucian Grainge / CEO & Chairman of UMG

As you heard today, we’re aiming for nothing less than helping to shape the future of music globally, to the benefit of artists and fans alike.


Lenzo Yoon / Global CEO Big Hit Entertainment

It is with a profound sense of responsibility thta we reveal to you our vision that we have long discussed together. At the same time, it also invigorates us with new strength.

We will strive to secure competitive platform leadership and develop a top group of artists through the close partnership between our two companies, working together to enable K-pop to transcend all border and languages.

We look forward to your interest and support.

By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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