K-pop sensation BTS has officially ditched Sony Music Entertainment’s Columbia Records and signed a deal with Universal Music Group.
Hybe, Big Hit Music, and BTS – which remains extremely popular, if ticket sales, earnings reports, and special music releases are any indication – just recently announced the switch. The seven-piece act’s much-streamed Map of the Soul: 7 and Be efforts released with support from Columbia last year, and the UMG deal’s (undoubtedly substantial) financial specifics haven’t yet been publicly revealed.
But the agreement arrives on the heels of several high-profile collaborations between the publicly traded Universal Music Group and Hybe (which rebranded from Big Hit Entertainment in Q1 2021). February of 2021 saw the companies collaborate to launch a livestream platform called VenewLive, for instance, and the development was followed soon thereafter by an “expanded strategic partnership.”
This decidedly ambitious joint venture included a goal of broadening “the global reach of K-pop music and culture around the world,” the involved parties specified, with UMG acts utilizing the “enhanced ‘direct to fan’ communications” of Hybe’s WeVerse. Additionally, the companies established a joint-venture label in Los Angeles and outlined plans to form “a new global K-pop boy group.”
Regarding the circumstances surrounding the search for the K-pop stars of tomorrow, BTS received a (controversial) deferment from South Korea’s mandatory 18-month military service in late 2020. Enabling the group’s members to delay enlisting until their respective 30th birthdays, the temporary exemption will keep BTS intact until Jin turns 30 in December of 2022.
Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see how BTS and Hybe (which in April bought Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings for north of $1 billion) respond and adapt to this hurdle as well as the other membership shakeups that will subsequently arrive from military-service obligations.
Universal Music Group stock (UMG on the Euronext Amsterdam) finished the day at an even €25.00 per share ($29.13 at the present exchange rate) – a small gain from the previous close – while Hybe shares (KRX: 352820) experienced a more than 1.5 percent dip, resting at 325,000 KRW/$276 when the market closed.
Lastly, Universal Music, which signed an exclusive record deal with Andrea Bocelli about one week ago, is scheduled to release its Q3 2021 earnings report this coming Wednesday, October 27th – the same day that Spotify’s third-quarter performance analysis will become publicly available.