Korean Giant & BTS Backer Hybe Corp Has Its Eye On The U.S.

In a bold reaction to market trends, Korean entertainment powerhouse HYBE Corporation — best known as the home of K-Pop superstars BTS — is more bullish than ever, expanding out of its core record label, talent management and concert production business into several other areas, and now bills itself as a global entertainment lifestyle platform.

The company’s innovative strength has been in reimagining its artists — which also include Tomorrow X Together, ENHYPEN, Lee Hyun and Nana — as intellectual property that can be monetized across a range of platforms, including social media, live streaming, gaming, education, webtoons, and film and TV content. Its activities span fan-driven social media and e-commerce platform Weverse Company, which recently took over Naver Corp’s live-streaming app V Live; a tie-up with cloud-streaming platform Kiswe for a virtual BTS tour; and a deal with Disney that sees the company’s docs and reality shows, such as BTS Monuments: Beyond the Star and In the Soop: Friendcation, distributed on Disney+ worldwide.

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In 2021, HYBE merged with a similarly tech-minded music giant — Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings — in a $1 billion deal that places BTS in the same stable as heavyweights Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. Ithaca’s subsidiary SB Projects has already launched a concert film featuring Bieber, a beauty business built around Grande and the TV drama Scorpion on CBS. More recently, HYBE also acquired Quality Control, the hip-hop powerhouse behind Lil Baby, Lil Yachty, City Girls and Migos.

HYBE chairman Bang Si-Hyuk has stated that the company has its sights set on further U.S. acquisitions, a reaction to what he has described as a “very clear slowdown in growth” for K-Pop globally. Among other headwinds, the seven members of BTS are currently on a break while some of them complete their mandatory military service, plus the company recently lost out on a controlling stake in Korean rival SM Entertainment in a corporate battle eventually won by Korean internet giant Kakao. But HYBE weathered the collapse of live concert revenues during the pandemic by expanding across multiple platforms and is likely to have more tricks up its sleeve as it continues its global expansion.

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