It’s only the second month of 2020 and a lot of events have already happened, in addition to records being broken by BTS. Time flies so fast these days that we often lose track of the time and space we are living in. Change is inevitable and believe it or not, Big Hit Entertainment - the powerhouse music label behind BTS and rookie boy group TXT, which was founded in 2005 by CEO Mr. Bang Sihyuk, has been going through many changes since their first Corporate Briefing with the Community, in August, last year. Before the briefing, Big Hit had invited fans to register to attend in person; however, because of the Coronavirus outbreak, it ended up a private event instead of a public one.
CEO Yoon Seok-Jun at Big Hit Corporate Briefing 2020 in Seoul
The briefing took place on February 4th, 2020 at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul with co-CEOs Mr. Bang Sihyuk and Mr. Yoon Seokjun (in some news articles his name’s written as Lenzo Yoon), Mr. Choi Yoon Hyuk, Vice President of BELIFT, Mr. So Sung Jin, President of Source Music, Mr. Shin Young Jae, Vice President of Big Hit Labels, Mr. Kim Dong Joon, CEO of Big Hit Three Sixty, Mr. Seo Wooseok, CEO of BenX (in some articles he’s called Steve Seo) and others.
Mr. Bang started the briefing with the Community by saying “Everyone who's watching this, please stay safe.” Then he talked about the profits and revenues generated by the company in 2019. They generated 587.9 billion Won ($495.2 million USD) in revenue and 97.5 billion Won ($82 million USD) in operating profit, slightly missing the consensus of 100 billion Won. Compared to last year, the figures doubled thanks to the company diversifying their business models such as tours, intellectual property and online platforms.
Over the last year, Big Hit has been working on solidifying their vision, which, according to Mr. Bang, includes creating a "Big Hit winning formula." He talked about his ambition by recalling what he said in 2016 about creating a system where successes could be repeated. He added that if this formula proved successful, that is, becoming the de facto standard for the industry, then artists would be able to "happily pursue their dreams and nurture their talents," fans would be treated right as customers and the people in the industry would be able to "work with pride."
Since 2018, music critics and business experts have been curious about Big Hit and Korean entertainment powerhouse CJ ENM’s collaboration to debut a new boy band. Mr. Choi Yoon Hyuk, Vice President of BELIFT, talked about this in his presentation. He said that the new boy group would be multinational and debut in 2020; this is also BELIFT’s first project. The aim of this project is to make K-Pop (Korean Pop) mainstream and transplant the training system into the global market.
Mr. Shin Young Jae, Vice President of Big Hit Labels, announced in brief that a new boy group would debut in 2022. Likewise, in his presentation, Source Music’s President So Sung Jin talked about the new girl group that would debut in 2021 post the Plus Global Audition, in collaboration with Chief Brand Officer (CBO) Min Hee Jin. He added that after their label’s acquisition by Big Hit, they are aiming to be “No.1 girl group label” with GFriend as the first artist.
Regarding the international fan community app Weverse, Mr. Yoon said that based on various attempts in different areas, Big Hit will take a modular approach in their business model to go beyond Big Hit Labels and collaborate with artists from Korea and abroad. As the first example of this, SEVENTEEN, a boy group from Pledis Entertainment, will join Weverse in early 2020.
Big Hit Entertainment’s aim has always been consistent since its establishment in 2005 and that is “Music for Artist and Healing.” As fans are the center of Big Hit’s business, the company continues to focus on innovating fans’ experience by reducing inconsistencies and showcasing quality content.
Co-CEO Mr. Yoon talked about expanding the “play zone” to other world tour venues, which many ARMYs across the world saw in the last three SPEAK YOURSELF concerts in Korea through videos recorded by fans who attended. A “tour village” would also be established at tour stops and consisting of BTS themed hotel, pop-up store, exhibition, special food and beverage, and additional local tours in concert cities.
In addition, one of the most common complaints of ARMYs is that the costs of merchandise are always expensive. To lessen this discomfort, Big Hit will establish localized delivery systems in the United States and Japan so that merch can be sold in the same way as in Korea. In the upcoming Map of the Soul World Tour, Big Hit will work with the stage design team STUFISH, who have previously worked with artists like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, U2, Jay-Z, to give fans an enriching concert experience.
Another exciting thing to come out of this briefing is the Korean TV drama (K-Drama) based on Bangtan/BTS Universe (for new ARMYs: since 2015’s I NEED U music video, BTS has established a storyline which is being told through different media, just like how Marvel and Star Wars have done this for a long time). Big Hit is working with Chorokbaem Media - the producer behind popular TV dramas, such as My Mister, W, Memories of Alhambra, Another Miss Oh, and Oh My Ghost, & writer Kim Sujin (Dazzling) on this coming-of-age drama, which will come out in either the second half of 2020 or first half of 2021.
Mr. Bang also mentioned the release of the sequel to HYYH Notes 1, but didn’t reveal any specific date. The plan to release graphic lyric books of HYYH album songs with beautiful illustrations was also announced. Last but not least, ARMYs can finally look forward to studying Korean through the launch of Korean learning program “Learn Korean with BTS,” which will roll out in March.
Just like last year’s briefing, Mr. “Hitman” Bang showed his ambitious side by revealing the many plans the company wants to actualize. It’s no surprise that tremendous behind-the-scene planning and execution goes into creating quality content for the customers or fans. The fans are obviously both excited and overwhelmed by all the new information revealed through the briefing. On paper, Big Hit’s plans appear innovative and refreshing since audiences are craving for original content and experience, but on the other hand, one can’t help but wonder: is Big Hit Entertainment feeding into the customers’ materialistic needs by going above and beyond with their business plans? ARMYs are well aware of the fact that Big Hit Entertainment as a company is not perfect, but one thing is clear: as long as the music label is committed to their vision and their artists are satisfied, the trust will be there.
Written by: Anugya
Edited by: Ren
Designed by: Connie
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