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FutureStarrFrom BTS to TXT: HYBE's Chairman Shares His Vision For K-Pop's Expansion
Are You a K-pop Fan? Recently, BTS' manager and label HYBE purchased SM Entertainment, marking a significant step in their ongoing battle for control of this landmark talent agency which pioneered K-pop internationally. Bang Si-hyuk, the founder of HYBE Entertainment Group, believes this move was necessary in order to strengthen K-pop's global impact. In a March speech he laid out three steps aimed at reinforcing its future. Bang Si Hyuk’s Vision for K-pop’s Expansion Bang Si Hyuk, CEO of HYBE and Chairman of BTS's music label, offered his vision for K-pop's future to CNN in an interview. His three-pronged plan included acquiring foreign companies like Quality Control as well as implementing healthy management techniques into his plans to ensure its global prominence and sustainability into the future. Though K-pop remains immensely popular, Korea's exports of K-pop music have actually decreased since 2020; K-pop consumption in Southeast Asia has also seen significant decrease. As part of its effort to expand the industry, HYBE's billionaire founder has pledged to make additional acquisitions this year. His goals include buying into top-tier Latin music record labels as well as US brands with promising producers. Bang is also looking for companies that provide talent and infrastructure necessary for the growth of new artists, like fan platforms that expand K-pop acts' reach while reinvigorating dormant fans to rediscover them as powerful drivers of growth, he explained. Bang strives to foster an environment in which artists can focus on developing rather than being promoted as entertainment celebrities. He sees artist development as a competitive advantage within the industry as it prioritizes respect and growth over just becoming entertainers. K-pop companies only account for a relatively minor part of the global music industry at present; their share only amounts to approximately two percent compared to Universal Music Group, Sony, and Warner Music which all account for 15-30%. To be competitive in the global music market, cultural products must strike a balance between uniqueness and universality. Leveraging this principle to create K-pop artists who can adapt to various cultures worldwide is one way of keeping cultural products viable. Bang is firm in his belief that artists who put an emphasis on personal growth and development are best prepared to face the current challenges facing K-pop artists. Furthermore, he sees sustainability in K-pop as dependent on having multiple talented individuals working across several areas such as music production, sound engineering and choreography. Bang Si Hyuk’s Vision for K-pop’s Sustainability Bang Si Hyuk, founder and chairman of HYBE and its subsidiary SM Entertainment, shares his vision for K-pop's expansion. His focus lies in its distinctive qualities - multi-member single-gender groups being at its heart. Bang is determined to bring K-pop music and culture to a worldwide audience, expanding its impact and globalization. He believes K-pop could become the next Google, and now is the time for it to take its rightful place within the global music industry. He believes K-pop could become a cultural export, providing economic benefits to Korea. He cautions that K-pop industry does not escape the challenges posed by global markets, and should instead concentrate on building its strengths rather than competing with global giants such as major US labels. Bang Si Hyuk shared his views at a keynote speech delivered at the Kwanhun Club forum on March 15. He spoke of the sustainability and international expansion potential of K-pop industry, saying it had made progress, yet still had significant hurdles to cross. As first noted by Mr. Kim, K-pop growth rates in certain Southeast Asian countries had begun to slow. He attributed this phenomenon to BTS taking time off since last year in order to complete their mandatory military service obligations. He also warned of an uneven expansion in the global music market, citing Billboard charts showing K-pop albums charted fewer songs in 2022 compared to 2021 and that growth rates for exports from K-pop have decreased in the United States. SM Entertainment and HYBE Labels Chairman also shared his plans for positioning both companies. He stated his desire to utilize HYBE's expertise in managing and producing acts composed of multiple members rather than solo artists or mixed-gender groups; as well as build a business similar to Disney which owns and operates its catalog of intellectual properties. Bang Si Hyuk’s Vision for K-pop’s Globalization Bang Si Hyuk, founder of HYBE (formerly Big Hit Entertainment), has an ambitious plan for K-pop's globalization. He advocates using "cultural technology" when exporting music and artistic content - this allows the product to stand out while remaining accessible for users worldwide. He advocates that K-pop should become more accessible to fans by making music more available in local languages. He notes this move as being integral in forging stronger bonds between idols and their audiences. K-pop may already be an enormous global phenomenon, yet much work remains before achieving lasting popularity. That is why Bang is so passionate about his vision for K-pop's internationalization. To achieve this goal, he has invested in various industries that offer him opportunities to make money while capitalizing on his artists' fans' passions. From gaming and technology companies to strategic partnerships with global record labels and management giants, he's constantly looking for new ways to diversify his business model while simultaneously improving lives. Bang's aim is to turn HYBE into one of the world's leading entertainment companies - an ambitious goal who sits atop Forbes Billionaires list with an estimated net worth estimated at US$3 billion. He recognizes this is a high-risk bet in an economic climate of instability, and consults his mentors who warn against taking such steps during these uncertain times. He predicts that K-pop will continue its steady rise over time, yet may struggle to match other industries' phenomenal expansion such as tech and gaming. Furthermore, album sales and revenue in some key K-pop markets has recently begun declining. To counter this decline, he plans to invest in the U.S. market by working with American companies to form K-pop groups capable of auditioning in America. According to him, having both Korean and American expertise working together will give these groups all they need for success. Bang Si Hyuk’s Vision for K-pop’s Multi-label Structure Bang Si Hyuk, founder of Big Hit Entertainment (HYBE's parent company) in 2005 and later known as HYBE Entertainment Group CEO is an individual of vision. He oversaw BTS' debut and subsequent global career; earning them Top Social Artist awards while touring stadiums around the world. As BTS's leader, Bang is also responsible for cultivating new artists. According to him, BTS's Training & Development organization will focus on discovering talented individuals before working with them to hone their craft and produce music that fans will appreciate. He suggests that K-pop needs a multi-label structure in order to grow. Such an arrangement will allow labels to work in healthy competition, leading to creativity and streamlining operations more effectively. Distribution is key to creating a thriving entertainment industry and major distributors are currently responsible for most K-pop record and album sales worldwide. They possess extensive networks and may negotiate favorable deals with K-pop labels for reduced rates. This is especially important in the U.S., where streaming services account for an increasing percentage of album sales. If K-pop artists want to compete against these large companies, however, they need a local infrastructure and partner to enable seamless music distribution. Another key element in reaching this goal is creating original local music. To do so, Korean producers can collaborate with foreign talent in producing original tunes. However, this strategy does not always produce favorable results. Circle Chart analyst Kim Jin-woo points out an example of an unsuccessful girl group formation through a joint audition program between Sony Music Japan and JYP that now consists of nine Japanese members performing mostly within Japan. Though K-pop is already widely popular worldwide, there remains room for further development. K-pop's music exports experienced slower growth last year compared to previous years due to lack of economies of scale in certain markets that could impede expansion; additionally, this music genre may become less related to Korean identity over time.