HYBE and Universal Music Group Collaboration to Enhance Artist-to-Fan Experience Announced in 2021

Big Hit Entertainment and Universal Music Group

On February 17, 2021, HYBE (at the time, known as BigHit Entertainment) and Universal Music Group (UMG) announced that they are planning a strategic collaboration to provide more opportunities for artists of both companies. Here’s all you need to know about the HYBE and Universal Music Group collaboration.

Details about the HYBE and Universal Music Group Strategic Collaboration

In a global press conference, the two companies revealed that they have plans for both companies to work closely together in the future. The four major players of both companies are Bang Si-Hyuk (Chairman and CEO of HYBE), Lenzo Yoon (CEO of Global and Business at HYBE), Sir Lucian Grainge (the Chairman and CEO of UMG), and John Janick (the Chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M). They hope to expand music across all borders. 

This collaboration can provide artists from both companies access to technologies and opportunities to connect to their fanbase. With K-pop idols’ success in connecting with their fans, UMG artists will grow their fanbase through HYBE’s Weverse, a global platform dedicated to fans’ and artists’ interactions. Similar to Twitter and Instagram, Weverse will enable American artists to share content and merchandise directly with their fans. Some UMG artists have already been using Weverse, such as Gracie Abrams, New Hope Club, and Yungblud. In the upcoming months, UMG officials say that more waves of artists will join the platform. 

The collaboration announcement came out days after UMG took part in investing in KBYK’s VenewLive premium live-streaming platform. HYBE, YG Entertainment, and Kiswe are other investors. 

New K-pop Debut

A large part of this collaboration between HYBE and Universal Music Group is the debut of a new K-pop boy group in 2022. Geffen Records, owned by UMG, will work closely with HYBE on this debut. The new K-pop group will debut under the JV label, a joint project between HYBE and Geffen Records. 

Both companies envision the group to be a “global” K-pop ensemble. Members of the group will be chosen through a global audition program, similar to that of MNET’s Produce 101 and HYBE’s first project, I-Land. ENHYPEN, the group that came out of I-Land, saw immediate popularity after the show ended. Their debut album entered the music charts in Korea, Japan, and the United States. The HYBE and Geffen global audition program for a girl group was first opened November 3, 2021.


HYBE will use its innovative management skills and outreach and take charge of discovering talent. After the debut, HYBE will also be in charge of the group’s activities. Geffen Records will work with US media to produce the global audition program. The audition show will air on major US networks and HYBE will still take part in the production of the group when it comes to music, clothing, music video, etc. The group will still have the essence of K-pop that fans love. This is a major accomplishment for Hallyu because the program will be spread Korean culture and entertainment across the U.S and the world.

Why is this Global Collaboration between HYBE and Global Music Group Happening? 

It was only a matter of time before the South Korean powerhouse finally makes its mark in the US music industry. While BTS was signed with Columbia Records to begin with, they’re now signed to Univseral Music Group, the music powerhouse in the US. It is home to notable K-pop acts such as IU, GOT7, SHINee, and Momoland. The collaboration will help expand K-pop even further than it already is. 

In the global press release, HYBE’s CEO Bang Si Hyuk explains his thoughts on the collaboration: “Our two companies indeed share values and visions in that we both pursue constant innovations,” he says. “And are committed to providing our fans with genuine music and content of the highest and uncompromising level of quality.” Sir Lucian Grainge of Universal Music Group added that this partnership will bring K-pop into the mainstream with the hope of making it breaking barriers such as borders and language. 

Background on HYBE

Aside from being the home of the Grammy-nominated group, BTS, and the new generation group TXT, HYBE is also a successful and expanding business. At the beginning of February 2021, Naver announced that it would invest $371 million USD into Weverse Company Inc. In addition to the investment, Never and HYBE also planned on merging the VLIVE platform with Weverse to create a new fanbase platform. Though the platforms haven’t merged as of yet, in January of 2022, the information has been shifted from Naver to Weverse (they’re saying that VLIVE won’t actually shut down or be moved to Weverse, so that’s good news for a lot of fans who worried their idols’ past videos would disappear).

HYBE also invested $63 million USD into its rival company, YG Entertainment. They hope this will bring in collaborations and opportunities for both their artists in the future.

Background on Universal Music Group and Geffen Records

UMG is home to popular American artists such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and many more. They are one of the leading entertainment companies with business expansion across the globe in more than 60 countries. They provide music production, merchandising, tour management, and many other services for their artists and fans. 

Geffen Records is home to some of the most iconic faces in music like Cher, Aerosmith, Elton John. Some newer artists include Avicii and Olivia Rodrigo, the singer behind the viral break-up song, “Driver’s License.”

The Future of K-pop

With the growth of everything from 2020 and 2021, it’s obvious that K-pop doesn’t have to stay in South Korea anymore. Thanks to HYBE and Universal Music Group, K-pop and the Korean culture have expanded on a global scale. In the very near future, we can probably expect the K-pop section at the music store to be just as big as all the other genres. 

You can watch the video of the press conference by HYBE and Universal Music Group collaboration below.


To learn more on Kpop, watch the video below!

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