Big Hit Entertainment and Blockbuster Band BTS: K-Pop Goes Global
Bang Si-Hyuk ('Hitman Bang') is the founder and co-chief executive officer of Big Hit Entertainment, the company behind BTS, a 'K-pop' band that has found unparalleled success around the globe-a remarkable feat given that most of their songs are in Korean. It is March 1, 2020. With its latest album, the band has now scored its fourth chart-topping album in the U.S. in less than two years. The band's popularity has been extremely lucrative: by some estimates, the BTS ecosystem accounts for a staggering $4.9 billion of South Korea's GDP. While K-pop has been dominated by three large companies-SM, YG, and JYP-since the mid-1990s, BTS Bang arguably has created a K-pop phenomenon that is more global than any act the 'big three' have ever overseen. And whereas K-pop is traditionally associated with long-term, exclusive contracts between companies and their acts that pay the talent relatively modestly and give them little control, Bang seeks to foster a more balanced relationship with his superstar act. Is BTS well-positioned to sustain its success? Can Big Hit replicate that success with the select few other acts in its portfolio? And what does that say about the future of K-pop, and the manner in which music companies will manage the relationships with their talent?