Dear Gossips, 

Probably most of you know about Universal Music Group (UMG), considered to be the biggest music company in the world. If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you may be getting more familiar with Big Hit Entertainment, the biggest music company out of South Korea, known for producing BTS, the biggest band in the world. Big Hit went public last year, making the band shareholders in the company. Yesterday UMG and Big Hit announced an expanded partnership that involves UMG investing more resources and artists into Weverse, Big Hit’s in-house social media platform, that generates activity from millions of users from around the world every day, particularly when BTS is up to something. And a major part of the new deal is the formation of a new label, based in Los Angeles, and in collaboration with Geffen Records, one of UMG’s labels, which is currently enjoying the breakout success of Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license”. That new label will oversee the creation of a new K-pop boy band. Global auditions will be held in search for the members, the process will be broadcast with a major media partner…based in the United States. And this is the part that really caught my attention in the press release:


“The debuting global act will work based on the K-pop system — a full production that combines music, performance, fashion, music video and communications with fans.”

They’re putting together a new group, in the west, but using K-pop methods. Not surprising in this case because of the undeniable success of BTS and obviously they’re hoping to capture lightning in a bottle again. This is fascinating to me – the fact that they’re bringing an entertainment philosophy conceived and practised in Korea, an entirely different culture, over to the west. And how that will play. 

Last year Big Hit produced a boy group show called I-Land which was available to stream internationally on Viki. I watched a few episodes and while there are similarities here and there with western-based talent search shows, the at-times gruelling process behind the scenes is not what we typically see in the west. The competition is fierce, exhausting, and the criticism is TOUGH. But it’s also SO impressive, the quality of the training and the performances and the heart and soul of all the people involved, from the hopefuls to the judges. They show moments of vulnerability and insecurity, frustration, and of course a lot of kindness and bonding, which was the major draw for me – seeing these aspiring entertainers, competing with each other for a limited amount of spots, building and sometimes breaking trust, these young men showing their sensitivities and emotions in a way that isn’t often seen in western pop culture. I don’t know how much they’ll adapt the content to western audiences but if they keep it the way it was on I-Land, seeing the reaction from the North American audience will a conversation unto itself. 

For more on the UMG/Big Hit partnership, click here.

Yours in gossip,