Two of South Korea’s most prominent entertainment companies are joining together to create a new K-pop venture. Big Hit Entertainment, the label behind history-making septet BTS and CJ E&M, the entertainment leg of the CJ conglomerate announced that they look to launch a new company together. Tentatively named Belief, its aim will be to discover and hone talent.
The duo has reportedly recently submitted their plan for Belief to the South Korean Fair Trade Commission. The joint venture is meant to develop new artists based on the joint experiences and expertise of Big Hit and CJ E&M. It will have a starting capital of 7 billion KRW, roughly $6.3 million USD, with 52% of shares controlled by CJ E&M and 48% held by Big Hit.
Belief is reportedly planning to host an audition program to nurture musical talent from around the globe.
As one of the largest South Korean entertainment entities, CJ E&M has an immense reach in both the local and international music industry. Not only does it operate several music agencies under its Stone Music Entertainment wing and manage multiple prominent Korean artists, but it’s cable television channel Mnet has produced some of South Korea’s most popular stars through its Superstar K and Produce 101 star search competition series. They have resulted in the careers of popular South Korean stars including Busker Busker, Seo In-guk, Wanna One and I.O.I. CJ E&M also operates the Korean pop culture oriented event KCON, which hosts K-pop conventions and music festivals around the globe including two annual Stateside events.
Big Hit Entertainment in turn has seen immense success with its formation of BTS, which became the first-ever Korean act to top the Billboard 200 chart earlier this year and potentially will see a second album land on top later this summer. The company was valued around 783 billion KRW in March, around $687 million USD, and last year operated with a higher operating budget than any of South Korea’s “Big 3” labels.
It is reported that CJ E&M’s aim through the venture is to create its own music-oriented intellectual property. At the present only girl group fromis_9, produced through last year’s Idol School show, was launched through CJ’s Stone Music; all other artists signed to CJ E&M subsidiaries are not directly managed by the conglomerate. Meanwhile, Big Hit have regularly held auditions for potential stars to join the company as trainees, but aside from BTS only currently only manage Lee Hyun, formerly of the vocal pop trio 8Eight.
The joint venture to create talent is a familiar path for Big Hit; the company has collaborated in the past to manage artists with Source Music and JYP Entertainment. It is the latest of several major business moves made by Big Hit in 2018, including last week’s news of the company joining with South Korea’s “Big 3” and other labels to create a video distribution platform similar to Vevo.
Big Hit is currently one of the most highly-valued entertainment companies in South Korea thanks to the immense success of BTS in 2018; The Investor reports that if Big Hit goes public, it is expected to beat all domestic rivals with a market value that could top 2 trillion KRW ($1.85 billion USD).