Seoul, South Korea – Big Hit Entertainment, the South Korea-based entertainment group which handles various K-pop artists, including world-known group BTS, has announced it is entering an expanded strategic partnership with global music corporation Universal Music Group (UMG).

The partnership entails both companies working closely together in increasing opportunities for artists through innovation and technology, while expanding the global reach of K-pop music and culture around the world.

Furthermore, the partnership will allow UMG artists to explore enhanced ‘direct to fan’ communications through Big Hit’s Weverse, a dynamic community-based platform that allows loyal artist fans to engage, share and interact, see and hear new content and purchase new products.

“Our two companies indeed share values and visions in that we both pursue constant innovations and are committed to providing our fans with genuine music and content of the highest and uncompromising level of quality. In this sense, I strongly believe that UMG and Big Hit will create a synergy that will rewrite the global music history,” said Bang Si-Hyuk, chairman and CEO of Big Hit Entertainment.

The partnership, announced through the recently-established live-streaming platform of Big Hit Entertainment called KBYK’s VenewLive, also stated details about assembling and debuting a new global K-pop boy group together in the U.S. for the first time.

“We will strive to secure competitive platform leadership and develop a top group of artists through the close partnership between our two companies, enabling K-pop to transcend all borders and languages. This project is especially significant as it will apply Big Hit’s ‘success formula’ established over the past 16 years to the U.S., the center of the global music market,” said Lenzo Yoon, CEO of global and business at Big Hit Entertainment.

Members of this new boy group will be selected through a global audition program, which is on track to begin airing in 2022 and will be launched in conjunction with a major U.S. media partner. 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.

Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, said, “With their innovative approach to developing artists and embracing new technology, Big Hit has become one of the most dynamic companies in music entertainment. We’re thrilled to be working together as we launch a new joint venture between our companies that will further accelerate K-pop as a global cultural phenomenon.”

The upcoming audition program will also seek the help of Geffen Records, leveraging their extensive industry network and partners to oversee the music production, marketing, and global distribution operations. Big Hit will utilize its global expertise to lead the discovery, training, and development of new artists, fan content production processes, and management of fan communications through the Weverse platform.

John Janick, Chairman, and CEO at Interscope Geffen, commented, “We are all incredibly excited about this joint venture project between Geffen Records and Big Hit. This partnership offers both of us an incredible opportunity to work together helping to shape the future of music globally to the benefit of artists and fans alike.”

Singapore – NME, a British music magazine that has expanded its reach in Asia, has announced the launch of NME Shop, a one-stop shop for music-related items, including official merchandise, vinyl records and music studio equipment.

Targeted primarily to the Singaporean, Malaysian and the Philippine market, items in the NME shop are curated by NME Asia’s members for regional and user preference.

Official merchandise sold in the shop include exclusive NME-branded merchandise and also band-themed items, including those from celebrities such as David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Daydreamer and Blondie.

Vinyl records and cassette tapes of official music releases are also available, from international celebrities such as Billie Eilish and The 1975, to Singapore-based artists such as The Observatory.

For music producers, equipment such as CD turntables, speakers, launchpads, and headsets are also available for purchase in the online shop.

“Since 1952 NME has been a musical tastemaker. It’s now grown into a global media powerhouse committed to creating and curating content, products and experiences essential to fans of music and pop culture today. We’re now extending our iconic tastemaking to physical music products, festival merch, and music gear to delight music lovers in Asia,” said Meng Ru Kuok, CEO of NME parent company BandLab Technologies.