Big Hit Entertainment, home to BTS and TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT), held a corporate briefing in Seoul on Wednesday (Aug. 21), where executives laid out the company's vision for the future.
In a video shared on YouTube, the session began with Big Hit founder, CEO and producer Bang Si-hyuk taking the lead, introducing the company's plans for the second half of 2019 and the immediate future.
Bang discussed the company’s recent advances, addressing how staff had grown fourfold and singling out the company’s new CBO Min Hee-jin as an example of the company’s development, saying that Min’s creative direction will spearhead a new female group with music direction by Bang. He also emphasized how Big Hit has established Belift Lab, a joint venture with CJ ENM, and brought on Source Music, home to popular K-pop girl group GFRIEND, as a subsidiary; the company also acquired Superb music gaming company earlier this week.
He also explained that revenue in the first half of 2019 for Big Hit has already nearly overtaken the company's total 2018 revenues at over 200 billion won, around $166 million USD. “Operating profits exceeded 39.1 (~$32.5 million) billion won, already almost two-thirds of last year’s 64.1 billion won (~$53.3 million) [operating profits],” said Bang.
Following these discussions, Bang addressed Big Hit’s goal to be a leader of innovation in the music industry, and compared the K-pop world to that of Korean gaming, nodding to Big Hit’s collaborations with Netmarble and that company's success as a roadmap to development. Netmarble, which is headed by Bang’s cousin Bang Jun-hyuk, became a primary shareholder of Big Hit Entertainment in 2018. Bang Si-hyuk expressed that the continued collaboration is important due to how sizable both K-gaming and K-pop are, with the former being far more lucrative than the latter. He stated that it his goal to have Big Hit push the music industry through several developmental stages similar to those that the Korean gaming industry has gone through to lead to a paradigm shift. Big Hit will concentrate on two core focal points to achieve this shift and eventual growth, firstly by innovating customer experience and secondly by expanding the value chain to build a customer ecosystem based on these foundations, with the ultimate goal to create new business opportunities.
Lenzo Yoon (Yoon Seok-jun), co-CEO of Big Hit Entertainment and the head of Big Hit’s Business group, then discussed these business ventures, marking his first public appearance since stepping into the roles.
Yoon first addressed how the company has begun to and will continue to implement a series of changes to make the concertgoing and merchandise-buying experience easier, such as by facilitating merchandise sales online, implementing using lottery-style ticketing systems, and creating rest areas and play zones for fans at concerts to revitalize fans and keep them engaged. Big Hit will also implement a series of changes that will enable audiences to use AI to engage with live events in a variety of different ways even if they are not physically in attendance, and will open more pop-up stores in association with concerts; Yoon cited a study that determined BTS’ most recent shows injected an estimated 481.3 billion won (~$400 million) into the Korean economy due to fan expenditures at concerts in Seoul and Busan.
Yoon then introduced Steve Seo, the CEO of Big Hit subsidiary BeNX, to discuss WeVerse, a fan-oriented platform developed to help facilitate fan experiences, communication between fans and artists, and a media platform featuring both free and paid content aimed at customers of Big Hit and its subsidiaries. It is paired with Weply, a commerce platform through which Big Hit’s audience can purchase goods and tickets to events through a singular service available to fans throughout the globe, with preference and unique opportunities available exclusively to app users. Fans will be able to use Weverse and Weply as identification to purchase event tickets, services and merchandise, and also utilize services related to attending Big Hit events, such as lodging and transportation.
Bang ended the 2019 Big Hit Corporate Briefing with the Community event by expressing how the company is emphasizing intellectual property branding and storytelling as elements in enhancing the company’s value chain and customer experience. The Big Hit founder discussed character brands and other ventures, such as the BTS World game and Mattel toy collaboration as elements of this, and also said that the company would continue to make a variety of products ranging from basic goods to luxury items available to audiences so that they won’t have to turn to non-official offerings.
The Big Hit mastermind ended the event with the announcement of furthering the artistic universes of the company's talent -- "BU,” or the BTS Universe, and “TU” for TXT -- through growing their storytelling efforts, including a Korean drama series that is slated to be released in the first half of 2020 that will be set in the BU and tell the story of the start of the relationship of the seven characters featured in it based on the members of BTS; the story has previously been shared in bits and pieces over the years through content like music videos, social media posts, webtoons and books. Big Hit and Netmarble will also release a new game based on the BU storyline and BTS’ artistry.
Watch the dramatic teaser video for the new, unnamed Netmarble-Big Hit BU-based game below, which references BTS’ most recent album series, Map of the Soul.