Big Hit Global CEO Lenzo Yoon on K-Pop, BTS, their fans and the future of the global entertainment industry

“We believe we can create industries and technologies that no one has yet seen.”

That statement of intent was made by Big Hit Entertainment Global CEO Lenzo Yoon, during a speech delivered yesterday (March 16) for SXSW Online.

In the virtual keynote, Yoon shared insights on Big Hit’s strategies past and present, and the role he believes the company will play in shaping the global entertainment industry of the future.

He also revealed that Big Hit is getting ready to expand its presence in Japan and the US.

Yoon’s appearance at the virtual event comes at a pivotal moment for the company.

Last year, Big Hit, which floated on the Korea Exchange in October, enjoyed annual revenue growth of 36% YoY versus 2019, in spite of the pandemic.

Big Hit also recently announced an expanded partnership with Universal Music Group, in addition to investing around $3.6m in a Korea-based Artificial Intelligence sound company, Supertone.

After Big Hit’s Corporate Briefing in August last year, MBW studied the comments of the company’s leadership and identified three important things that record labels around the world – including Universal, Sony and Warner – could learn from.

The comments made by Lenzo Yoon this week are equally educational. Here are three key points from his speech…

1) Big Hit strategized early on that original digital content would be the key to connecting its artists with their fans

Big Hit Entertainment CEO Bang Si-hyuk has previously referred to Big Hit as a “content powerhouse” and Yoon explained during his speech why the company initially decided to focus heavily on its content strategy.

Said Yoon: “When BTS was getting ready to debut, the world was becoming digital. We focused on the possibilities of new media, which we knew would become a bigger part of our fans’ lives.

“We thought that in this new environment content will be more important than the brand of the channel. We started to create our own content.

“This content became the link connecting our artists with our fans. Now they loved the world over in many forms, from short clips, variety shows, documentaries, reality shows and more.

He added: “These are all used by most entertainment companies today to engage with their fans, but back then, this was our new formula and in fact, people did begin to consume more content through online platforms than traditional media.

“Together with K-pop, our content is spread across the world through YouTube and social media.”

Big Hit Entertainment
2) Lenzo yoon believes there “is unlimited potential for growth” in the live-streaming business.

Livestreaming was big business for Big Hit in 2020, with BTS breaking the pay-per view virtual concert record in June with their ‘BANG BANG CON The Live’ event, followed by their two-day, live streamed ‘MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E’ event in October, which drew nearly 1 million viewers.

Said Yoon this week: “With live-streaming, new markets are being discovered. There is unlimited potential for growth.

“[Big Hit] led these changes and introduced new technologies from early on. But there was something else we made sure we didn’t forget, that our digital world could make people feel more isolated, lonely, left out.

“The need and wish for human empathy and emotional connection would become more powerful, so we felt that the biggest goal of the technology we used should be to make these links stronger.

“We became more sure of this with COVID-19 and the separations it has forced on us. After the global pandemic began last year, we had to cancel the BTS world tour. We returned instead to online concerts. We used AR, XR and other cutting edge technologies to create [content] with more impact.”

“With live streaming, new markets are being discovered. There is unlimited potential for growth.”

Lenzo Yoon

Added Yoon: “”We employed multi-view and 4k technologies to create delivery with more power. One area we focused on was linking the show with light sticks at home.

“We programmed the system, so that if you turn on your light stick at home during the online concert it processed color in tune with the music, just like at the show in person and the fans loved it, sharing their posts on social media of enjoying a concert in their own homes and rooms.

“The technology itself is not complex, but it was indispensable to give fans the joy of taking part themselves in a concert. They could feel the connection of being linked to others who share their love. This is our priority: content and friends.”

3) Big Hit believes that ‘fans are the core of the music industry…’

Big Hit’s artists, especially BTS, are well known for their loyal fan networks, which engage with Big Hit artists via the company’s global fan platform, WeVerse.

WeVerse pulls together content made by and for Big Hit artists, including music videos, teasers, movies, merch sales and even live streams, presenting it all in one place for these various artist fan communities.

According to Yoon, the fans are the “engine that drives the industry”.

“WeVerse is the pipeline for all of Big Hit’s content, but also a place where fans across the world become creators themselves, as well as consumers of content.”

Said Yoon: “Fans across the world communicate and connect here across borders, languages and cultures. WeVerse is the pipeline for all of Big Hit’s content, but also a place where fans across the world become creators themselves, as well as consumers of content.

“Fans are the core of the music industry. The passion of fans is the engine that drives the industry. When fans form a network, their power expands even more.

“We can see through Army, the BTS fandom, how fans create significant social and cultural changes. We must respect fans and treat them as companions in our growth and development.”

Added Yoon: “The artist and great music are of course the most important in the music industry, but also important is solving problems that present a barrier to the fan experience and offering new ways and experiences of enjoying music.

“Our foresight and choices changed the market. Once we learned and worked hard to catch up to market leaders. Now we are walking a path untrodden.  Big Hit is getting ready to expand our presence in Japan and the US.

“We are not just trying to expand on our success. We believe we can create industries and technologies that no one has yet seen.”Music Business Worldwide