HYBE and Universal signal start of ‘historic joint venture’ with global search for new pop girl group

HYBE, the company behind K-pop superstars BTS, and Universal Music Group (UMG) have launched a global talent search for a new girl group, who will be based in Los Angeles and modeled on ‘the world-renowned K-pop training and development system’.

According to the two music companies, the launch of the competition, dubbed ‘the HYBE x Geffen Global Girl Group Audition’ marks the official start of their ‘historic joint venture’ announced in February.

Today’s announcement also follows last week’s news that BTS have signed a new deal with Universal Music Group/Interscope for distribution and marketing in the United States and other regions, with their deal forming part of what a HYBE spokesperson told MBW is a “continued effort to expand the strategic partnership” with UMG.

Upon its final formation and completion of the audition and training process, the new girl group’s music will be released under the forthcoming JV label created by HYBE.

As the name of the talent search suggests, the forthcoming JV label will partner with UMG’s Geffen Records, whose team will oversee the music production, marketing and global distribution operations.

HYBE says that it will use its global expertise to lead the discovery, training and development of the group, fan content production processes, and engagement with fans around the world.

Under their jointly created alliance, HYBE and UMG aim to launch what they refer to as a “global, diverse, and multi-talented girl pop group made up of artists around the world who are deeply passionate about music and aspire to be the next global superstar”.

The two companies add that the move “sets a precedent for the entire industry” because it marks the first time a US record label and a K-pop entertainment company have pooled their resources to “develop, and introduce a group from ground zero”.

It also represents the first time a US-based pop girl group will be modeled based on what HYBE and UMG call “the world-renowned K-pop training and development system”, described as “a full production that combines everything from music, performance, fashion, music videos, and communications with fans”.

According to a media statement, HYBE and UMG will “collectively emphasize artist development through components such as music and performance training as well as life skills training, including mental wellness and music business and financial literacy, to lead a rewarding and sustaining career”.

Preparation will take place in Los Angeles, where the pop girl group will also debut.

According to HYBE: “Aspiring artists must be female (she/her/them), between the ages of 15 and 19 (16 to 19 for EU residents), and exhibit talent in singing, rapping, dancing and/or producing”.

Potential candidates can submit audition videos online now through November 28 at 11:59 PM PT via the official audition website.

Speaking in February, UMG Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge called Big Hit “one of the world’s most innovative music entertainment companies, having achieved phenomenal global success by demonstrating that great music can overcome language and cultural differences”.

He added: “[The] success of both of our companies has been built on a foundation of shared values including an ethic of mutual respect with our artists, an expertise in connecting with fans, and our ability to leverage technology to build global entertainment brands that transcend music.”

Bang Si-Hyuk, then Chairman & CEO of Big Hit Entertainment, added at the time that “UMG’s influence [and] expertise accumulated in the world’s music market, coupled with Big Hit Entertainment’s pioneering ideas and innovation, will enable previously unimaginable feats”.

In March, Big Hit Entertainment officially rebranded as HYBE, and in July, Bang Si-hyuk stepped down from his role as CEO as a part of a major leadership shakeup at the company.Music Business Worldwide