What will 2023 be like for the Big 4 agencies of the music industry? Let’s take a look at the main keyword of each company.
HYBE plans to maximize the effect of a “multi-label”. This year is a very important time for HYBE as its ace, BTS, start their enlistment hiatus. If HYBE fails to respond flexibly to the risks, it may lose the trust of shareholders. This year, HYBE is determined to build its own label platform business structure that creates various forms of secondary and tertiary businesses, expands the global fandom platform Weverse, and continues to promote cross-industry collaboration.
Until now, the atmosphere is going well for HYBE. It successfully debuted New Jeans and LE SSERAFIM last year with impressive new records in both physical and digital sales. Thanks to the girl group’s breakthrough, HYBE succeeded in lowering its dependence on BTS by 65%.
On top of that, HYBE will strengthen its lineup by launching rookie boy groups, respectively, at Pledis Entertainment, where SEVENTEEN belongs, and KOZ Entertainment, led by Zico. It is rumored that both groups are composed of members who have their own production abilities and outstanding skills, aiming to lead the 5th idol generation.
SM, a K-pop long-run powerhouse, leads the trend once again. SM plans to show more intuitively its vision that the world will be connected through culture without any realistic and virtual boundaries across borders, ages, and generations.
Last year, SM introduced the SM Content World through SMCU and Metabolic Origin Story. Based on this, SM created Kwangya, the infinite world of creation of SMCU. SM artists such as TVXQ, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, SHINee, EXO, Red Velvet, NCT 127, NCT Dream, WayV, aespa, etc. will continue to grow and change endlessly in this unregulated, amorphous infinity.
As nothing is set, SM artists get to experience infinite freedom in Kwangya. Each team’s particular worldview is also constantly fused, divided, and transformed with others.
Based on this logic, SM’s own collaboration environment is being created. “SM Town Live 2023: SMCU [email protected]”, which was held on 2023, Jan 1st, was integrated into the SM Universe by showing a variety of collaborations with existing hit songs as well as new collaborations. In addition, SM “Avengers” girl group, including aces such as BoA, Girls’ Generation’s Tae Yeon Hyo Yeon, Red Velvet’s Seul Gi Wendy, and aespa Karina Winter will make a comeback with “Stamp on It” on Jan 16th. SuperM, SM’s strongest performer unit consisting of SHINee’s Tae Min, EXO’s Baek Hyun Kai, NCT’s Tae Yong Mark Lucas Ten, is also expected to resume its activities this year in time for Tae Min’s discharge.
NCT will reportedly launch a new unit for Tokyo. A rookie boy group that does not belong to the NCT system will also debut soon.
Last year, JYP launched girl group NiziU through “Nizi Project” and achieved tremendous success. NiziU created a sensation by becoming the first girl group to surpass 100 million streams on the Oricon chart twice. As much as they tasted sweet fruits, JYP is accelerating their localization strategy by introducing a Korean idol training program overseas.
“Globalization by localization”, which JYP has been constantly proclaiming, will start in earnest. This year, JYP will debut Chinese group Project C, the boy group version of Japan’s NiziU. Besides, A2K, a global girl group debut project that will be active in North America, is also underway.
JYP is moving one step further and entering “globalization” that breaks down the boundaries between countries and regions. A representative example is the release of NiziU’s Korean album. Attention is already being paid to how NiziU will be accepted to release an album in Korea and carry out domestic activities.
In addition, people are looking forward to the comebacks of NMIXX, which reorganized the team into a 6-member group after Jinni’s withdrawal, and Xdinary Heroes, which successfully completed their first solo concert since debut. The boy group selected through SBS’ audition program “Loud” is also about to debut.
YG “Reputation redeem”
Over the past few years, YG has literally spent days of humiliation and disgrace that cannot be washed away.
In 2019, Seungri was pointed out as the main culprit of the “Burning Sun” case and left BIGBANG as well as YG. Afterwards, Daesung was embroiled in controversy over aiding and abetting the operation of illegal entertainment establishments in his building in 2020. The past scandals of T.O.P and G-Dragon were also re-examined. Due to such frequent incidents, BIGBANG is stigmatized as a “criminal group”. On top of that, Yang Hyun Suk was accused of conciliating and threatening Han Seo Hee when she tried to report B.I’s drug charges in 2016. Han Seo Hee later reported that Yang Hyun Suk and YG pressured her through the National Rights Commission in 2019.
The bad news continued last year. iKON and BIGBANG T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung terminated their exclusive contracts, while Treasure Bang Ye Dam and Mashiho left the team. In particular, BIGBANG’s departure was an important event that could shake YG’s identity. On top of that, as BLACKPINK, which is responsible for more than half of YG’s sales, is going to mark the renewal season as soon as the world tour ends, YG’s crisis theory continues.
However, YG also had a chance to “take revenge”. YG’s founder Yang Hyun Suk was found not guilty on all charges surrounding him. As Yang Hyun Suk was the one who made YG’s glory, expectations are high that his return will be a turning point to revive YG’s unique color and musical personality.