(Bloomberg) – K-pop boy group BTS is ending their distribution deal with Sony Music’s Columbia Records and will team up with Universal Music Group instead.
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The move, confirmed by BTS management company Hybe after reports from Billboard and Bloomberg, is a blow to Universal Music, which has pursued the tie-up for years. Universal CEO Lucian Grainge had personally courted Hybe founder Bang Si-hyuk.
“While we greatly appreciate the time spent with Sony and will always be grateful for everything they have done and will continue to do, we look forward to our new chapter in partnership with Universal,” label Hybe Bighit Music said. in an email. The new agreement with Universal and its Interscope group covers distribution and marketing in the United States and other regions, the label said.
The deal includes Universal’s Ingrooves Music division which manages distribution and Universal’s Geffen Records which provides creative support and marketing, according to a person familiar with the details of the plan. Interscope had a three-year deal with K-pop girl group Blackpink, which made inroads with Western audiences and headlined the Coachella music festival in 2019.
Sony declined to comment.
Distribution deals for K-pop groups have increased in response to the genre’s growing worldwide popularity. Universal and Hybe announced a new partnership with YG Entertainment and Kiswe on Thursday by launching a new global live streaming platform. In February, Universal and Hybe announced an expanded strategic partnership that included a joint venture label with Geffen Records to launch a “global K-pop boy group.”
BTS was the world’s best-selling recording group last year, according to IFPI. Its videos combined for 10.6 billion on-demand streams in the United States, according to Billboard.
(Updates with confirmation from Hybe)
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