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YG Entertainment Inc. (Korean: YG 엔터테인먼트) is a South Korean entertainment company established in 1996 by Yang Hyun-suk. The company operates as a record label, talent agency, music production company, event management and concert production company, and music publishing house. In addition, the company operates a number of subsidiary ventures under a separate public traded company, YG PLUS, which includes a clothing line, a golf management agency, and a cosmetics brand.
|Founded||February 24, 1996|
|Hwang Bo-kyung (CEO)|
|Revenue||US$ 429 million (2018)|
|US$ 32 million (2018)|
Number of employees
Current artists include Sechs Kies, Jinusean, Big Bang, Dara, Akdong Musician, Winner, iKon, Blackpink, and Treasure as well as actors and actresses including Kang Dong-won, Choi Ji-woo, Cha Seung-won, Lee Sung-kyung, Jin Kyung, and Yoo In-na. Other notable artists include Somi and Anda who are under YG Entertainment's subsidiaries The Black Label and YGX respectively.
1996–2005: Hip-hop roots, early success and first generation K-popEdit
In March 1996, Yang Hyun-suk, a former member of the first-generation K-pop group Seo Taiji and Boys, founded YG Entertainment along with his younger brother Yang Min-suk. The company's first artist was the hip-hop trio Keep Six. When they failed to attract popularity, Yang turned his focus to the duo Jinusean and in 1998 to the debut of 1TYM. Both were successful artists that Yang credits for bringing YG Entertainment and the hip hop genre into mainstream Korean music.
In 1999, YG Entertainment's artists released a collaborative album under the name YG Family. The label followed with releases from artists such as Perry, Swi.T, Big Mama, Lexy, Gummy and Wheesung. It also established the "YG Underground" label, which housed 45RPM and Stony Skunk. In 2001, a second YG Family album was released. Among others, it featured the 13-year-old G-Dragon, who was then a trainee.
The agency found success in both Korea and Japan with its first "idol" singer Seven in 2003, who became the company's first artist to attempt to cross over into the US music scene, though his US debut failed to gain momentum.
2006–2011: Mainstream breakthroughEdit
Following Se7en's success, YG Entertainment formed its first idol group Big Bang in 2006. Despite an initial lukewarm reception, the group's breakthrough the following year and their consistent popularity have made them one of the biggest and most bankable boy bands in the world. This was followed by YG's first successful girl group 2NE1 in 2009, who, prior to their split in 2016, were considered one of the most successful and popular girl groups in South Korea. Similarly to Seven, both groups conducted successful careers in Japan.
In 2010, YG Entertainment made a highly publicized move into a new building, while the old headquarters became a training facility. In the same year, the company unsuccessfully applied for listing on the stock exchange; it was suspected that this was because the company had too few active music groups and an unstable cash flow, despite an increase in earnings in 2009. Later that year, the label signed established artist Psy.
2012–2015: International recognition and business expansionEdit
2012 brought YG international recognition when Psy's "Gangnam Style" gained worldwide popularity as a viral video. On August 21, it charted at number one on the iTunes Music Video Charts. This feat was a first for a South Korean artist. By November 24, "Gangnam Style" had become the most viewed video in YouTube history, and the first video to surpass a billion views. The song was credited as the main reason for YG Entertainment's share prices increasing by more than 60 per cent, with the record label subsequently filing its first annual report in 2012 with profits of over 50% after going public on the KOSDAQ the year before.
That same year, the label signed rapper and producer Tablo, leader of the hip hop group Epik High, relaunching his career after a musical hiatus following his Stanford controversy. Tablo's band Epik High later transitioned into the record label following his success.
Yang's increased involvement on competitive reality television series led to several record deals with contestants, starting with K-pop Star’s first season runner-up Lee Hi. Other participants on the show were signed as potential members of the label's future boy groups. On the second season of the show, both the winners, sibling duo Akdong Musician as well as runner-up Bang Ye-dam, signed under the agency. Additionally, the reality program Win: Who is Next was later launched by YG Entertainment, in which two teams of male trainees competed against each other for the chance to sign a contract with the label to debut as the company's next boy band. The conclusion of the reality series saw the formation of Winner.
In 2014, YG Entertainment acquired T Entertainment's staff and actors including Cha Seung-won, Im Ye-jin, and Jang Hyun-sung. Additionally, through the acquisition of modelling agency K-Plus, it expanded its acting division through the acting debuts of models Lee Sung-kyung and Nam Joo-hyuk. YG also signed a contract with actress Choi Ji-woo. French luxury giant LVMH's private equity arm, L Capital Asia, later announced that it would be investing up to US$80 million in YG Entertainment. Headquartered in Singapore, L Capital Asia would become the second-largest investor in YG with an 11.5% stake, second only to Yang Hyun-suk's 28%. In 2014 YG Entertainment also expanded into the beauty industry with the creation of its cosmetics brand Moonshot.
In 2015, YG Entertainment invested nearly US$100 million in a new Gyeonggi-do-based industrial complex which was slated to be complete by December 2018. Real estate in Seoul worth ₩16 billion (US$14 million) was also purchased for the purpose of expanding their headquarters. In that year, the company also saw the creation of two sub-labels, the first led by Tablo and the second headed by YG producers Teddy Park of 1TYM and Kush of Stony Skunk. Additionally, the members of the losing team from the reality series WIN: Who is Next regrouped and debuted as iKon, along with a new member.
2016–present: Recent developmentsEdit
Sixteen years after the group's disbandment, first-generation K-pop boy band Sechs Kies signed a contract with YG in May 2016 to relaunch their career. In the same month, Chinese technology enterprises Tencent and Weiying Technology announced an investment of US$85 million in YG. Weiying took an 8.2% stake in the company and Tencent a 4.5% stake. YG later added Lee Jong-suk, Kang Dong-won, and Kim Hee-jung to their list of actors.
YG Entertainment debuted the four-member Blackpink in 2016, followed by the solo rapper One the following year. Later that year, YG launched a talent show titled Mix Nine, a contest between trainees from different agencies. Although the winning team was scheduled to debut as idols, YG revealed that the debut for the male winning group had been cancelled. The failure of the show led to incurred losses of ₩7 billion won in the first quarter and ₩4 billion won in the last three months of 2017, causing JYP Entertainment to surpass YG as the second-highest valued K-pop company.
In May 2018, Psy left the company after eight years. Later that year, YG Entertainment announced YG Treasure Box, a survival competition show to determine the line-up for their next boy group. The resulting boy group Treasure debuted in August 2020.
Following the Burning Sun scandal involving Big Bang's Seungri, accusations of corruption surrounding Yang Hyun-suk and a drug scandal involving iKon leader B.I, Yang Hyun-suk stepped down and resigned from all positions in YG Entertainment and his brother, Yang Min-suk, resigned as CEO on June 14, 2019. Hwang Bo-kyung was appointed as the new CEO of YG Entertainment on June 20, 2019.
The agency debuted it's 4th boygroup, the twelve-member, Treasure in August 2020.
YG Entertainment's records are distributed by the following:
- YG PLUS (Overall since 2019), Kakao M (Specific releases only) – South Korea
- YGEX – Japan
- BEC-TERO Music – Thailand
- Trinity Optima Production – Indonesia
- Tencent - China (online only)
- WMG – rest of Asia (Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.)
- Interscope/UMG - Europe, North America, and Japan (for Blackpink & Jeon So-mi 'The Black Label' only)
- Universal Records (until 2012), Warner Music Philippines and MCA Music Philippines - Philippines
In March 2010, seven record labels in Korea (including the three biggest agencies: YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, Star Empire Entertainment, Medialine, CAN Entertainment, and Music Factory) jointly established KMP Holdings, a service platform aiming to provide digital music distribution and television program productions. It was speculated that this was in challenge to the duopoly on music distribution in Korea by Mnet Media and LOEN Entertainment. In November 2012, KMP Holdings was acquired by KT Music. In January 2014, the seven agencies behind KMP Holdings formed a collective bond partnership and purchased 13.48% of KT Music's stocks, leaving parent company KT Corporation with 49.99%.
YGEX was established on April 12, 2011, as a partnership between Avex and YG Entertainment for the promotion and release of all YG Entertainment's material in Japan. Prior to this, YG Entertainment's Japanese releases had been in partnership with Nexstar Records, a Nippon Columbia label that managed Japanese releases for Seven, and Universal Music (which signed a three-year exclusive contract in 2008 for Big Bang's Japanese releases).
United Asia ManagementEdit
In April 2011, United Asia Management was formed as a joint talent management agency between YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, KeyEast, AMENT, and Star J Entertainment.
YG Entertainment first collaborated with Californian concert promotion company Live Nation to produce Big Bang's Alive Galaxy Tour (2012). Live Nation subsequently directed 2NE1's New Evolution World Tour (2012) and G-Dragon's One of a Kind World Tour (2013). General Manager of Live Nation Asia, Mats Brandt, said in an interview that the company considered Big Bang to have the most potential to become a "global artist".
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HIGHGRND (read as "high ground") was an independent sub-label headed by Epik High's Tablo. Announced in March 2015, the label was set up by Yang Hyun-suk under the YG Entertainment umbrella as part of a long-term goal to reach out to the Korean indie and alternative scene. On June 21, 2015, Tablo introduced the band Hyukoh via Instagram as the label's first official artist. The company had fostered artists Millic, offonoff, Punchnello, Code Kunst, The Black Skirts, Idiotape, and Incredivle ever since.
However, on April 11, 2018, an article was released that HIGHGRND was no longer due to Tablo's resignation as CEO the previous year. As of the release of this article, the artists in the label soon revealed that they had signed in with other labels and had other companies to distribute their new releases that year.
The Black LabelEdit
Following the successful formation of HIGHGRND, on September 22, 2015, YG Entertainment announced the creation of another independent sub-label, to be headed by YG Producer Teddy and Kush. The label currently houses Zion.T, Okasian, Danny Chung (formerly known as Decipher), Vince and Jeon So-mi
On September 1, 2016, representatives of YG Entertainment announced that Psy would be leading an independent sub-label titled PSYG, a portmanteau of "Psy" and "YG". The label was registered as a corporate subsidiary in June and marked another chapter in the collaboration between Psy and long-time friend Yang Hyun-suk, as it was revealed that the YG CEO had implicitly promised the creation of a sub-label when Psy had signed on to the company in 2010 amidst personal difficulties, having been encouraged by his wife to work with the YG founder. As Psy left the company in mid-2018, PSYG has ended its operations and closed its doors.
Yang Hyun-suk announced, in May 2018, a subsidiary company called YGX would merge with Seungri's DJ label NHR. On June 4, on his official Instagram account, he posted a picture of a business card showing Seungri as the CEO of YGX Entertainment. In 2018, the label launched a dance and vocal academy, called X ACADEMY, where students could potentially be scouted by YG Entertainment as trainees.[unreliable source?] YGX houses artists VIINI, Blue.D, and Anda.
YG PLUS Inc., previously named Phoenix Holdings Inc., is a publicly traded media and advertisement company acquired by YG Entertainment in October 2014. Yang Min-suk was appointed as the company's CEO, with YG Entertainment owning 38.6% of the company's shares. Some of its notable clients include Coca-Cola, SK Telecom, and The Face Shop. YG PLUS currently owns 100% of YG K-Plus and YG Golf Academy, with minority shares in Moonshot and NONAGON. In 2019, the company entered the music distribution industry.
YG KPLUS (or YG K+) is a partnership between YG Entertainment and Korean model management company K-Plus. The merger was announced on February 18, 2014 by co-CEO Yang Min-suk. As of 2014, K-plus model agency housed over 170 models, including Kang Seung-hyun, Park Hyeong-seop, Lee Sung-kyung, Nam Joo-hyuk, Jang Ki-yong, Sandara Park, and Choi Sora. Since the partnership, K-Plus models have appeared in YG recording artists' music videos, as well as YG-owned brands' advertisement campaigns. YG Entertainment has also reportedly provided YG K+ models with roles in TV dramas, notably Nam Joo-hyuk in Who Are You: School 2015 and Lee Sung-kyung in It's Okay, That's Love, and have formally transitioned models to their acting division.
Moonshot (stylized in all lowercase) is a cosmetics brand launched by YG Entertainment on October 2, 2016. Developed with China's Huanya Group and in partnership with the cosmetics manufacturing company COSON, the brand is named after Apollo 11's historical landing on the moon. Its cosmetics are manufactured in South Korea and sold online as well as in-store in Samcheong, where according to Paik Ho-jin, an employee of the brand, Chinese shoppers account for 40-50% of the customers. As part of YG's partnership with French luxury conglomerate LVMH, Moonshot was launched at 11 Sephora stores in Singapore and at 13 Sephora stores in Malaysia on September 24, 2015.
Nona9on is a luxury street-wear brand founded in early 2012 by YG Entertainment and Samsung’s textile subsidiary company Cheil Industries. It operates through secondary retailers and pop-up stores, such as its first pop-up at Apgujeong’s Galleria Department Store. Following its domestic success, the clothing line also quickly sold out in its first international pop-up stores in 10 Corso Como shops in Milan, as well as other locations in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The brand plans to open a pop-up store at JayCo in Taiwan. It often features Bobby & B.I from iKon and Lisa from Blackpink in their commercials and promotions.
YG Sports was formed by YG Entertainment in 2015 through the acquisition of G-AD Communication, a golf agency that handles notable professional South Korean golfers such as Kim Hyo-joo, Lee Dong-min, Byun Jin-jae, and Yoo Go-un. Leading golf coach Han Yeon-hee acts as the head instructor of the academy, which aims to venture into acquisition of golf courses, scouting and nurturing of talent, hosting of golf tournaments, and retailing.
YG STUDIOPLEX is a TV drama production company jointly established by YG Entertainment and Barami Bunda Inc. in April 2017. The studio will "specialise in the production of Korean Wave contents" and enter the global market. The studio was preceded by YG Entertainment's attempts to get involved in the content production industry, following in the footsteps of SM Entertainment Group's SM C&C and CJ E&M (now CJ ENM)'s Studio Dragon. In 2016, YG participated in a joint production with NBCUniversal by investing in SBS's Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. Since then, YG has also actively recruited program directors (PD) from various terrestrial broadcasters, including Producer Park Hong-kyun, who worked on MBC's Queen Seondeok and The Greatest Love.
- I Picked Up a Celebrity On the Street (나는 길에서 연예인을 주웠다) (oksusu, 2018, co-produced with BaramiBunda inc)
- Love Alert (설렘주의보) (MBN, 2018, co-produced with Big Ocean E&M and Excel Investment)
- Mr. Queen (철인왕후) (tvN, 2020, co-produced with Studio Dragon and Crave Works)
- Joseon Exorcist (조선구마사) (SBS, 2021, co-produced with Crave Works and Lotte Cultureworks)
- Mister Robin (미스터 로빈) (Apple TV+, 2021)
YG Entertainment pledged to donate 100 won for every album sold, 1% of all merchandise sales, and 1,000 won for every concert ticket, to charities. In 2009, they raised US$141,000, and in 2010 $160,000. The company has also directly delivered US$4,400 worth of charcoal to families in need during the winter season. It announced that it would be donating around US$500,000 for disaster relief to Japan after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
In 2013, Yang Hyun-suk made headlines when he donated all of the dividends he received as a shareholder of YG Entertainment to help young children needing surgery. His dividends totalled around US$922,000.
- Bae Jung-nam
- Cha Seung-won
- Choi Ji-woo
- Gang Dong-won
- Han Seung-yeon
- Jang Hyun-sung
- Jang Ki-yong
- Jin Kyung
- Jo Hye-joo
- Jung Hye-young
- Jung Yun-seok
- Joo Woo-jae
- Kal So-won
- Kang Hui
- Kang Seung-yoon
- Kim Hee-ae
- Kim Ji-soo
- Kwon Han-sol
- Kwon Hyun-bin
- Kyung Soo-jin
- Lee Ho-jung
- Lee Hyun-wook
- Lee Ji-ni
- Lee Ju-myoung
- Lee Ki-taek
- Lee Soo-hyuk
- Lee Sung-kyung
- Nam Kyu-hee
- Park Hyeong-seop
- Park Sandara
- Park Tae-in
- Seo Jeong-yeon
- Son Ho-jun
- Seo Lee-seo
- Wang Yi-jun
- Woo Kang-min
- Yoo In-na
Former artists and actorsEdit
- Keep Six (1996)
- Sechs Kies
- Masta Wu (2000–2016)
- Swi.T (2002–2005)
- Wheesung (2002–2006)
- Gummy (2003–2013)
- Big Mama (2003–2007)
- Seven (2003–2015)
- Digital Masta (2003–2011)
- Lexy (2003–2007)
- Stony Skunk (2003–2008)
- XO (2003–2004)
- Wanted (2004–2006)
- Brave Brothers (2004–2008)
- 45RPM (2005–2008)
- SoulStaR (2005–2007)
- Big Bang
- 2NE1 (2009–2016)
- Psy (2010–2018)
- Lee Hi (2012–2019)
- Epik High (2012–2018)
- HIGHGRND Artists (2015–2018)[a]
- Hi Suhyun (2014–2019)
- One (2015–2019)
Former actors and actressesEdit
- Park Han-byul (2002–2004)
- Jung Sung-il (2009–2011)
- Heo Yi-jae (2009–2011)
- Kang Hye-jung (2001–2013)
- Stephanie Lee (2014–2017)
- Lee Yong-woo (2014–2017)
- Koo Hye-sun (2003–2017)
- Jung Yoo-jin (2016–2018)
- Lee Jong-suk (2016–2018)
- Go Joon-hee (2017–2019)
- Oh Sang-jin (2017–2019)
- Kim Hee-jung (2016–2019)
- Kim Sae-ron (2016–2019)
- Im Ye-jin (2014–2019)
- Wang Ji-won (2018–2020)
- Nam Joo-hyuk (2013–2020)
- Artists: Hyukoh, Punchnello, OffonOff, Incredivle, The Black Skirts, Idiotape
Producers: Code Kunst & Millic
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