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In recent years, K-Pop has become a global industry with a market capacity of 5 billion dollars. Not only targeting the market in Asia, the South Korean music genre was able to penetrate the United States. Not even a few idol groups managed to hold a solo concert in Uncle Sam’s country.
The popularity of idol group is certainly inseparable from the encouragement and hard work of the agency. Today, there are dozens of registered entertainment companies. However, only a few are listed as the most influential agencies. Here, the big agencies that evoke the country music industry in South Korea.
1. YG Entertainment
YG Entertainment is an agency and label that was officially established in March 1996. The name is based on the initials of its founder, Yang Hyun Suk, a former member of boy group Seo Taiji & Boys. The entertainment company also has subsidiaries engaged in the clothing industry, cosmetics brands, and golf management.
Hip-hop trio Keep Six is the first artist to join this famous South Korean company. However, the group is less well known to the public. To attract public attention Yang Hyun Suk shifted his focus to the duo Jinusean.
Yang Hyun Suk raised his entertainment company not alone, but working with his younger brother Yang Min Suk. Slowly the agency became known, in 1998 successfully debuted 1TYM. Thanks to Jinusean and 1 YTM, YG Entertainment successfully brought the hip hop genre into the mainstream south Korean music industry.
The company continues to grow, the peak of YG Entertainment’s popularity has increased since its debut Big Bag, even managed to penetrate the American market. Until now, not a few popular idol groups formed by this agency include 2NE1, Winner, iKON, Blackpink, Treasure, AKMU, soloist Lee Hi, and many more.
2. JYP Entertainment
Soloist and songwriter Park Jin Young founded the company Tae Hong Planning Corporation in 1997. That same year, the entertainment industry agency recruited singer Pearl. In 2000, he signed Rain as treinee and debuted it two years later.
Rain is listed as the first soloist to successfully reach overseas markets. In 2001, Park Jin Young changed the company’s name to JYP Entertainment. After that, the agency debuted several duos and groups, but not so successfully. Until May 2006, the company debuted the first girl group called Wonder Girl.
Girl Group achieved success with the first group achievement to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 76. This led JYP Entertainment to sign a contract with Jonas Brother. Wonder Girl opened the Jonas Brother world tour in several cities.
JYP Entertainment also has several subsidiaries including Studio J, Sella Tech Co.,Ltd. So far, Park Jing Young has successfully debuted 2PM, Miss A, Twice, Itzy,Japanese girl band NiziU, and many more.
3. SM Entertainment
SM Entertainment was founded by Lee So Man in 1995. The agency is one of South Korea’s three largest entertainment companies along with YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. Salain was also listed as the richest company with revenues reaching 325 billion in 2015.
Initially, the company had the name SM Studio which was established since 1989, but in 1995 it was changed to SM Entertainment with Jung Hae Ik as CEO. First generation artists are HOT, SES, Shinhwa, and Fly to Sky.
SM Entertainment has always succeeded in debuting the next generation such as BoA, TVXQ, TRAX, The Grace, Super Junior,SNSD, Shinee, F(X), EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, and most recently Aespa. In addition, the company also houses actors and actresses such as Go Ara, Kim Si Hoo, Song Jae Lim, Jang Dong Gun, and many more.
4. Big Hit Entertainment
Big Hit Entertainment was founded in 2005 by former composer Bang Si Hyuk, otherwise known as Hitman Bang. Boy Group BTS managed to make the company’s name popular and was included in the ranks of major agencies in South Korea. After the boy group’s popularity, the company debuted TXT and soloist Lee Hyun.
Not long ago, Big Hit Enterteinment reportedly acquired the company Source Music and Pledis Enterteinment. Thus, the agency houses idol groups such as Gfriend, NU’EST, and Seventen. The company also has several subsidiaries, one of which is BELFIT which is managed with CJ E&M.
According to rumors, Big Hit Entertainment is currently shifting YG Entertainment’s position in the Big 3 position. This is caused by the collapse of YG Entertainment after being hit by persistent problems since 2018.
5. Stone Music Entertainment
Stone Music Entertainment is a company under CJ E&M. The agency has its own exclusive label, Off the Record Entertainment, which manages the winners of Survival Produce 101 and Produce 48. The most popular groups today are IZ*ONE and Fromis_9.
Both groups achieved success not only in South Korea, but also in several countries. In fact, it debuted in Japan some time after its debut. Their music video also got over 5 million views on Youtube.
In addition, Stone Musik also produces idol music from other agencies such as Kim Feel, IN2IT, Son Ho Young, Yoon Ji Sung, Heize, DAVII, $ammy, Truedy, Mia, X1, and Kim Jae Hwan. By 2020, the company’s market capitalization is estimated at $300 million. Youtube followers are about 7.7 million subscibers that continue to increase every day.