From NFTs, webtoons, web novels, a new girl group and more, the South Korean entertainment giant’s 2021 briefing today outlined several new ventures
In the past year, HYBE has undergone major organizational and structural changes that have influenced its workings— the major one being its strategic partnership with American executive, Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings (to fast-track HYBE’s larger vision of expanding in America under HYBE America.)
Elaborating on the company’s vision of becoming a ‘global entertainment lifestyle platform company,’ HYBE’s Chairman, Bang Si-Hyuk and co-CEO of HYBE America, Braun, opened the company’s hour-long, pre-recorded community briefing earlier this morning.
As of today, HYBE operates under seven verticals. What started with music and artists under Big Hit Music has now created growth and expansion opportunities in e-commerce (Weverse Shop), game, original content (the most popular one being global pop group BTS’ variety show, Run BTS!), publishing and education business (Learn Korean With BTS!). The entertainment giant’s fan-centric platform, Weverse, has also seen an exponential rise in its downloads with fans from over 200 countries engaging with it.
Taking the business beyond music, the company’s strategy will now cater to the growing popularity of original stories as well as exploring avenues to ensure fans are always connected with the artist and their music. “So just like music and artists, stories can be the new IP,” explained Braun. Aside from building original content in America and South Korea, the company also shared its plans on venturing into fintech, creating immersive games, growing its artist roster and more.
Here’s what you can expect from HYBE Corp in the coming year:
More Original Content
Employing the power of original content, HYBE will be taking its story-based intellectual property to Naver’s WEBTOON and social writing platform Wattpad.
The company has announced the premiere of four original web stories in the form of webtoons and web novels. Focused around HYBE’s artists, the stories will create a unique fan experience, offering an additional medium to stay connected with their artists.
With Wattpad hosting HYBE’s original stories, we may be looking at a partnership that extends beyond web novels. A possibility stemming from this partnership could manifest as big-budget feature films of said web novels under Wattpad Studios— home to the famous Harry Styles fan fiction-turned-feature film, After Trilogy.
The roll-out plan for HYBE’s original stories stands as follows:
7 Fates: CHAKHO with BTS
Release date: 15th January 2022
Synopsis: Set in the near future, the urban fantasy story is inspired by the ‘chakhogapsa’ (tiger hunters from the Joseon Dynasty). Based on the intricate BTS Universe, 7 Fates: CHAKHO will explore the life of seven boys brought together by faith and why they must stay together despite the trials and tribulations they’ve faced.
Dark Moon: The Blood Altar with ENHYPEN (To be released as a series)
Release date: 16th January 2022
Synopsis: An urban fantasy and teen romance based on the lives of young vampires transcended by the beauty of a girl with her own secrets. Aside from romance, the story will also explore the bitter-sweet relationship between vampires and werewolves.
The Star Seekers with TOMORROW X TOGETHER
Release date: 17th January 2022
Synopsis: Based on the lives of an idol group that lives in a world where magic and reality coexist, The Star Seekers will narrate the tale of young boys who realize the magic powers they possess and untangle the secrets around the same.
Release date: TBA
Synopsis: A coming-of-age story of a group of young girls living in the controlled territory of Refugia. Upon finding a mysterious red book and necklace, the girls embark on an adventure to a strange world.
Ensuring fans enjoy artists and music in a more “diverse and interactive way,” HYBE Corp is currently developing a new game alongside BTS.
While previous games such as BTS WORLD saw the seven members involved at a character-level only, the forthcoming game has incorporated their involvement at a developmental level too, “You’ll get to play a game where our efforts are put in,” revealed BTS rapper, songwriter and producer SUGA.
Artist Livestreams on Weverse
With Weverse Company, a subsidiary of HYBE, acquiring 49 percent of shares in V Live and Naver, fans can expect to see a revamped, highly fan-centric version of Weverse early next year.
The subsidiary is all set to introduce the ‘V-Live’s Spot Live’ feature as an addition to the timely ‘moment’ notifications (updates from when artists create a post or comment on one) subscribers of the platform receive.
NFTs ( Non-Fungible Token)
Under a new venture between HYBE Corp and Dunamu— South Korea’s largest crypto exchange operator— fans can soon expect to lay their hands on NFTs.
Curated around HYBE’s artist IP-based content and other products, fans can own digital versions of various original assets. The association will bring forward a range of verified digital assets that have been assigned a unique value through blockchain technology. HYBE’s latest move would also ensure the authenticity of said assets, reducing the circulation of counterfeit products.
Explaining the implementations of the association via photo cards, Bang outlined what the future holds or NFTs at HYBE. An example could be physical photocard (often found inside albums or at concerts) made digital. The corporations could build virtual versions of photocards that can be digitally authenticated and circulated virtually amongst fans on platforms such as Weverse. Additional features of digital photocards could include dynamic visuals (moving images), music and/or the voice of the artist to be played when clicked on it.
While this was only an example given to make the association easier to interpret, Bang did not explicitly mention when digital photo cards will be created and whether this eradicates the existence of physical photocards altogether. “It seems like it won’t be long before we can use digital photocards,” he stated.
Global K-pop Girl Group
Following SM Entertainment and MGM Group’s global boy group project, NCT Hollywood, HYBE America in association with UMG will be launching a global K-pop girl group.
The main feature of this project includes a U.S.-based local training system, ensuring trainees benefit from everything HYBE and UMG have to offer. Other features include a crew of highly-trained vocal coaches, producers and choreographers who have worked with global pop stars along with physical and mental health experts to guide the trainees.
The training model is uniquely molded, fusing HYBE’s expertise with other requirements suited to the U.S. music market. Aside from this, UMG’s extensive network will aid in the distribution and marketing efforts.
Global auditions to join the group are now open and will run till November 28th.
HYBE Japanese Boy Group
HYBE Japan will be hosting global auditions to find three trainees to form a group with I-Land participants K, Nicholas, EJ and Taki.
The audition program, &Audition, will be broadcast live in Japan starting 2022 and streamed worldwide on YouTube.