- HYBE (Formerly Big Hit Entertainment)
- JYP Entertainment
- YG Entertainment
- SM Entertainment
- Stone Music Entertainment
- Cube Entertainment
- FNC Entertainment
- Starship Entertainment
- Woollim Entertainment
- Pledis Entertainment
- DSP Media
- Fantagio Music
- KQ Entertainment
- BrandNew Music
- Jellyfish Entertainment
- RBW (Rainbow Bridge World)
- C9 Entertainment
- MLD Entertainment
- WM Entertainment
- Top Media Entertainment
K-pop is still bigger than ever. It is growing every day not just in Asia but all around the world. Furthermore, Kpop Entertainment companies are reporting all-time high profits and K-pop groups are getting global exposure. In 2019, BTS performed on SNL which made them the first Korean musical performer on the show and also sold out Wembly Stadium in England. Then in 2020, BTS’s disco-style song “Dynamite” went to #1 on both the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global US charts. Therefore, Korea’s main asset still continues to be K-Pop as Kpop Entertainment companies continue to find new talent. Most of these KPop companies/agencies are looking to expand outside of Korea and into other Asian markets as well as North America and Europe.
Some of the richest K-pop Idols started out as fans before pursuing their dream. People all over the world not only want K-Pop but also to become K-pop stars themselves. K-pop is a blend of electronic, hip-hop, pop, rock, R&B, and even rap. Currently, K-pop is a $5 billion global industry. For those looking to become a K-pop star or looking for some tips for K-pop auditions please check out our article here.
Most of the Kpop Entertainment companies are listed on KOSDAQ (HYBE (Formerly Big Hit Entertainment), SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, FNC Entertainment, and CUBE Entertainment). However, HYBE clearly stands alone at the top. For this ranking we at SEOULSPACE in collaboration with Seoulz took into account four factors:
- Talent roster
- Market Capitalization
- Future Potential
- Social Media
HYBE (Formerly Big Hit Entertainment)
The success of HYBE formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment is because of ONE group and one group only…BTS. In addition, BTS has been having one of the most successful runs of all time. At the start, HYBE was just a small company and in 2007 they were on the brink of bankruptcy. But with BTS they were able to create one of the biggest boy groups of all time.
BTS is a 7 member boy band and they have already sold millions of albums and their YouTube videos are some of the most-watched videos on Youtube. BTS was not an overnight sensation. They debuted in 2013. Therefore they have worked hard and finally broke out globally in 2019. BTS stands for Bangtan Sonyeondan which translates to Bulletproof Boy Scouts. Now BTS stands for Beyond the Scene.
A Huge Boom to the Korean Economy
It is estimated that BTS added more than $4 billion to the Korean economy to date. The band could generate $40 billion over the next decade for the South Korean economy. They first came to the US in 2014. The group was living in LA and learning about western culture. They even played at LA K-Con. They have since collaborated with Nicki Minaj, Halsey, and Ed Sheeran. In 2017 they won the Billboard award for top social artists, beating Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.
In 2018 BTS partnered with UNICEF, Converse, Coca-Cola, Puma, and Hyundai. Their stadium shows around the world quickly sold out. In 2019 they performed at Soldier Field and Metlife Stadium generating over $30 million in ticket sales.
The long-awaited BTS – Map of Seoul 2020 World Tour has been put on hold due to COVID-19. Their Love Yourself/Face Yourself Tour in the past has generated over $100 million. In addition, BTS set a new Guinness world record for most viewers from their latest online concert.
Their music concert live stream record had 756,000 fans from over 100 countries that tuned in to the online performance on June 14th of 2020. The concert was called “Bang Bang Con: The Live” and lasted for a little over an hour and a half and is now the world’s biggest paid online music event in terms of the number of viewers. To understand how big the audience was, the online crowd was equivalent to filling 15 offline stadium concerts.
Top Social Media K-Pop Group
They are very connected to their loyal fans who are called Army. BTS used social media to make themselves available and visible. The Band had full control of their social media. They were able to show their fans what was going on backstage. BTS has only one band account. One account per platform. For example, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter. HYBE has over 45 million subscribers on YouTube. Their IPO raised over $1 billion and brought its market cap to $4 billion. This is why HYBE is #1 in our rankings.
“In our company, we invest a lot of time educating trainees about life as an artist, including social media. After we provide guidance, we choose to let artists be, and leave a window open for them to ask the company anything they need. I think that helped the sincerity get through to the fans. Since BTS’ success, I’ve been changing the trainee system to be more school-like, with mentorship and a coaching system, and opportunities for students to work together.” Said CEO of HYBE Bang Si-Hyuk
Netmarble Holds 26% of HYBE
Netmarble, one of the biggest gaming companies in Korea bought 26% of HYBE back in 2018. The partnership was created to develop mobile games based on BTS. This year they released BTS World, which allows gamers to take on the role of BTS’s band manager.
The game has already brought in over $3 million since its launch. Furthermore, Bit Hit Entertainment acquired Source Music a Korean agency that represents Gfriend and Korean music gaming startup Superb. This will further HYBE’s foray into the gaming industry. The acquisition will allow HYBE to create mobile games based on their bands.
HYBE’s Vision for 2021
Co-CEO of HYBE Yoon Seok-jun has big plans for HYBE in 2021. They will focus on three visions.
- Revolutionizing the customer experience for fans
- Innovating a new platform-driven experience
- Creating a value chain of business with their IP.
Their focus for 2021 will be to create a new concert-going experience for their fans. It is getting more and more difficult to go to a BTS concert. Technology will allow for a more pleasant experience for their fans. For example, fans will be able to buy merchandise online instead of waiting in line for hours outdoors. Concerts will bring in food trucks and other food vendors so fans won’t have to bring their own food. In addition, Big Hit will start a lucky draw system for selling their concert tickets.
Furthermore, Big Hit Entertainment will look to launch novels, animated series, comic books, movies, mobile games, Kpop merchandise, and a Korean TV drama in 2020. Big Hit will continue to sell content that includes artist-based characters, illustrated books of lyrics, textbooks, games, and licensing.
Big Hit Entertainment Acquires Pledis Entertainment!
This was the biggest news to hit 2020 so far. Big Hit Entertainment acquired Pledis Entertainment who has Kpop groups SEVENTEEN and NU’EST just to name a few. Pledis Entertainment will maintain its independence. They will be a subsidiary of Big Hit Entertainment moving forward.
Big Hit Entertainment Investing in Tech
Big Hit Entertainment founded beNX, an online platform developer, and beOrigin, a content publisher to expand its business. In 2019, they also acquired entertainment agency Source Music and game developer Superb. beNX launched two apps called Weverse and Weply. Weverse is a community app that offers fans to interact with each other from around the world. Weply is an e-commerce app, the app lets fans buy merchandise and tickets from their smartphone.
Big Hit Entertainment Goes Public Changed Corporate Identity to HYBE
HYBEis now listed on the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI). They chose JP Morgan, Korea Investment & Securities, and NH Investment as the underwriters for the IPO. After raising over $1 billion through the ICO. It was South Korea’s largest IPO in 3 years. HYBE is now worth over $5.5 billion. HYBE will be composed of HYBE HQ and HYBE America. It will be further broken down into three business areas: HYBE Labels, HYBE Solution, and HYBE platform.
- HYBE Labels will focus on music and artist management
- HYBE Solution will focus on all the operation-related business that is extending beyond music.
- Finally, the HYBE Platform will hold the Weverse Company.
Artists: BTS, TXT, TOMORROW X TOGETHER
Estimated Market Cap: $5.5 Billion
YouTube Subscribers: 50.3 Million
Facebook Followers: 17.1 Million
Twitter Followers: 18.9 Million
Instagram Followers: 12.2 Million
JYP was founded in 1997 by J.Y. Park. The company has been known for making the careers of K-pop legends such as Wonder Girls, Rain, and Miss A just to name a few. Their YouTube channel has over 19.7 million subscribers. Their current hottest group TWICE has over 22 million followers on Twitter and Instagram combined. GOT7 has been holding it down on the male group side.
Each member is unique.
While each has been doing their own thing, they still support one another. Their comebacks have been huge successes. They might be one of the most underrated male groups of all time. JYP holds auditions all across Asia. Pay attention to ITZY and Stray Kids to really break out in 2021 as each is expected to have monster years.
“We’ve developed a system. Companies like ours have an academy, a sort of training system, to find young, talented kids and pull out the best in them. It started off organic, but we systematized it.” Said the Founder of JYP Entertainment, J.Y. Park.
Entering the Japanese Market
TWICE and GOT7 will continue to focus on Japan as both continue to gain a lot of popularity there. They recently formed a partnership with The Orchard in hopes of expanding their reach outside of Korea. The Orchard is a part of Sony Music Entertainment. They are in charge of global digital and physical distribution. This will help JYP enter the U.S. and European markets in 2021.
JYP Entertainment partnered with The Orchard in 2019. They will work together for global digital and physical distribution. In addition, JYP Entertainment will be able to release their content to the US, UK, and more through The Orchard.
JYP Global Audition Project – Nizi Project
JYP Entertainment has a successful global audition project called Nizi Project which can be seen on YouTube and Hulu every Friday. The program shows a behind-the-scenes look into how JYP Entertainment finds new K-pop talent from around the world. Each episode will air every Friday night at 7 p.m. on YouTube. The final group will debut in Japan at the end of the show.
Partnering with SM Entertainment for Virtual Concerts – Beyond Live
JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment will launch a joint company for virtual concerts. It will be called Beyond Live Corp. and it will operate to expand the paid Beyond Live online concert series which was created in 2020 between SM and Naver. Beyond Live uses AR technology and allows for real-time artists to audience interactions. TWICE already held a paid online concert on Beyond Live.
Artists: 2PM, TWICE, GOT7, DAY6, 15&, Stray Kids, JJ Project, NiziU, Jus2, 3Racha, ITZY, J.Y. Park, and Yubin.
Estimated Market Cap: $ 1.1 Billion
YouTube Subscribers: 19.7 Million
Facebook Followers: 2.7 Million
Twitter Followers: 4.5 Million
Instagram Followers: 4.0 Million
YG Entertainment is still recovering from the biggest sex scandal to ever hit the K-Pop industry. However, thanks to BLACKPINK they are still in the top 3. The scandal of Seungri, Jung Joon-young, and Choi Joon-hoon have dropped YG’s stock greatly.
YG Entertainment was an unstoppable force in the Kpop Industry in the past. LVMH invested $80 into YG Entertainment and China’s social media giant Tencent and its related online ticketing company Weiying Technology agreed to invest $85 million into YG Entertainment in 2016. Weiying owns 8.2% of YG and Tencent owns 4.5%. They also got a huge partnership/investment from Naver, South Korea’s largest internet portal for around $90 million (9% equity stake).
Their current top group is BLACKPINK who did a world tour in 2019. They have a massive hit with How You Like That in 2020. BLACKPINK continuously gets some of the most views for their music videos on YouTube. This has allowed them to reach a global audience which has allowed them to partner with Universal Music Group’s representative label, Interscope.
The Seungri Scandal (Burning Sun Scandal)
However, the key to YG will be the comeback of Big Bang after most have now finished their military service. But is that possible with the Seungri scandal? Investors have already started to sell their shares of YG Entertainment and by the end of 2019, it is possible that Big Hit Entertainment will surpass them. Seungri is facing jail time after allegations of drug use and sexual assaults that happened under his watch at the nightclub Burning Sun. He has posted on Instagram that he is quitting show business and denied he played any part in what is alleged.
YG Entertainment has a major PR problem they need to deal with. Big Bang is a major part of YG’s success. If they fail so will the company. They alone account for 40% of the companies total sales. B.I. of iKON was also involved in a drug scandal. Both B.I. and Seungri have since left their groups and have disappeared from public life.
YG Founder Yang Hyun-suk steps down
Yang Hyun-suk the founder of YG Entertainment stepped down due to the many sex and drug scandals at YG. He is also being looked into allegations he provided sex services for foreign investors back in 2016. Furthermore, an investigation is being conducted into allegations of illegal gambling by Yang Hyun-suk. Hwang Bo Kyung took over as CEO of SM Entertainment. She will play a big role in righting the ship at SM.
“I feel heavy responsibility and a sense of duty during this difficult time. I will straighten out the basics in order for YG Entertainment to take a step forward.” Said CEO of SM Entertainment, Hwang Bo Kyung.
Their strategy for 2021 will probably be to focus on BLACKPINK. This should be an interesting year.
Can BLACKPINK Carry YG Entertainment in 2021?
Has BLACKPINK reached its peak potential? YG seems to be pushing for each to have their own successful solo careers. BLACKPINK’s comeback will happen in June. Jennie’s solo debut was a huge success in 2019. BLACKPINK broke out in the US in 2019 setting records for reaching 1 billion views on YouTube and Spotify. They also participated in Coachella. The question is how YG will utilize BLACKPINK in 2021…as a group or as solos. So far so good as How You Like That is expected to break many girl K-group records. It already broke the YouTube viewing records for the most views within the first 24 hours and was also the fastest video to 10 million views. Another good news for YG is that Winner released their third album in 2020 and did very well.
Estimated Market Cap: $860 Million
YouTube Subscribers: 5.9 Million
Facebook Followers: 4.3 Million
Twitter Followers: 7.2 Million
Instagram Followers: 1.5 million
They have fallen out of the top 3 but are still major players in the Kpop industry. After getting investments from Alibaba and now Tencent, their popularity has been growing in China. If you check out their youtube channel they have over 25.9 million subscribers. Data shows that over 90% of the subscribers are not from Korea. A vast majority are from China. Therefore, their strategic partnership with Tencent Music Entertainment will help SM Entertainment’s distribution and marketing in the Chinese music market. SM even has a Chinese boy band called WayV.
Breaking into the Chinese Market
China is one of the leaders in the music streaming space. Tencent Music Entertainment has close to 900 million monthly users across four of the top music service platforms in China. To put that into context, Spotify has just under 200 million monthly active users. Through the partnership, Tencent Music Entertainment will have access to SM’s entire music catalog.
SM’s music and video platform sales have grown close to 50% from last year. Their top female K-pop group at the moment is Red Velvet which is doing their first solo tour in the United States. Their top male K-pop group is still EXO and the second Super Junior is doing a tour around South America.
SM is planning to create an American version of Girl’s Generation as well as a European version of NCT.
SuperM Breaks into the U.S. Market
One of the top rising boy groups SuperM did a live performance on U.S. television network ABC’s Good Morning America. SuperM is formed of seven members from SM’s boy groups SHINee, EXO, NCT 127, and WayV. Beyond Live will help more groups like SuperM get massive global exposure. SM was able to get an $83 million investment from Naver to strengthen their partnership in areas of online concerts and fan community platforms. Beyond Live which they are doing with JYP comes to solve the problems with travel limitations and restrictions on public gatherings due to COVID-19.
Corporate Restructuring at SM Entertainment
SM did a major corporate restructuring due to pressure from shareholders. SM Entertainment had been acting more like a tech company rather than a music company. They have many subsidiary companies that create apps that help bridge communication between fans and artists. Their focus now will be on culture creation, culture expansion, and culture exportation. Therefore they will partner with their artists so their branding can be utilized in many different types of business not just music. SM Entertainment has already started to acquire modeling agencies and sports agencies to expand SM’s presence.
SM Entertainment Partners with Creative Artists Agency
US-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA) located in Los Angeles has partnered with SM Entertainment. CAA is considered one of the biggest sports and entertainment agencies in the world. They represent superstar artists such as Beyonce and Ariana Grande. The two companies will work together to showcase SM’s Kpop Groups to the US market. They will work together on TV production, performances, and advertising. The two groups SM will push in 2021 will be NCT 127 and SuperM who both had great runs in 2019 and 2020.
“We believe that SuperM and NCT 127 will expand further to the global market together with CAA,” said Founder of SM Entertainment, Lee Soo-man.
SM Entertainment Global Auditions
Those looking to audition for SM Entertainment can do so online. The application will need to be accompanied by a dance video, a singing audio clip, as well as side/front face profile pictures. They are looking for talent aged from 10-20 from all backgrounds, races, nationalities, and gender. The shift to online auditions has occurred due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Will physical auditions come back? We will have to wait and see.
Artists: S.E.S., TVXQ, Girl’s Generation, Super Junior, SuperM, Shinee, f(x), EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, BoA, Kangta, J-Min, Sunday, Taemin, Dana, Amber, Taeyeon, Luna, Victoria, Lay, Yoona, Yuri, Key, Onew, Chen, U-Know, Sulli, Baekyun.
Estimated Market Cap: $665 Million
YouTube Subscribers: 25.9 Million
Facebook Followers: 5.8 Million
Twitter Followers: 9.0 Million
Instagram Followers: 10.7 Million
Stone Music Entertainment
Stone Music Entertainment is a privately-held company under CJ ENM. It is one of the biggest co-publisher companies in South Korea. They are not just a record label, but also a talent agency and music production company. They established their own exclusive label Off The Record Entertainment to manage the winners of the popular Korean singing program Produce 48. The winner IZ*ONE and the winner of Idol School were Fromis 9. They also established an exclusive label LM Entertainment, Swing Entertainment, MMO Entertainment, and Studio Blu.
“Though many say Korea does not have many natural resources, I believe our resources lie in the human talent that exists in the country,” said CEO of Stone Music Entertainment Jung Chang Hwan.
Big Years from IZ*ONE, and Fromis_9
IZ*ONE had a huge 2019/2020, especially in Japan. They had their Japanese debut at the Tokyo Dome City Hall. Their music video of Suki to Iwasetai got over 5 million views on YouTube in less than a week. Their two concerts at Jamsil Indoor Stadium all sold out. Fromis_9 released their first single album called Fun Factory and in 2019 that album reached #2 on Gaon Album Chart.
Artists: Off the Record Entertainment (IZ*ONE and Fromis_9), MMO Entertainment (Kim Feel, IN2IT, and Son Ho-young), LM Entertainment (Yoon Ji-sung), Studio Blu (Heize, DAVII, $ammy, Truedy, and Mia), Swing Entertainment (X1 and Kim Jae-hwan)
Estimated Market Cap: $200 Million
Youtube Subscribers: 9.4 million
Facebook Followers: 547,000
Twitter Followers: 106,600
Instagram Followers: 45,300
Cube Entertainment has found great success with their new group PENTAGON. PENTAGON looked to take the place of B2ST who left Cube Entertainment. This was an attempt to revive Cube Entertainment who has not had a great 2016 and has seen its stocks suffer continual losses even into 2017-2018. Cube’s success depends on the continued success of BTOB (top digital sales 2018), the rise of PENTAGON, CLC‘s debut, and (G)IDLE taking that next step.
With the loss of 4 Minute and B2ST, it was crucial for PENTAGON and CLC to pick up the slack which they were unable to do. Losing BEAST was a crushing blow to Cube Entertainment. Add that to their failure to sign SISTAR and resign 4 Minute and many are wondering if Cube Entertainment can ever recover.
Many questioned whether Cube Entertainment can take girl groups to the next level. It was not wise to launch HyunA‘s solo career so closely with 4 Minutes debut. As all the attention went to HyunA, 4 Minute just got left behind. HyunA eventually ended up leaving Cube Entertainment after admitting to a relationship with Dawn a former member of PENTAGON. In fact, looking back on Cube Entertainment’s history you can say their only A-list hit was BEAST. Maybe they should think about restructuring their business model in regards to managing their artists.
United Cube ONE Concert
Their 2019 United Cube ONE Concert was a huge hit as it offered their fans a mobile view of the concert on the CUBE TV Hangtime app. The concert had over 30 Cube artists and it allowed fans who couldn’t make the sold-out concert a chance to view the concert from a variety of cameras. This multi-view experience could set the standard for live video production for mobile devices. In addition, the CUBE TV Hangtime app can be downloaded for users to watch live and archived content anytime and anywhere from their mobile phones.
Will Cube Entertainment get Sold in 2021?
D’Live the owners of Cube Entertainment are in talks to sell Cube Entertainment to Kakao. It is estimated that Cube Entertainment is heavily in debt even they have shown improved earnings in both 2018 and 2019. This is mainly due to the success of (G)IDLE and BTOB. Furthermore, the Cube Entertainment founder resigned after ownership disputes. Korean cosmetics and media commerce firm VT GMP became Cube Entertainment’s largest shareholder by acquiring a 30% stake in the agency for $23.8 million. What complicates matters is that the founder of Cube Entertainment Hong Seong-sung left the label.
Cube Entertainment Looking to Enter the Chinese Market
Cube Entertainment has made a partnership with China’s NetEase Cloud Music, a freemium music streaming service to attract young Chinese music fans. It allows users access to basic content for free but it requires users to pay for monthly subscriptions or other payments in order to gain access to premium content. Premium content includes online fan meetings or exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. NetEase Music has close to 1 billion users and is one of China’s top online music services. Therefore, Cube Entertainment will provide exclusive music content for promotions in China.
Artists: BTOB, CLC, Pentagon, (G)IDLE, A Train to Autumn, Jo Kwon, Jang Hyun-seung, and Yoo Seon-ho
Estimated Market Cap: $113 Million
YouTube Subscribers: 2.32 Million
Facebook Followers: 608,000
Twitter Followers: 1 Million
Instagram Followers: 293,000
FNC Entertainment has been known for cool/hipe bands like CNBLUE, SF9, and AOA who have all transitioned into more of a dance group. AOA has been the talk of 2020 with the scandal involving Mina getting bullied by Jimin and Seolhyun. Jimin ended up leaving the group and FNC Entertainment ended up apologizing for failing to have carefully taken care of the relationship between the members.
Out of all the K-pop Entertainment companies, FNC Entertainment is having the worst year in regards to public relations. Back in 2018, the CEO of FNC Entertainment Han Sung Ho stepped down to focus on talent management as their executive producer. FNC Entertainment is currently being run by co-CEOs Ahn Suk Joon and Han Seung Soon.
“We believe that there will be a positive synergy between Ahn Suk Joon, who has been recognized for his business acumen in the industry and Han Seung Hoon, who has worked as a producer for a long time and has a high understanding of the entertainment industry.” Stated FNC Entertainment.
TV vs Music
However, the biggest star for FNC Entertainment is not even a K-Pop star but the famous Yoo Jae Suk who they signed in 2017. That signing alone rose FNC’s stock prices by 30% raising the company’s value to close to $300 million. Therefore FNC relies more on their T.V. talent than singers. This might be a good strategy moving forward as they will not be able to compete with the Big 3 and for sure not Big Hit. Veteran actors Lee Dong Gun will continue to help FNC as they look to split their talent base down the middle.
SF9 is who FNC will focus the most on in 2021. They are looking to push them in Japan as well as Latin America. Their new female group Cherry Bullet will also debut in 2019. CNBLUE’s Jung Yong-hwa left military service back in November of 2019 so a late CNBLUE comeback could be in the works.
The Rise of Actor Jung Hae-in
Korean actor Jung Hae-in is the biggest rising star for FNC Entertainment. He was on one of the best Korean Dramas of 2018 called “Something in the Rain”. Therefore, he has the potential to add up to $20 million per year for FNC.
Artists: CNBLUE, FT Island, N. Flying, AOA, InnoVator, SF9, and Cherry Bullet.
Estimated Market Cap: $77 million
YouTube Subscribers: 1.32 million
Facebook Followers: 653,000
Twitter Followers: 492,900
Instagram Followers: unknown
FAVE Entertainment was formerly known as LOEN Entertainment and their subsidiary Starship Entertainment has had much success with their 12-member girl group Cosmic Girls and of course IU who is one of the biggest stars in Korea at the moment. IU is not only a musician but also a very successful actress. She is the driving force behind FAVE entertainment. Starship’s focus for 2021 will be to continue to look into the Chinese market and Cosmic Girls which consists of both Koreans and Chinese members is their best chance for it. Therefore, with SISTAR resigned and onboard, Starship will look to nurture their individual abilities for potential solo careers.
UP and Down year for MONSTA X
Male group MONSTA X partnered with Cosmic Girls to form a new unit called Y TEEN. Y TEEN consists of 7 MONSTA X members and 7 Cosmic Girls members for a total of 14 members. This is Starship’s plan to appeal more to young girls. MONSTA X was Starship’s top group in 2019 even with the termination of Wonho from his contract due to drug allegations.
Comeback group WJSN will continue to push their comeback album as well as continue acting. Furthermore, Boyfriend, solo artists K.Will, Soyou, and Jeong Sewoon will perform in various ways such as broadcasting. They come in at 8 on our list of the top K-pop entertainment companies.
Starship Entertainment’s New Boy Band Cravity
Cravity will be the first boy band to debut under Starship Entertainment since Monsta X back in 2015. They will be a nine-member boy group. Their debut single “Break All the Rules,” has had positive reviews so far.
Artists: K.Will, Soyou, Jeong Sewoon, Cravity, MONSTA X, and Cosmic Girls.
Estimated Market Cap: $70 million
YouTube Subscribers: 4.59 Million
Facebook Followers: 770,000
Twitter Followers: 605,000
Instagram Followers: 499,000
Woollim Entertainment merged with SM Entertainment through SM C&C in 2013. However, three years later the two companies officially separated. Both Kpop Entertainment companies decided to go their separate ways. Woollim Entertainment now is an independent company. Their main artists include INFINITE and Lovelyz. However, INFINITE L announced he will be departing from Woollim Entertainment. Woollim Entertainment decided not to renew this contract. However, INFINITE’s disbandment is not being considered at all.
What can you expect in 2021? More of Golden Child? The main singer Choi Sung Yoon could be the next big K-pop star in 2021. When they debut in August of 2017 with “DamDadi” there was a lot of buzz about them because of their youthfulness and high energy.
The big acquisition of Woollim was Takahashi Juri of Japanese idol group AKB48 for the new 6 member girl group Rocket Punch. Therefore, this could be their long-term plan to break into the Japanese market. They are one of the major Kpop entertainment companies that are aggressively looking to enter Japan.
The Loss INFINITE’s L
The biggest news for Woollim Entertainment was the loss of L. L left the agency after 10 years to look for new challenges in his life. While most Kpop entertainment companies can recover from a loss of a group, this one will be difficult.
With Woollim Brings Woollim Entertainment Artists Together
A new project called ‘With Woolim” brought together all of the artists under Woollim Entertainment. They joined together and sang “Relay” to reward their fans from all around the world.
Artists: INFINITE, Lovelyz, JOO, Golden Child, Rocket Punch, Infinite F, Drippin, Joo, Kim Sung-kyu, Nam Woo-hyun, Jang-Dong-woo.
Estimated Market Cap: $65 Million
YouTube Subscribers: 1.84 Million
Facebook Followers: 527,000
Twitter Followers: 425,000
Instagram Followers: 135,000
Pledis Entertainment has had great success with their girl group After School over the past few years. However, many fans see After School as a one-hit-wonder because they have not made a lot of noise ever since “Because of You”. However, still to this day After School has a strong following in China and Japan. More recently Pledis has found great success with boy groups SEVENTEEN and NU’EST.
Big Hit Entertainment Becomes Major Shareholder of Pledis Entertainment
Thanks to their success in 2019-2020, Big Hit Entertainment has acquired Pledis Entertainment. However, Pledis will continue to run independently. Big Hit will help the artists on Pledis get wider overseas exposure through Big Hit’s global networks and platform technologies. Therefore the two Kpop Entertainment companies will not be merged into one label.
“I am thrilled to be joining forces with Big Hit, a company that’s spearheading the Korean entertainment industry. This will mark an opportunity for growth for both the label’s artists and entire staff members. We will do our best to give back the ardent love fans have shown us with quality content and greater success for the artists,” said the Founder of Pledis Entertainment, Han Sung Soo.
Orange Caramel was a success in 2017 but has fizzled out. Pledis’s main group is SEVENTEEN followed by NU’EST. Those groups will be pushed hard in 2021. They both have the potential to have a big global impact. Raina will be focusing a lot on YouTube.
The Pledis YouTube channel has over 1 million subscribers. Therefore, they have started to upload SEVENTEEN content on the Pledis channel in hopes of raising their subscriber numbers.
Artists: NU’EST, SEVENTEEN, Orange Caramel, Raina, Han Dong-geun, Bumzu, Kyulkyung, Yehana, Seungyeon, and After School.
Estimated Market Cap: $60 million
YouTube Subscribers: 1 million
Facebook Followers: 249,000
Twitter Followers: 690,000
Instagram Followers: unkown
Kpop Entertainment Companies 11-20
South Korean Entertainment company DSP Media is one of the oldest Kpop Entertainment companies. It was established in 1991 under the name Daesung Entertainment and it operates a record label, talent agency, music production company, event management, and is a music publishing house. They were known for creating one of the most famous K-pop girl groups of all time in FIN.K.L. During that time DSP was among the level of SM Entertainment. Since then, they have taken a major step back. However, thanks to KARD, they have been able to have a strong 2019/2020.
Burn Up: Challenge to Billboard
DSP Media will launch a new audition program called “Burn Up: Challenge to Billboard”. It will be a reality show that will star April, KARD, and Heo Young-ji. The show was released on JTBC Studio’s YouTube Channel. In addition, JTBC Studios is well-known for producing and distributing popular YouTube content such as “Wassup Man” and “Workman”. The program is now taking online applications. 30 applicants will be selected.
Artists: KARD, Rainbow, April, Oh Jong-hyuk, Mirae, and Heo Young-ji
Estimated Market Cap: $50 million
Youtube Subscribers: 308,000
Facebook Followers: 30,000
Twitter Followers: 78,000
Instagram Followers: 45,000
KPop Entertainment company Fantagio Music was originally called NOA Entertainment. They changed their name to Fantagio in 2011. Their parent company is JC Group which also owns Fantagio Pictures, Madin Entertainment, and Solid C&M. Their most successful group is ASTRO which is a 6 member group that had a great 2019 and 2020. In addition, they had a world tour that included countries like the United States, Japan, Thailand, and Canada. Their first full album came out in 2019 called All Light. Keep an eye on Weki Weki for 2021 as well.
Artists: ASTRO, Weki Weki, Hello Venus, and Diamond.
Estimated Market Cap: $45 million
Youtube Subscribers: 504,000
Facebook Followers: 149,000
Twitter Followers: 338,000
Instagram Followers: 414,000
Korean Entertainment agency KQ Entertainment also manages two sub-labels Seven Seasons and KQ Produce. They had success in 2019 and 2020 thanks to the comeback of ATEEZ which is an 8 member boy group. In addition, they had successful tours all across Europe as well as cities like Moscow, Warsaw, New York, Los Angeles, Thailand, Jakarta, Yokohama, Nagoya, Melbourne, and Sydney. KQ is one of the few Kpop entertainment companies that are aggressively looking to expand globally.
“KQ Entertainment will respond flexibly to the rapidly changing domestic and international market conditions and will develop into a global No.1 music content company,” said CEO of KQ Entertainment Kyu-Wook Kim.
Artists: ATEEZ, Heo Young Saeng, and Block B.
Estimated Market Cap: $40 Million
Youtube Subscribers: 1.42 million
Facebook Followers: 40,800
Twitter Followers: 232,000
Instagram Followers: 215,000
BrandNew Music is a Kpop Entertainment company that mainly focuses on Hip Hop. It was founded by Korean rapper Rhymer back in 2003 under the name IC Entertainment. They have their own indie sub-label called Korean Roulette. Their first idol group AB6IX who had a great 2019 debut. Furthermore, they had a reality show called BrandNewBoys which showed the 5 member group and behind the scenes footage.
Artists: AB6IX, As One, BDC, Eluphant, Miss $, MXM, Bumkey, Kim Yoon-ho, Hanhae, Yang Da-il, Henney, Verbal Jint, Kanto, Tae Wan, KittiB, Rudals, Lee Kang, Rhymer, Lee Kang, MC Gree, and Lee Eun Sang.
Estimated Market Cap: $35 Million
Youtube Subscribers: 750,000
Facebook Followers: 103,000
Twitter Followers: 217,000
Instagram Followers: 408,000
K-pop Entertainment company Jellyfish Entertainment was established by composer and producer Hwang Se-jun in 2007. They had a reality show called MyDOL which was able to form the popular boy group VIXX. Look for VIXX to have a huge 2021 and could end up contending for the best K-pop boy group for 2021. This could potentially move Jellyfish Entertainment into the top 10 in our list for the best Kpop entertainment companies.
Artists: VIXX, Gugudan, Verivery, Park Yoon-ha, Jang Hye-jin, Kim Se-jeong, Leo, and Hyuk.
Estimated Market Cap: $35 Million
Youtube Entertainment: 175,000
Facebook Followers: 86,000
Twitter Followers: 245,000
Instagram Followers: 168,000
RBW (Rainbow Bridge World)
RBW is one of the fastest rising Kpop Entertainment Companies around. Much of that has to do with the success of Mamamoo. They came out in 2014 and was considered to be one of the most successful debuts of all time. Critics loved their R&B/Jazz style. Their 4 Seasons $ Colors project has been a huge hit. In addition, they released their second full album called Reality in Black late in 2019 which has really taken off.
Mamamoo is by far one of the hottest Kpop female groups out there. The success of Mamamoo will be huge in taking RBW into the top 10 of the best Kpop entertainment companies. Therefore, Don’t be surprised if they end up surpassing BLACKPINK at some point in 2020 and beyond.
Artists: Mamaoo, Vromance, Oneus, Onewe, Solar, Wheein, Moonbyul, Jin-Ju, Hwasa
Estimated Market Cap: $30 Million
Youtube Subscribers: 96,000
Facebook Followers: 25,000
Twitter Followers: 38,000
Instagram Followers: 184,000
Kpop Entertainment agency C9 Entertainment operates as a talent agency, record label, and music production company. C9 Entertainment created a new label, J9 Entertainment which focuses on girl groups. Their most popular group is Good Day which is a 10 member girl group. They became very popular in Korea thanks to the reality show Good Day 2 U which aired on Naver V Live.
Later on, they made another reality show called The Unit which had 6 members of Good Day. However, their recent success is due to a 5 member boy group called CIX. Their reality show Hello CIX was a huge hit on V Live. In addition, CIX recently signed with Warner Music Japan for their Japanese debut. They are one of the few Kpop entertainment companies that know how to use reality TV for marketing.
Artists: Good Day, CIX, Cignature, Younha, Cheetah, Juniel, Doko, Bae Jin-young, and Lee Seok-hoon.
Estimated Market Cap: $30 Million
Youtube Entertainment: 160,000
Facebook Followers: 32,000
Twitter Followers: 141,000
Instagram Followers: 432,000
MLD Entertainment is a Kpop Entertainment company formerly known as Duble Kick Entertainment. They formed Momoland through the reality show Finding Momoland. They are a 7 member girl group that has really taken off since 2016. In 2019, Momoland became the first girl group to earn Platinum certification by Gaon Music Chart for their song Bboom Bboom. Furthermore, MLD Entertainment signed a co-management agreement with the Philippine media corporation ABS-CBN.
Momoland Sign with the U.S. based ICM Partners
ICM Partners will be representing Momoland worldwide not including Asia. The timing will be to promote their full-length LP. They will not be able to do global tours due to COVID-19. This is the same for many Kpop entertainment companies. However, once touring resumes, Momoland will be ready.
Estimated Market Cap: $30 Million
Youtube Subscribers: 1.51 million
Facebook Followers: 27,000
Twitter Followers: 41,000
Instagram Followers: 78,000
WM Entertainment is one of the more up-and-coming Kpop Entertainment Companies out there. They created B1A4, ONF, and Oh My Girl. ONF is their most popular group. They had a successful 2019 Asia Tour where they performed in Hong Kong and Taipei. Their new mini-album “SPIN-OFF” and a music video for the title track “Sukhumvit Swimming” have been a huge hit in 2020. It is one of the few K-pop songs that incorporates reggae.
Artists: B1A4, Oh My Girl, ONF, Sandeul, and Oh My Girl Banhana
Estimated Market Cap: $25 Million
Youtube Subscribers: 170,000
Facebook Followers: 18,000
Twitter Followers: 198,000
Instagram Followers: 30,000
Top Media Entertainment
TOP Media is one of the more underrated K-pop Entertainment companies out there. They were founded by Shinhwa member Andy. He was in charge of handling the management of several artists. They usually work with LOEN Entertainment as the distributor of musical releases. They are considered one of the top up-and-coming Kpop Entertainment companies in Korea at the moment.
TOP Media’s biggest success in 2019-2020 was TEEN TOP and UP10TION. TEEN TOP is a group of five members: C.A.P, Chunji, Niel, Ricky, and Changjo. Originally they were a six-member group (with L.Joe, filing for contract termination in February 2017), Teen Top debuted with their first single album “Come into the World” way back in 2010. They are still going strong and look to take that momentum into 2021. However, TOP Media’s highest potential is with UP10TION. Furthermore, the 10 member boy group that has already over 280,000 followers on Instagram.
Kpop Entertainment Companies Look to Online Concerts – TEEN TOP 10 LIVE
The TEEN TOP 10 Live concert was live-streamed on TEEN TOP’s official YouTube Channel which has over 680,000 subscribers. Their channel does a great job of sharing behind-the-scenes stories about the and its songs. One of those videos ended up getting over 2.5 million views in a day.
Artists: TEEN TOP, 100%, UP10TION, MCND, Andy, and Eric
Estimated Market Cap: $25 million
YouTube Subscribers: 694,000
Facebook Followers: 85,000
Twitter Followers: 159,000
Instagram Followers: 30,300