Meet Bang Si-hyuk, the man who catapulted K-pop bands like BTS to fame


The title for making the best music in the world – not “one of the best” – would undoubtedly go to the English rock band The Beatles.

Like all great artists, it took them a while to get off the ground, which only happened after the late Sir George Martin gave the legendary four-member band the chance to record for a small label. And the Beatles never looked back. Decades later and miles away, another Asian man is building a similar legacy. Bang Si-hyuk, a South Korean record producer in the country’s multibillion-dollar music market, is the mastermind behind BTS.

Born in Seoul on August 9, 1972, Bang Si-hyuk began his career as a music composer after joining Seoul National University. In college, he obtained the second highest GPA in the aesthetic department.

He then teamed up with producer Park Jin-young, director of JYP Entertainment, and quickly rose to fame with the company as chief composer. During his time at JYP, Bang was the originator of the compositions of the first god of the first generation K-Pop group. One of his most important associations during this time was with iconic Korean singer-actor Jung Ji-hoon, better known as Rain.

Known by his nickname “Hitman” from his successful career at JYP, Bang started his own record production company, Big Hit Entertainment, in 2005. The company name was inspired by his own nickname.

The business started out at a slow pace. According to reports, artists would come to play games on the company’s Nintendo Wii in the office, while Bang would go on to write hit songs such as K-pop band 2AM. LOVE, former member of T-ara Soyeon’s What do we need to finish? and the beast The shock of the new era.

However, the business was going nowhere. Big Hit Entertainment is almost gone bankruptcy in 2007. He also struggled to demonstrate an artist’s personality in his music, which other musicians were able to do.

Then Bang stumbled across a 15 year old boy’s demo and immediately signed it under his label. That boy was RM, now the leader of BTS whose other members include Suga, Jin, J-Hope, Jimin, Jungkook and V. By 2010, Bang had started to rally a group around RM under the working name of Bulletproof Boy Scouts. , and overcoming his previous insecurities.

Image credit: Dong-A Ilbo / AFP

In an interview with TIME magazine, Bang said he wanted to build a hip-hop team but switched to the K-Pop idol model, after considering the business aspect. He completely transformed the style, purpose and personality of the group in two years, giving the group a distinct image from other K-Pop idol groups of the time. In doing so, he allowed the group to have more freedom and to express themselves publicly.

Although the K-Pop group Big Bang have many similarities when it comes to their philosophy, style, and conduct, Big Hit Entertainment has managed to aggressively market BTS as the ideal idol group that could sympathize with their fans and listeners can find a comforting voice in their songs. .

In 2013, BTS launched with their single album 2 Cool 4 School. What has followed since is a boon for Big Hit Entertainment and Bang, and a cultural surge that has made Korea the place with one of the hottest music scenes in the world.

BTS’s success saw Bang’s company quickly rise to a powerful position in music and business. After going public in October 2020, Big Hit Entertainment changed its name to Hybe in March 2021 and expanded its business portfolio to go beyond just an entertainment company. In April, Hybe acquired Ithaca Holdings, the label behind Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, for around $ 1 billion (RM 4.2 billion). Bang has other K-pop groups under his wings as well, including Enhypen, Tomorrow X Together aka TXT, and all-girl group GFriend.

Bang himself is now among the best players at the table. At the time of the initial public offering, Bang’s value was around $ 1.5 billion. In July, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index reported that Bang was worth $ 3.2 billion, as its shares rose 131% in value in just nine months. That same month, Bang stepped down as CEO of Hybe to focus on music production and his role as chairman of the board. Jiwon Park succeeded him as CEO.

Bang Si-hyuk’s stratospheric rise has been directly proportional to the success of BTS, which today has many “premieres” to its credit, most notably being the first K-Pop act to remain on the Billboard 200 for a year. full, completed in 2019.

Still, Bang Si-hyuk is modest about his role behind BTS’s fame. He said TIME that he believed that BTS ‘success in the United States was not their “brilliant strategy” or that they were a “perfect fit”, but had more to do with luck as the group succeeded in fill a gap that young Americans thought was not addressed.

(Principal and Featured Images: SeongJoon Cho / POOL / AFP)


About Dawn Valle

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