The Top 10 K-Pop Entertainment Companies for 2020
|TOP 10] KPOP ENTERTAINMENT COMPANIES | All Their Artists – YouTube|
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 find the latest news regarding K-Pop, here is our list of the top 10 K-Pop News Sites. For those looking to become a K-pop star or looking for some tips for K-pop auditions, please check out our article here.
The Battle for the Top Spot
Most Korean Entertainment companies are listed on KOSDAQ (SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, FNC Entertainment, and CUBE Entertainment). Both SM and YG Entertainment have been the two most dominant over the last decade since the emergence of Bit Hit. However, with all the K-pop scandals that YG faced in 2018, JYP and SM are now battling its second spot. For this ranking, we at Seoulz took into account four factors:
This is our comprehensive list of the Best K-Pop Entertainment Companies in 2020
1.Big Hit Entertainment
Big Hit Entertainment
The success of Big Hit Entertainment is because of ONE group and one group only… BTS. Also, BTS has been having one of the most successful runs of all time. Big Hit 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 most prominent 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 $3.8 billion to the Korean economy so far. 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 won a 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.
Their Love Yourself/Face Yourself Tour has generated over $100 million.
Top Social Media K-Pop Group
They are very connected to their loyal fans, who are called the 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. Big Hit Entertainment has over 31 million subscribers on YouTube, showing its potential market cap once they have their IPO. Therefore, once they do, they will crush all competition. This is why Bit Hit Entertainment 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 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 Big Hit Entertainment Bang Si-Hyuk
Netmarble Holds 26% of Big Hit Entertainment.
Netmarble, one of the biggest gaming companies in Korea, bought 26% of Big Hit Entertainment 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.
BTS will be on an extended break + military service
BTS will be on an extended break to rest and relax. Big Hit Entertainment has not stated how long the suspension will last.
Big Hit Entertainment’s Vision for 2020
Co-CEO of Big Hit Entertainment, Yoon Seok-jun, has big plans for Big Hit Entertainment in 2020. 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 2020 will be to create a new concert-going experience for their fans. It is getting more and more challenging 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 food trucks and other food vendors so fans won’t have to bring their own food. Also, Big Hit will start a lucky draw system for selling their concert tickets. Furthermore, Big Hit Entertainment will launch novels, animated series, comic books, movies, mobile games, Kpop merchandise, and a Korean TV drama in 2020. Lastly, keep an eye on TXT, as they are poised to break out big in 2020 as well.
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 Reverse and Reply. The reverse is a community app that offers fans to interact with each other from around the world. The reply is an e-commerce app, the app lets fans buy merchandise and tickets from their smartphone.
Artists: B.T.S., TXT
Estimated Market Cap: $1.8 Billion
YouTube Subscribers: 31.8 Million
Facebook Followers: 9.7 Million
Twitter Followers: 12.5 Million
Instagram Followers: 22.1 Million
2. JYP Entertainment
JYP was founded in 1997 by JY. 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 12 million subscribers. Their current hottest group, TWICE, has over 3.5 million followers on Twitter and Instagram combined. While the company has focused a lot on China, JYP focused a lot on Japan. TWICE broke all the records for K-pop girl groups in Japan. The loss of Suzy will hurt JYP, but what JYP does best is to find talent from all around the world. They hold auditions all across Asia. JYP was not affected by the K-Pop sex scandal. Pay attention to ITZY and Stray Kids in 2020, and 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, JY. Park.
Entering the Japanese Market
TWICE and GOT7 will continue to focus on Japan as both are gaining a lot of popularity there. But the company will look to support their 2019 projects Mix Nine and Stray Kids. 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 US and European markets in 2019.
Partnership with Sony Music Entertainment’s The Orchard
J.Y.P. Entertainment partnered with The Orchard in 2019. They will work together for global digital and physical distribution. JYP Entertainment will release their content to the US, UK, and more through The Orchard.
Artists: 2PM, TWICE, GOT7, DAY6, 15&, Stray Kids, JJ Project, Jus2, 3Racha, ITZY, JY. Park and Yubin.
Estimated Market Cap: $ 1 Billion
YouTube Subscribers: 14.7 Million
Facebook Followers: 2.4 Million
Twitter Followers: 3.9 Million
Instagram Followers: 3.5 Million
3. SM Entertainment
They are now battling JYP for the 2nd spot; the company focused a lot on the Chinese market in 2019. They will look to continue that in 2020. After getting investments from Alibaba and now Tencent, their popularity grew even more in China. If you check out their youtube channel, they have over 21 million subscribers. Data shows that over 90% of the subscribers are not Korea. Also, the vast majority are from China. 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 Wayne.
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.
SM’s music and video platform sales have grown close to 50% from last year. SM’s yearly YouTube views have reached just under 8 billion by the end of 2018. Their top female K-pop group at the moment is Red Velvet, which is doing their first solo tour in the United States. Their leading male K-pop group Super Junior is doing a tour around South America.
SM is planning to create an American version of Girl’s Generation and a European version of NCT.
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 2020 will be NCT 127 and SuperM, who both had great finishes to the 2019 calendar year.
“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.
Artists: S.E.S., TVXQ, Girl’s Generation, Super Junior, 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: $950 Million
YouTube Subscribers: 21.3 Million
Facebook Followers: 5.6 Million
Twitter Followers; 8.1 Million
Instagram Followers: 7.4 Million
4. YG Entertainment
A terrible year for YG Entertainment., They were hit with the biggest sex scandal to ever hit Korea. We will get to that a little later.
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 considerable partnership/investment from Naver, South Korea’s largest internet portal, for around $90 million (9% equity stake).
Their current top group is Black Pink, who did a world tour in 2019. They have also partnered with Universal Music Group’s representative label, Interscope.
The Seungri Scandal (Burning Sun Scandal)
However, the key to YG will be the comeback of the 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, Big Hit Entertainment may surpass them. Seungri faces jail time after allegations of drug use and sexual assaults 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 significant PR problem they need to deal with. Big Bang is a considerable part of YG’s success. If they fail, so will the company. They alone account for 40% of the companies total sales. BI 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 significant 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 for YG Entertainment to take a step forward.” Said CEO of SM Entertainment, Hwang Bo Kyung.
Their strategy for 2020 will probably be to focus on BLACKPINK’s comeback. However, BLACKPINK cannot replace Big Bang. This should be an exciting year.
Can BLACKPINK Carry YG Entertainment in 2020?
Has BLACKPINK reached its peak potential? YG seems to be pushing for each to have their own successful solo careers. It is unknown if a BLACKPINK comeback will happen in 2020. Jennie’s solo debut was a massive 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 2020…as a group or as solos.
Artists: Jinusean, Sechs Kies, Big Bang, Akdong Musician, Winner, iKon, BLACKPINK, Treasure 13, Hi Suhyun, MOBB, Treasure, Magnum, Eun Ji-won, G-Dragon, TOP, Taeyang, D-Lite, CL, Dara, Lee Hi, Yoon, Mino, Jinu, Bobby, and Jennie.
Estimated Market Cap: $500 Million
YouTube Subscribers: 5.0 Million
Facebook Followers: 3.6 Million
Twitter Followers: 5.7 Million
Instagram Followers: 380,000
5. Stone Music Entertainment
IZ ONEStone Music Entertainment is a privately-held company under CJ ENM.
“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.
Significant Years from IZ*ONE, and Fromis_9
IZ*ONE had a massive 2019, 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 for 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, Trudy, and Mia), Swing Entertainment (X1 and Kim Jae-hwan)
Estimated Market Cap: $300 Million
Youtube Subscribers: 7.7 million
Facebook Followers: 557,000
Twitter Followers: 98,600
Instagram Followers: 33,700
6. FNC Entertainment
For FNC Entertainment, 2018 was terrible. 2017 was better. 2018 brought a lot of scandals with FT Island and AOA. The company itself seems to lack leadership, and it seems to have a lot of corruption and is one of the low trending K-pop entertainment companies.
In 2017 things ran much smoother. FNC started to focus more on dance. FNC has been known for cool/hipe bands like CNBLUE, SF9, and AOA, who have all transitioned into more of a dance group.
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 its TV talent than singers. This might be a good strategy moving forward as they will not 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 down the middle. SF9 is who FNC will focus the most on in 2019. 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 will leave the military 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 most prominent rising star for FNC Entertainment. He was on the hit Korean drama “Something in the Rain.” 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: $120 million
YouTube Subscribers: 668,000
Facebook Followers: 659,000
Twitter Followers: 479,900
Instagram Followers: 21,100
7. Cube Entertainment
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 their 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, PENTAGON and CLC needed to pick up the slack, which they could not 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.
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 massive hit as it offered their fans a mobile view of the concert on the CUBE TV Hangtime app. The show 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. Also, the CUBE TV Hangtime app can be downloaded to watch live and archived content anytime and anywhere from their mobile phones.
Will Cube Entertainment get Sold in 2020?
D’Live, the owners of Cube Entertainment, is in talks to sell Cube Entertainment to Kakao. It is estimated that Cube Entertainment is heavily in debt, even it has shown improved earnings in both 2018 and 2019. This is mainly due to the success of (G)IDLE and BTOB.
Artists: BTOB, C.L.C., Pentagon, (G)IDLE, A Train to Autumn, Jo Kwon, Jang Hyun-Seung, and Yoo Seon-ho
Estimated Market Cap: $100 Million
YouTube Subscribers: 2.2 Million
Facebook Followers: 608,000
Twitter Followers: 1 Million
Instagram Followers: 293,000
8. Starship Entertainment
FAVE Entertainment was formerly known as LOEN Entertainment. 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 2019 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. 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 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. Boyfriend, solo artists K.Will, Soyou, and Jeong Sewoon will perform various ways, such as broadcasting. They come in at 8 on our list of the top K-pop entertainment companies.
Artists: K.Will, Soyou, Jeong Sewoon, MONSTA X, and Cosmic Girls
Estimated Market Cap: $90 million
YouTube Subscribers: 3.98 Million
Facebook Followers: 770,000
Twitter Followers: 542,300
Instagram Followers: 407,000
9. Woollim Entertainment
Woollim Entertainment merged with SM Entertainment through SM C&C in 2013. However, three years later, the two companies officially separated. Woollim Entertainment is now an independent company. Their prominent 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. Currently, members are serving in the Korean military.
What can you expect in 2020? More of Golden Child? The main singer Choi Sung Yoon could be the next big K-Pop star in 2020. 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 significant acquisition of Woollim was Takahashi Juri of the Japanese idol group AKB48 for the new 6 member girl group Rocket Punch. This could be their long term plan to break into the Japanese market. They are one of the significant K-pop 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.
Artists: INFINITE, Lovelyz, J.O.O., Golden Child, Rocket Punch, Infinite F, Joo, Kim Sung-kyu, Nam Woo-Hyun, Jang-Dong-woo.
Estimated Market Cap: $80 Million
YouTube Entertainment: 1.66 Million
Facebook Followers: 524,000
Twitter Followers: 414,500
Instagram Followers: 131,000
10. Pledis Entertainment
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 and still ranks in the mid of Korean song charts. More recently, Pledis has found great success with boy groups SEVENTEEN and NU’EST. Thanks to their success in 2019, Big Hit Entertainment has acquired Pledis Entertainment. However, Pledis will continue to run independently.
Orange Caramel was a success in 2017 but has fizzled out. Pledis’s primary group is SEVENTEEN, followed by NU’EST. Those groups will be pushed hard in 2019. They both have the potential to have a significant global impact. Raina will be focusing a lot on YouTube.
The Pledis YouTube channel has 850,000 subscribers. 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: $65 million
YouTube Subscribers: 868,000
Facebook Followers: 223,000
Twitter Followers: 554,000
Instagram Followers: 2 Million