K-pop giant SM Entertainment and Sony Music-owned RCA Records announced a new partnership at a press conference in Seoul on Monday (September 4) for the release of the debut single from boy group RIIZE.
In a statement, SM said that it’s a “rare occurrence” for a K-pop group to sign with a major US record label before making their official debut.
The news arrives amidst an explosion of partnerships between Korean music companies and US-based major record company subsidiaries.
Just last week, Korean entertainment powerhouse HYBE and Universal Music Group‘s Geffen Records announced the finalists for their new global girl group, marking another South Korean music recording company partnership with a US-based major-owned label.
SM unveiled the seven members of RIIZE – Shotaro, Eunseok, Sungchan, Wonbin, Seunghan, Sohee and Anton – last month, and it is claimed that the group has become the fastest K-pop group ever to reach 1 million followers on Instagram.
SM also released a “sneak peek” at the group in the form of the single Memories, which is the B-side of their bilingual (English and Korean) debut single, titled Get a Guitar, which is out now and also available as a physical product.
According to SM Entertainment, the physical single surpassed 1 million domestic preorders (1.03 million) ahead of its release on September 4.
SM’s push to internationalize its K-pop acts – and especially to bring them to US audiences – was evident not only in their choice of label partner, but in the fact that RIIZE made its live stage debut at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles last month.
“RIIZE is ushering in an exciting new era of K-Pop,” Joseph Chang, CEO of SM and Kakao Entertainment America and Chief Business Officer of SM Entertainment, said in a statement.
“We are thrilled to partner with the amazing team at RCA and look forward to making history together.”
RCA Records Chairman and CEO Peter Edge added: “RIIZE are incredibly talented and versatile artists and we are excited to welcome them to the RCA Family and work together with the amazing SM team.”
RCA Records COO John Fleckenstein predicted that RIIZE will “break new boundaries in global pop with an entirely fresh perspective. We are proud to partner with the incredible team at SM Entertainment and their incredible track record of artist development.”
“RIIZE is ushering in an exciting new era of K-Pop. We are thrilled to partner with the amazing team at RCA and look forward to making history together.”
Joseph Chang, SM and Kakao Entertainment America
The new partnership is part of a broader campaign by SM and its new largest shareholder, Kakao Entertainment, to gain a foothold in the world’s largest music market. The two companies announced last month that they are integrating their North American divisions.
“RIIZE are incredibly talented and versatile artists and we are excited to welcome them to the RCA Family and work together with the amazing SM team.”
Peter Edge, RCA Records
SM Entertainment isn’t the only K-pop label with big ambitions in the US market.
HYBE, South Korea’s largest K-pop label, has made acquisitions in the US record industry, including, most recently Atlanta-based QC Media Holdings (Quality Control), and is reportedly raising funds for further M&A in the market. Last week, HYBE unveiled the 20 finalists who will vie for a position in the girl group the label is developing in partnership with Geffen Records.
Earlier this year, K-pop label JYP Entertainment Imperial announced an expansion of its strategic alliance with Universal Music Group’s Republic Records, in which the labels will collaborate globally across JYP’s entire talent roster on distribution, A&R, marketing and business development.Music Business Worldwide