In a move that has taken the music world by storm, BTS is leaving its distribution deal with Columbia Records and Sony Music’s The Orchard to partner with Universal Music Group.
The news was first reported by Billboard and confirmed by Variety. There are no official data released yet by the Korean band or by the label that went public a month ago.
The license agreement will be with Universal’s Geffen division, with distribution by INgrooves, according to have been able to find out the American media.
Although surprising because it was not in the plans to happen now, the measure has a precedent: in February 2021 there was a strategic partnership between Universal Music and HYBE (formerly called Big Hit Entertainment). The agreement included the formation of a joint seal that, in retrospect, was the starting point for this decision.
Universal Musical Group already distributes BTS in other territories, like Japan, for example.
BTS had signed with Sony for distribution in the United States in 2018. But both HYBE’s Bang Si-hyuk and Scooter Braun, whose Ithaca Holdings was bought by HYBE, are known to be close to Universal CEO Lucian Grainge.
The Columbia record label played a major role in BTS’s greatest hits such as “Dynamite” and “Butter.” Columbia CEO Ron Perry is even a co-writer and co-producer of the band’s latest hit, along with a group of hitmakers like Rob Grimaldi, Stephen Kirk and Alex Bilowitz.
BTS’s latest single, “My Universe,” a collaboration with Coldplay, debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It was the sixth time that BTS topped the list, all six times since September 2020. “My Universe” came out on Coldplay’s label, Parlophone / Atlantic, part of the Warner Music Group.
Although the group eventually canceled the US leg of the “Map of the World” tour, BTS is ready to return to the stadiums. In fact, four shows are already on sale at the LA SoFi Stadium, in Los Angeles, scheduled for November 27 and 28 and December 1 and 2.
The event in Los Angeles will be the band’s first concert with its fans, the so-called Army, since 2019, when the group went live at a show in Seoul.