BTS have exited their partnership with Sony Music‘s Columbia Records to sign with Universal Music Group (UMG), according to a report from Billboard and confirmed by Variety. BTS’s new licensing deal is with UMG’s Geffen division, with INgrooves handling distribution.
The report comes just months after HYBE (formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment) and UMG, the world’s largest music company, announced a strategic partnership to “increase opportunities for artists through innovation and technology, whilst expanding the global reach of K-Pop music and culture around the world.” One result of this partnership has been the addition of UMG artists to the community-based platform Weverse. Teams from HYBE, UMG, and Geffen Records will also work closely with a new label based in Los Angeles.
Furthermore, HYBE’s Bang Si Hyuk and Scooter Braun, whose Ithaca Holdings was acquired by HYBE earlier this year, are reportedly close with UMG CEO Lucian Grange. The original report stated that Bang and BTS were rumored to have an unsatisfactory business relationship with Columbia CEO Ron Perry. Perry contributed as co-writer and co-producer to BTS’s song “Butter.”
In 2018, BTS signed a distribution deal with Columbia Records and The Orchard, a distribution subsidiary of Sony Music. While Columbia Records handled BTS’s North American distribution, UMG managed their releases in other territories such as Japan.
Other artists under UMG include SEVENTEEN, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, and Rihanna.
No official announcement has been made by HYBE or UMG as of yet.