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YG Entertainment Inc. (Korean: YG 엔터테인먼트) is a South Korean entertainment company established in 1996 by Yang Hyun-suk. The company operates as a record label, talent agency, music production company, event management and concert production company, and music publishing house. In addition, the company operates a number of subsidiary ventures under a separate public traded company - YG PLUS, which includes a clothing line, a golf management agency, and a cosmetics brand. It is currently one of the largest entertainment companies in South Korea.
In March 1996, Yang Hyun-suk, a former member of the first-generation K-pop group Seo Taiji and Boys, founded YG Entertainment along with his younger brother Yang Min-suk. The company's first artist was the hip-hop trio Keep Six. When they failed to attract popularity, Yang turned his focus to the duo Jinusean and in 1998 to the debut of 1TYM. Both were successful artists that Yang credits for bringing YG Entertainment, and the hip hop genre, into the Korean music mainstream.
In 1999, YG Entertainment's artists released a collaborative album under the name YG Family. The label followed with releases from artists such as Perry, Swi.T, Big Mama, Lexy, Gummy and Wheesung. It also established the "YG Underground" label, which housed 45RPM and Stony Skunk. In 2001, a second YG Family album was released. Among others, it featured the 13-year-old G-Dragon, who was then a trainee.
The agency found success in both Korea and Japan with its first "idol" singer Seven in 2003. Due to his success, Seven became the company's first artist to attempt to cross over into the US music scene, though his US debut failed to gain momentum.
Following Seven's success, YG Entertainment turned its attention to forming the its first idol group Big Bang in 2006. Despite an initial lukewarm reception, the group's breakthrough the following year and their consistent popularity have made them one of the biggest and most bankable boy bands in the world. Their debut was followed by the girl group 2NE1 in 2009. Similarly to Seven, both groups have also conducted successful careers in Japan.
In 2010, YG Entertainment made a highly publicized move into a new building, while the old headquarters became a training facility. In the same year, the company unsuccessfully applied for listing on the stock exchange; it was suspected that this was because the company had too few active music groups and an unstable cash flow, despite an increase in earnings in 2009. Later that year, the label signed established artist Psy.
YG Entertainment went public on the KOSDAQ in 2011 and filed its first annual report in 2012 with a net gross of over 50%. Also in 2012, the label signed rapper and producer Tablo, leader of the hip hop group Epik High, relaunching his career after a musical hiatus following his Stanford controversy.
2012 brought YG international recognition when Psy's "Gangnam Style" gained worldwide popularity as a viral video. On August 14, "Gangnam Style" ranked first on YouTube's 'Most Viewed Videos' monthly chart, and on August 21, it officially charted at No.1 on the iTunes Music Video Charts. This feat was a first for a South Korean artist. By November 24, "Gangnam Style" had become the most viewed video in YouTube history. The song was credited as the main reason for YG Entertainment's share prices increasing by more than 60 per cent.
Also in 2012, Epik High signed with YG Entertainment, following the success of its frontman Tablo under the company. Additionally, Yang Hyun-suk made his television comeback as a judge on the reality singing competition K-pop Star, where he signed a record deal with the runner-up of the show's first season, Lee Hi. Other participants on the show were signed as potential members of the label's future boy groups. On the second season of the show both the winners, sibling duo Akdong Musician as well as runner-up Bang Ye-dam were signed under the agency.
2013 saw the screening of the reality television program WIN: Who is Next, in which two teams of male trainees competed against each other for the chance to sign a contract with the label to debut as the company's next boy band. The conclusion of the reality series saw the emergence of the boy band Winner, who debuted in 2014.
In 2014, YG Entertainment acquired T Entertainment's staff and actors including Cha Seung-won, Im Ye-jin, and Jang Hyun-sung. Additionally, through the acquisition of modelling agency K-Plus, it expanded its acting division through the acting debuts of models Lee Sung-kyung and Nam Joo-hyuk. YG also signed a contract with actress Choi Ji-woo. Later, French luxury giant LVMH's private equity arm, L Capital Asia, announced that it would be investing up to US$80 million in YG Entertainment. Headquartered in Singapore, L Capital Asia would become the second-largest investor in YG with an 11.5% stake, second only to Yang Hyun-suk's 28%. In 2014 YG Entertainment also expanded into the beauty industry with the creation of the cosmetics brand Moonshot.
In 2015, YG Entertainment invested nearly US$100 million in a new Gyeonggi-do based industrial complex, housing recording studios and performance facilities, as well as a recreational tourism complex. The complex is slated to be complete by December 2018. Real estate in Seoul worth KRW16 billion (US$14 million) was also purchased for the purpose of expanding their headquarters. In that year, the company also saw the creation of two sub-labels, the first led by Tablo and the second headed by YG producers Teddy Park of 1TYM and Kush of Stony Skunk. Additionally, the members of the losing team from the reality series WIN: Who is Next, who were forced to disband after losing, regrouped and debuted as iKON, along with a new member.
Sixteen years after the group's disbandment, first-generation K-pop boy band SECHSKIES signed a contract with YG in May 2016 to relaunch their career. In the same month, Chinese technology enterprises Tencent and Weiying Technology announced an investment of US$85 million in YG. Weiying took a 8.2% stake in the company and Tencent a 4.5% stake. YG later added Lee Jong-suk. Kang Dong-won, and Kim Hee-jung to their list of actors.
In August 2016, YG Entertainment debuted their newest girl group (following 2NE1 in 2009), the four-member BLACKPINK.
In November 2016, YG Entertainment announced the disbandment of 2NE1 and the departure of Nam Tae-hyun from Winner.
- YG Entertainment Japan
- YG Underground
- The Black Label
YG Entertainment's records are distributed by the following:
- KT Music – South Korea
- YGEX – Japan
- BEC-TERO Music – Thailand
- Trinity Optima Production – Indonesia
- Tencent - China (online only)
- WMG – rest of Asia (Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.)
In March 2010, seven record labels in Korea (3 being the Biggest among all agencies )(YG Entertainment, S.M. Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, Star Empire Entertainment, Medialine, CAN Entertainment, and Music Factory) jointly established KMP Holdings, a service platform aiming to provide digital music distribution and television program productions. It was speculated that this was in challenge to the duopoly on music distribution in Korea by Mnet Media and LOEN Entertainment. In November 2012, KMP Holdings was acquired by KT Music. In January 2014, the seven agencies behind KMP Holdings formed a collective bond partnership and purchased 13.48% of KT Music's stocks, leaving parent company KT Corporation with 49.99%.
YGEX was established on April 12, 2011, as a partnership between AVEX and YG Entertainment for the promotion and release of all YG Entertainment's material in Japan. Prior to this, YG Entertainment's Japanese releases had been in partnership with Nexstar Records, a Nippon Columbia label that managed Japanese releases for Se7en, and Universal Music (which signed a three-year exclusive contract in 2008 for Big Bang's Japanese releases.)
- Epik High
- Akdong Musician
- Kang Seung-yoon
- Lee Hi
- Sandara Park
- Yang Hyun Suk
- Eun Jiwon
- 45RPM (2005–unknown)
- Big Mama (2003–2007)
- Gummy (2003–2014)
- Moogadang (2006–unknown)
- Minzy (2009–2016)
- Se7en (2003–2015)
- Soul Star (2005–2007)
- Swi.T (2002–2004)
- Stony Skunk (2005–2011)
- Wheesung (2002–2006)
- XO (2004–unknown)
- YMGA (2008–2011)
- 2NE1 (2009–2016)
- Seungri (2006-2019)
- Cha Seung-won
- Choi Ji-woo
- Jung Hye Young
- Kal So Won
- Kang Dong Won
- Kang Hye Jung
- Kang Seung Yoon
- Kim Sae Ron
- Ku Hye Sun
- Lee Jong Suk
- Lee Soo Hyuk
- Lee Sung Kyung
- Nam Joo Hyuk
- Son Ho Jun
- Yoo In Na
- Huh E Jae (2008–2011)
- Jung Sung Il (unknown–2011)
Main article: YG Entertainment discography
- YG Family discography
- Famillenium (1999)
- Y.G. Best of Album (1999)
- Why Be Normal? (2002)
- Color of the Soul Train Live Concert (2003)
- YG 10th (2006)
- 2011 YG Family Concert (2012)
- 2014 YG Family Concert in Seoul (2014)