YG Entertainment Inc. is an 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. The company runs also subsidiaries under a separate public traded company - YG PLUS – which operate amongst other things in the field of consumer Goods. YG Entertainment is currently one of the three largest entertainment companies in South Korea.
Notable former artist of YG Entertainment are Wheesung, Epik High, 1TYM, Gummy, Seven, Minzy, Park Bom, 2NE1, Nam Tae-hyun, Lee Jong-suk, and Psy. Currently YG manages artists including Big Bang, CL, Dara, Akdong Musician, Lee Hi, Winner, iKon, Blackpink, Sechskies, Jinusean, One, and Treasure 13 as well as actors and actresses.
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 in 1996. The company's first artist was the hip-hop trio Keep Six, which failed to attract popularity. Subsequently Yang turned his focus to the duo Jinusean and in 1998 to the debut of 1TYM. Both were successful artists which brought YG Entertainment and the hip-hop genre into mainstream Korean music.
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. The second YG Family album was released in 2001, featuring the 13-year-old trainee G-Dragon. In 2003 the first “idol” singer Se7en successfully debuted in both Korea and Japan and tried to cross over into the US music scene, though his US debut failed to gain momentum.
After Se7en's success in Korea and Japan, YG Entertainment formed its first idol group Big Bang in 2006. After initially low success the group made their breakthrough in the following year and in 2009 YG’s first successful girl group 2NE1 debuted. Both groups also gained popularity in Japan.
In 2010, YG Entertainment moved 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. Later that year, the label signed established artist PSY. In 2011 YG eventually was listed in the KOSDAQ.
In July 15th 2012 the video from PSY’s “Gangnam Style” was published on YouTube and it gained worldwide popularity as a viral video. The song charted at number one on the US-iTunes-Charts on September 15th. By November 24, "Gangnam Style" had become the most viewed video in YouTube history, and the first video to surpass a billion views.
Today (May 2019) the video has 3.3 billion views and holds two records in the Guinness World Records: The most likes on a YouTube video (15. Mio, May 2019) and the first video with 2 billion views. The song was credited as the main reason for YG Entertainment's share prices increasing by more than 60%. Due to that the record label filed its first annual report in 2012 with profits of over 50%. Furthermore the song to made South Korea and specially K-Pop known worldwide.
In April 29th 2012 Lee Hi won the first season of “K-pop Star” and signed with YG Entertainment. 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, signed under the agency. In August 2013 five trainees from YG competed as "Team A" on Mnet survival program WIN: Who Is Next. They won the competition in the final episode on October 25th and formed the boy group Winner.
In 2014, YG Entertainment acquired T Entertainment's staff and actors including Cha Seung-won, Im Ye-jin, and Jang Hyun-sung. It furthermore expanded its acting division, through the acquisition of modelling agency K-Plus. In August French luxury giant LVMH's private equity arm announced that it would investing up to US$80 million in YG Entertainment through its private equity company L Capital Asia. By this LVMH became the second-largest investor in YG with an 11.5% stake. Furthermore YG Entertainment also expanded into the beauty industry with the creation of its cosmetics brand Moonshot that year
In 2015, YG Entertainment purchased real estate in Seoul for US$14 million to expand their headquarters. It also invested about US$100 million in a new industrial complex. Two sub-labels, the first led by Tablo and the second headed by YG producers Teddy Park of 1TYM and Kush of Stony Skunk were founded this year. Additionally, the members of the losing team from the reality series WIN: Who is Next regrouped and debuted as iKon, along with a new member.
The first-generation K-pop boy band Sechs Kies signed a contract with YG in May 2016 after they disbanded in May 2000. In the same month, Chinese technology enterprises Tencent and Weiying Technology announced an investment of US$85 million in YG by acquiring 4.5% stake respectively 8.2% stake in the company.
YG Entertainment debuted the four-member Blackpink in 2016, followed by the solo rapper One the following year. Later in that year YG Entertainment launched the first Episode of the show “Mix Nine” on October 29th. In the final of the show a team of nine boys and a team of nine girls compete agiants each other, and the winning team will debut as idols. After the finale YG revealed that the debut for the male winning group had been cancelled as there was no agreement between all involved parties about the length of the promotional phase of the project group. The failure of the show led to incurred losses of US$9 million in 2017, causing JYP Entertainment to surpass YG as the second-highest valued K-pop company.
In May 2018, PSY left the company after eight years and founded his own agency called P Nation on 24.01.2019
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Sources for this article was own research.