YG Entertainment

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Y.G. Entertainment Inc.
Native name
YG 엔터테인먼트
Traded as KRX: 122870
Founded February 24, 1996; 20 years ago (1996-02-24)
Area served
Key people
  • Music
  • Entertainment
Revenue Increase US$150 million (2012)[2]
Increase US$28 million (2012)
Increase US$37.5 million (2012)
Number of employees
Website ygfamily.com

YG Entertainment (Korean: YG 엔터테인먼트) is a South Korean entertainment company founded in 1996 in Seoul, South Korea. "YG" is an abbreviation of "Yang Goon", in reference to executive director and founder Yang Hyun-suk.[3][4] Founded as a record label, the company currently also operates a talent agency, clothing line, cosmetics brand, event management and concert production company, and other subsidiary ventures. It is one of the "big three" most prominent record labels in the K-pop industry, alongside S.M. Entertainment and JYP Entertainment.[5]

Formerly home to hip-hop group 1TYM, its current roster of artists include some of the biggest K-pop acts to gain international fame, such as Psy, Big Bang and 2NE1, as well as actors and actresses including Kang Dong-won, Choi Ji-woo, Cha Seung-won, and Lee Jong-suk. In terms of revenue contribution, Big Bang is the company's biggest act; their 2015 Made albums sold 4.2 million copies in China[6] and over 13.3 million copies throughout Asia.[7] Official content posted by YG and its artists on YouTube have cumulatively garnered more than 7 billion views.[8]


1996–2005: Hip-hop roots and early success[edit]

In March 1996, Yang Hyun-suk, a former member of the "legendary" Korean group Seo Taiji and Boys, founded YG Entertainment along with his younger brother Yang Min-suk.[4][9] The company's first artist was the three-piece hip-hop group, Keep Six. When the group failed to attract popularity, YG turned its attention to the duo Jinusean, whom Yang credits as the "true beginning of YG in Korea's mainstream music market."[4] This was followed by 1TYM in 1998, who is often credited as the "first true hip-hop idol group" for "introduc[ing] hip-hop style music to the Korean mainstream."[10] Yang later admitted that though he did not "particularly like hip-hop music", he was "surrounded by hip-hop. That was how Jinusean and 1TYM could be so successful: we all shared hip-hop in our spirit."[4]

In 1999, the company's artists released their first collaboration album under the name YG Family. The label followed with releases from artists such as Perry, Swi.T, Big Mama, Lexy, Gummy and Wheesung. YG also created 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.[11]

The agency found success in both Korea and Japan with its first idol singer Seven in 2003; at the peak of his career, he was labeled as the rival of Rain, a fellow popular singer-actor.[12] Due to his success, Seven became the first artist under YG to attempt to break into the American music scene, though his US debut failed to gain momentum.[13]

2006–2011: Mainstream breakthrough[edit]

Due to Seven's success, YG turned its attention to forming the company's first idol group Big Bang in 2006. Despite an initial lukewarm reception, the group's breakthrough the following year and their consistent success and popularity have made them one of the biggest and most bankable boy bands in the world.[14] This was followed by the girl goup 2NE1 in 2009, who were initially viewed as the female counterpart to Big Bang[15] but have since found success in their own right.[16][17] Similarly to Seven, both groups have also conducted successful careers in Japan.[18][19][20] Additionally, their members have pursued endeavors outside of their bands as solo artists, actors/actresses, and hosts for variety shows.

In 2010, YG made a highly publicized move into a new building, while the old headquarters became a training facility.[21][22] That same year, the company unsuccessfully applied for the first time 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.[23] Later that year, YG signed on established artist Psy,[24] who is also an old friend of Yang.[25]

The following year, YG re-applied and eventually passed the Stock Exchange Commission’s screening to go public on the KOSDAQ on November 23, 2011.[26] The stock price opened at double the anticipated value. The company filed its first annual report in 2012 with a net gross of over 50%.[27] That same year, YG acquired rapper and producer Tablo, leader of the hip hop group Epik High, to relaunch his career after a musical hiatus following his Stanford controversy.[28]

2012–present: International recognition and business expansion[edit]

YG Entertainment building in Seoul

2012 brought YG international recognition when Psy's song "Gangnam Style'' gained worldwide popularity. On August 14, "Gangnam Style" ranked first on YouTube's 'Most Viewed Videos' monthly chart;[29] on August 21, 2012, "Gangnam Style" officially charted No. 1 on the iTunes Music Video Charts, overtaking Justin Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me" and Katy Perry's "Wide Awake"; this feat was the first for a South Korean artist. After the video went viral, celebrities quickly jumped on board, with Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Tom Cruise taking to Twitter to share their delight.[30] On November 24, 2012, "Gangnam Style" became the most viewed video in YouTube history, surpassing the previous most watched video, Justin Bieber's "Baby." The number of views were achieved about eleven times faster than Bieber's.[31] The song was credited as the main reason for YG's share prices increasing more than 60 percent.[32]

The success of Tablo's career under YG in 2011 led his band Epik High to sign a contract with the company the following year.[33] Additionally, Yang 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.[34] 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 (also known as AKMU), and runner-up, Bang Ye-dam, signed exclusive contracts with YG.[35][36] 2013 saw the screening of the reality television program, WIN: Who is Next, in which two teams of male singers competed against each other for the chance to sign a contract with the label to debut as the next boy band under YG. The conclusion of the reality series saw the emergence of the boy band Winner, who debuted in 2014; the losing team was disbanded.[37]

In 2014, YG acquired T Entertainment's staff and actors including Cha Seung-won, Im Ye-jin, and Jang Hyun-sung.[38] 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.[39] YG also signed a contract with actress Choi Ji-woo.[40][41][42][43] 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%.[44] YG also expanded its endeavor to include cosmetics, releasing the cosmetic brand moonshot.[45][46]

In 2015, YG Entertainment invested nearly US$100 million in a new Gyeonggi-do based industrial complex, which will house recording studios and performance facilities, as well as a recreational tourism complex. The complex is slated to be complete by December 2018.[47] Real estate in Seoul worth KRW16 billion (US$14 million) was also purchased for the purpose of expanding their headquarters.[48] In that year, the company also saw the creation of two sub-labels, the first led by Tablo[49] and the second headed by YG producers Teddy Park of 1TYM and Kush of Stony Skunk.[50] Additionally, the members of the losing team from the reality series WIN: Who is Next, who were forced to disband after losing, also regrouped and debuted as iKon, along with a new member.[51]

Sixteen years after the group's disbandment, first generation K-pop boy band Sechs Kies signed a contract with YG in May 2016 to relaunch their career.[52][53][54] The same month, Tencent and Weiying Technology announced an investment of US$85 million in YG. Weiying will have a 8.2% stake in the company and Tencent a 4.5% stake. YG later added Lee Jong-suk.[55] Kang Dong-won,[56] and Kim Hee-jung[57] to their list of actors and actresses. The company also plans to create a Chinese joint venture.[58]

In late June 2016, YG Entertainment announced the group name and lineup of their second girl group (following 2NE1 in 2009), the four-member BLACKPINK.[59]


Music distribution[edit]

YG Entertainment's records are distributed by the following:

  • KT Music in South Korea
  • YGEX, a collaboration label with AVEX in Japan
  • BEC-TERO Music in Thailand
  • Trinity Optima Production in Indonesia
  • WMG in rest of Asia (Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.)

KT Music[edit]

In March 2010, seven of the biggest talent agencies in Korea - YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, Star Empire Entertainment, Medialine, CAN Entertainment, and Music Factory - established a joint venture known as KMP Holdings (Korean Music Power). KMP Holdings is a service platform that aims to provide fair digital music distribution, music service, and television program productions.[60] Many believe this was held to challenge the duopoly on music distribution in Korea by Mnet Media and LOEN Entertainment.

In November 2012, KMP Holdings was acquired by KT Music.[61] The seven agencies behind KMP Holdings formed a collective bond partnership on January 2014. Collectively they purchased 13.48% of KT Music's stocks, leaving the parent company KT Corporation with 49.99%.[62]


YG Entertainment's first releases in the Japanese market were in partnership with Nexstar Records, a Nippon Columbia label that managed Japanese releases for Se7en.[63] In 2008, Big Bang signed a three-year exclusive contract with Universal Music for the promotion and distribution of their Japanese releases.[64]

On April 12, 2011, YGEX was established as a partnership between AVEX and YG Entertainment for the promotion and release of all YG Entertainment's material in Japan. Current artists under YGEX include all active YG Entertainment artists.[65]

Other partnerships[edit]

United Asia Management[edit]

In April 2011, United Asia Management was formed as a joint talent management agency between YG, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, KeyEast, AMENT, and Star J Entertainment.[66]

Live Nation[edit]

YG Entertainment first collaborated with Californian concert promotion company Live Nation to produce the Big Bang Alive Galaxy Tour 2012. Live Nation subsequently directed the 2NE1 New Evolution World Tour 2012 and the G-Dragon 2013 1st World Tour: One of a Kind. General Manager of Live Nation Asia, Mats Brandt, said in an interview that the company considered Big Bang to have the most potential to become a "global artist".[67]

Asiana Airlines[edit]

As one of two of Korea’s major airlines, Asiana Airlines signed a deal with YG Entertainment on January 2013 to provide transportation to its artists to and from domestic and international destinations at no cost. In return, YG Entertainment will be placing the airline’s logo throughout their international concerts and tours.[68]



In 2015, YG Entertainment began to expand its operations by creating independent sub-labels creatively differentiated from the main label, with President Yang Hyun-suk pursuing the goal of reaching out to a wider range of genres. Yang Hyun-suk has also indicated a need to expand because of the increasing number of artists joining the main label.[69]


HIGHGRND (read as 'HIGHGROUND') is an independent sub-label headed by Epik High's Tablo, who acts as president and creative director. Announced in March 2015, the label was set up by Yang Hyun-suk under the YG Entertainment umbrella as part of a long-term goal to reach out to the Korean indie and alternative scene. YG therefore has a primarily supportive role focused on financial assistance, administrative work, and marketing.

On June 21, 2015, Tablo introduced the band Hyukoh via Instagram as the label's first official artist.[70] Its current roster also includes producer Code Kunst, one-man band The Black Skirts,[71] Millic, Punchnello, OFFONOFF, and rapper Incredivle.[72]

HIGHGRND's formation marked a departure from Yang Hyun-suk's central role as Executive Producer of all YG albums. Nevertheless, it remains closely connected to the main label, with Tablo taking a chief role in the production of Lee Hi's second album.[73]

The Black Label[edit]

Following the successful formation of HIGHGRND, on September 22, 2015, YG Entertainment announced the creation of another independent sub-label, to be headed by YG Producer Teddy Park and Kush of Stony Skunk.[74] Teddy, a member of former YG hip-hop group 1TYM and regular producer for both Big Bang and 2NE1, would be given increased creative agency as head of the new sub-label. Moreover, Kush (who had previously been an exclusive YG producer before leaving in 2012 to pursue personal musical activities) would return to YG to co-head. The label's "music will be different from YG’s usual sound, as [Teddy and Kush] will probably seek out a different type of artists." and currently houses Korea's second best selling artist of 2015 - after BIGBANG - Zion.T.

Other subsidiaries[edit]

YG K-Plus[edit]

YG K-Plus is a partnership between YG Entertainment and Korean model management company K-Plus. The merger was announced on February 18, 2014 by co-CEO Yang Min-suk. As of 2014, K-plus model agency housed over 170 models, including Kang Seung-hyun, Park Hyeong-seop, Lee Sung-kyung, Nam Joo-hyuk, and Choi Sora.[75] Since the partnership, K-Plus models have appeared in YG recording artists' music videos, as well as YG-owned brands' advertisement campaigns. YG Entertainment has also reportedly provided YG K-Plus models with roles in TV dramas, notably Nam Joo-hyuk in Who Are You: School 2015 and Lee Sung-kyung in It's Okay, That's Love, and have formally transitioned models to their acting division.[76]


NONA9ON is a luxury street-wear brand founded in early 2012 by YG Entertainment and Samsung’s textile subsidiary company Cheil Industries. Originally named Natural Nine, the brand was revamped before launch.[77][78]

NONA9ON does not have its own permanent stores and operates instead by selling its products through other retailers in pop-up stores. According to a YG representative on September 15, 2014, after NONA9ON opened its first pop-up store at Apgujeong’s Galleria Department Store on September 12, the entire F/W 2014 stock sold out completely by September 14, within a mere two days. The storage had been filled with items for two weeks, a testament to NONA9ON’s power among consumers and success on the market.[citation needed]

Following the success of NONA9ON in its Korean domestic debut, the clothing line also quickly sold out in its first international pop-up stores in Italy's 10 Corso Como shops in Milan, Seoul and Shanghai, as well as in I.T shops in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Pop-up stores in the Seoul Galleria Department Store, 10 Corso Como Cheongdam and Avenual, and BEAKER Cheongdam and Hannam were also made accessible to consumers within the first week of release. Currently, NONA9ON clothes are sold through online shop Beakerstore. NONA9ON also plans to open a new pop-up store at JayCo in Taiwan.[79]


Moonshot, stylized as moonshot, is a cosmetics brand launched by YG Entertainment on October 2, 2014.[80] Developed with China's Huanya Group and in partnership with the cosmetics manufacturing company COSON, it is geared towards women in their 20s to 30s. The brand is named after Apollo 11's historical landing on the moon. Its cosmetics are manufactured in South Korea and sold online as well as in-store in Samcheong, where according to Paik Ho-jin, an employee of the brand, Chinese shoppers account for 40-50% of the customers.[79]

As part of YG's partnership with French luxury giant LVMH, moonshot was launched at 11 Sephora stores in Singapore and at 13 Sephora stores in Malaysia on September 24, 2015. Sephora, a LVMH subsidiary, is one of the leading perfume and cosmetics stores in France and holds a long-standing presence in the beauty industry around the world. The launch of moonshot products within global Sephora stores aimed to increase international exposure to the brand.[citation needed]

YG Plus Inc.[edit]

YG Plus Inc. is a media and advertisement company established by YG Entertainment in October 2014 as the result of a takeover of advertising company Phoenix Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Bogwang Group. This takeover was accomplished with the intention to further accelerate the growth of YG Entertainment in fields aside from the music industry and to maximize synergy between the company's music enterprise and cultural content. Yang Min-suk has been appointed as the company's CEO.[citation needed]

According to Reuters, the company has two main business operations: advertisement production business and media agency business. It handles the creation of advertisements, and on the media agency business side, it publishes and broadcasts advertisements through forms of mass media such as television, radio, print, and the internet. Some of its notable clients include COCA-COLA, SK Telecom, and THE FACE SHOP.[citation needed]

YG Golf Academy[edit]

YG Golf Academy was formed by YG Entertainment through the acquirement of G-AD Communication, a golf agency that handles notable professional South Korean golfers such as Kim Hyo-joo, Lee Dong-min, Byun Jin-jae, and Yoo Go-un.[81] The company has also brought in the talents of the leading golf coach Han Yeon-hee to act as the head instructor of YG Golf Academy. This new venture into the international golf business will lead to activities such as the acquisition of golf courses, scouting and nurturing of talented golfers, hosting of golf tournaments, retailing of golf supplies and fashion products, and introduction of other related businesses.[citation needed]

Three Way Butchers[edit]

Three Way Butchers, known as Samgeori/3Geori Butchers (삼거리 푸줏간), is a restaurant in Hongdae specialising in pork. It is a new food venture under the umbrella of YG Food, a collaboration between YG and Noh Hee-young, the ex-advisor of CJ Group‘s food sector.


YG Entertainment pledged to donate 100 won for every album sold, 1% of all merchandise sales, and 1,000 won for every concert ticket, to charities. In 2009, they raised US$141,000, and in 2010 $160,000.[82] YG Family have also directly delivered US$4,400 worth of charcoal to families in need during the winter time.[83] The company has also announced that it would be donating around US$500,000 for disaster relief to Japan after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[84]

In 2013, founder and CEO Yang Hyun Suk, made headlines when he donated all of the dividends he received as a shareholder of YG Entertainment to help young children needing surgery. His dividends totals to around US$1 million.[85] In 2015, YG Entertainment donated a total of 100 million KRW ($92,450 USD) to the Korean Committee for UNICEF with the message, “Please use [the donation] to help in recovering the damage from the huge earthquake in Nepal, as well as the victims that are suffering from the aftermath.” It is said that the relief fund will be used in providing relief supplies and medicine for the prevention of infectious diseases among the population in Nepal.[86]


All artists under YG Entertainment are known collectively under the name YG Family.[87]

Recording artists[edit]



Trainees and former artists[edit]


See also[edit]


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