YG Entertainment

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YG Entertainment
Native name
YG 엔터테인먼트
Traded as KRX: 122870
Industry Entertainment
Founded 24 February 1996
Area served
Key people
Revenue Increase US$150 million (2012)[2]
Increase US$28 million (2012)
Increase US$37.5 million (2012)
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‑gun (양군), a nickname for executive director and founder Yang Hyun-suk.[3] 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 currently also operates a number of subsidiary ventures, including a clothing line, a golf management agency, and a cosmetics brand.[4] It is one of the three most prominent record labels in the K-pop industry,[5] alongside S.M. Entertainment and JYP Entertainment.

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 first-generation K-pop group Seo Taiji and Boys, founded YG Entertainment along with his younger brother Yang Min-suk.[3][9] 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.[3]

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.[10]

The agency found success in both Korea and Japan with its first "idol" singer Seven in 2003.[11] 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.[12]

2006–2011: Mainstream breakthrough[edit]

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.[13] Their debut was followed by the girl group 2NE1 in 2009.[14] Similarly to Seven, both groups have also conducted successful careers in Japan.[15][16][17]

In 2010, YG Entertainment made a highly publicized move into a new building, while the old headquarters became a training facility.[18][19] 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.[20] Later that year, the label signed established artist Psy.[21]

YG Entertainment went public on the KOSDAQ in 2011[4] and filed its first annual report in 2012 with a net gross of over 50%.[22] 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.[23]

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

YG Entertainment building in Seoul

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,[24] 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.[25] By November 24, "Gangnam Style" had become the most viewed video in YouTube history.[26] The song was credited as the main reason for YG Entertainment's share prices increasing by more than 60 per cent.[27]

Also in 2012, Epik High signed with YG Entertainment, following the success of its frontman Tablo under the company.[28] 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.[29] 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.[30][31]

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.[32]

In 2014, YG Entertainment acquired T Entertainment's staff and actors including Cha Seung-won, Im Ye-jin, and Jang Hyun-sung.[33] 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.[34] YG also signed a contract with actress Choi Ji-woo.[35][36][37][38] 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%.[39] In 2014 YG Entertainment also expanded into the beauty industry with the creation of the cosmetics brand Moonshot.[40][41]

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.[42] Real estate in Seoul worth KRW16 billion (US$14 million) was also purchased for the purpose of expanding their headquarters.[43] In that year, the company also saw the creation of two sub-labels, the first led by Tablo[44] and the second headed by YG producers Teddy Park of 1TYM and Kush of Stony Skunk.[45] 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.[46]

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.[47][48][49] 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.[50] YG later added Lee Jong-suk.[51] Kang Dong-won,[52] and Kim Hee-jung[53] to their list of actors.

In August 2016, YG Entertainment debuted their newest girl group (following 2NE1 in 2009), the four-member Black Pink.[54]


Music distribution[edit]

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.)

KT Music[edit]

Further information: KT Music and KMP Holdings

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.[55] It was speculated that this was in challenge to the duopoly on music distribution in Korea by Mnet Media and LOEN Entertainment.[citation needed] In November 2012, KMP Holdings was acquired by KT Music.[56] 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%.[57]


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.[58] 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,[59] and Universal Music (which signed a three-year exclusive contract in 2008 for Big Bang's Japanese releases.)[60]

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.[61]

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".[62]

Asiana Airlines[edit]

Asiana Airlines signed a deal with YG Entertainment in January 2013, providing transportation for its personnel to and from domestic and international destinations in return for advertising.[63]




HIGHGRND (read as "high ground") is an independent sub-label headed by Epik High's Tablo.[64] 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. On June 21, 2015, Tablo introduced the band Hyukoh via Instagram as the label's first official artist.[65]

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.[66] The label currently houses Zion.T, Korea's second best selling artist of 2015 after BIGBANG.


On September 1, 2016, representatives of YG Entertainment announced that Psy would be leading an independent sub-label titled PSYG, a portmanteau of "Psy" and "YG".[67] The label was registered as a corporate subsidiary in June and marked another chapter in the collaboration between Psy and long-time friend Yang Hyun-suk, as it was revealed that the YG CEO had implicitly promised the creation of a sub-label when Psy had signed on to the company in 2010 amidst personal difficulties, having been encouraged by his wife to work with the YG founder.[68]

YG PLUS[edit]

YG PLUS Inc., previously named Phoenix Holdings Inc., is a publicly-traded media and advertisement company acquired by YG Entertainment in October 2014. Yang Min-suk was appointed as the company's CEO, with YG Entertainment owning 38.6% of the company's shares. Some of its notable clients include Coca-Cola, SK Telecom, and The Face Shop. YG PLUS currently owns 100% of YG K-Plus and YG Golf Academy, with minority shares in moonshot and NONAGON.


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.[69] 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.[70]


Moonshot, stylized as moonshot, is a cosmetics brand launched by YG Entertainment on October 2, 2014.[71] Developed with China's Huanya Group and in partnership with the cosmetics manufacturing company COSON, 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.[72] As part of YG's partnership with French luxury conglomerate LVMH, Moonshot was launched at 11 Sephora stores in Singapore and at 13 Sephora stores in Malaysia on September 24, 2015.


NONA9ON is a luxury street-wear brand founded in early 2012 by YG Entertainment and Samsung’s textile subsidiary company Cheil Industries.[73][74] It operates through secondary retailers and pop-up stores, such as its first pop-up at Apgujeong’s Galleria Department Store. Following its domestic success, the clothing line also quickly sold out in its first international pop-up stores in 10 Corso Como shops in Milan, as well as other locations in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The brand plans to open a pop-up store at JayCo in Taiwan.[72]

YG Golf Academy[edit]

YG Golf Academy was formed by YG Entertainment in 2015 through the acquisition 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.[75] Leading golf coach Han Yeon-hee acts as the head instructor of the academy, which aims to venture into acquisition of golf courses, scouting and nurturing of talent, hosting of golf tournaments, and retailing.

YG Foods[edit]

The venture is a collaboration between YG Entertainment and Noh Hee-young, the ex-advisor of CJ Group‘s food sector.

  • Samgeori Butchers [1] - a restaurant chain specializing in high-end cuts of pork served in a laid-back atmosphere.
  • Pizza & Beer Association (PBA) - a freshly baked pizza house.
  • 3 Birds' - a café boasting a health conscious menu and coffee beverages.
  • K Pub - a pub serving a variety of beers and meat and snack platters.


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.[76] The company has also directly delivered US$4,400 worth of charcoal to families in need during the winter time.[77] It announced that it would be donating around US$500,000 for disaster relief to Japan after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[78]

In 2013, 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 totalled around US$922,000.[79]

In 2015, YG Entertainment donated a total of KRW100 million (US$92,450) to the Korean Committee for UNICEF in disaster relief following the earthquake in Nepal.[80]


All artists under YG Entertainment are known collectively under the name YG Family.[81]

Recording Artists[edit]




Former Artists and Current Trainees[edit]


See also[edit]


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