What’s the price tag for keeping a roster of global superstars happy these days? For Hybe Corp., more than $230 million, the value of shares the South Korean music juggernaut has pledged to BTS, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, in addition to more than $100 million the K-Pop sensation has earned from music sales and touring.
The shares, which Hybe says are for “inspiring morale,” have almost doubled since the Seoul-based company went public in October as Big Hit Entertainment. Big Hit, which was founded by billionaire Bang Shi-hyuk, set a precedent by offering equity to the seven members of the boy-band powerhouse that is now valued at more than $107 million. That puts the band’s total take as a Hybe group at more than $214 million, including $107 million of pretax earnings Forbes estimates the group has earned since 2018, when they blew up on the global music scene.
For Bang, who has a net worth of $2.8 billion, it’s money well spent. BTS represented 87% of the KRW 290 billion ($260 million) Hybe reported for the first half of 2020. That reliance on one group is a key reason for Hybe’s $1.05 billion purchase of Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings, which manages Grande and Bieber, and owns the record company, Big Machine Label Group that is home to Rascal Flatts, Sheryl Crow and Tim McGraw.
The deal, which closes May 7, will bring Braun’s shares valued more than $103 million plus an undisclosed amount of cash. It’s the second big payout in just five months for the impresario, who recouped the cost of buying Big Machine by selling its ownership of Taylor Swift’s master recordings last fall, triggering a bitter public feud with the singer.
Here is a breakdown of the artists cashing in on Hybe:
Before Hybe went public, the company awarded each member— Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook — 68,385 shares, stakes valued at about $8 million at the time. BTS, who regularly dominate charts worldwide and had the sixth-highest grossing tour in 2019, ranked No. 47 on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list in 2020 with $50 million in pre-tax earnings, bringing the total earned since 2019 to $107 million. Each member’s stake is now valued at about $15.3 million.
Grande’s longtime partnership with Braun has paid off big. The 27-year-old pop star will receive 53,557 shares worth $12 million. Grande, who has the highest streaming numbers so far in 2021 of Braun’s clients, got one of the two biggest artist payouts from Hybe. The company, which is trying to diversify its revenue beyond BTS, has reason to keep her happy. Grande was the highest-paid female musician on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list in 2020, snagging the No. 17 spot with $72 million in pre-tax earnings.
Braun famously discovered Bieber on YouTube in 2008. Since then, the 27-year-old pop star has had eight No. 1 albums. He ranked No. 13 on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list last year with pre-tax earnings of $83.5 million. Bieber is getting the same plum payout from Hybe as Grande, with 53,557 shares worth $12 million.
The “Prince of Reggaeton” had a massive 2020. He was the third-most-streamed artist in the world last year, according to Spotify. Balvin had the third-highest payout from Hybe of any of Braun’s artists, after Bieber and Grande. He will get 21,423 shares worth $4.8 million once the deal goes through in May.
Lovato, whose new album Dancing With The Devil…The Art Of Starting Over debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 this week, is part of a clutch of Braun’s artists who will get 5,355 shares worth $1.2 million. The others include country star Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard.