HYBE and Geffen Records Launch Girl Group Audition Shows on YouTube and Netflix as K-Pop Business Model Is Exported

HYBE Corp., the K-Pop powerhouse behind BTS, and the U.S.’s Geffen Records are to bring their global girl group audition efforts to Netflix as a docuseries that will launch next year.

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The two music companies announced the 2024 series and a companion-piece online show that kicks off on Thursday as their “The Debut: Dream Academy” moves up a gear. Having begun the selection process in November 2021 and screened some 120,000 submissions from young women hopefuls from around the world, they have now narrowed the field to just 20 candidates.

They hail from Thailand, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, the U.S., Sweden, Japan, Belarus, Switzerland, Slovakia, the Philippines and Korea.

Next, fans can follow the contestants as they embark on the final stages of the audition program. The content will begin to premiere on Sept. 1st at 8a.m. U.S. PDT on YouTube (global), and on Japanese broadcast channel Abema, and run for 12 weeks.

At the end of the audition program, in November, the channels will become live in order to carry the announcement of the selected group members and the name of the group.

The three-year process of creating the group will also be the subject of the untitled Netflix documentary series, directed by Nadia Hallgren (Netflix’s Emmy-nominated “Becoming”.) The series aims to be a compelling portrayal of the journey to global stardom, including insight into the training and development program from HYBE and Geffen Records. Production is by HYBE, Interscope Films and Boardwalk Pictures.

The assembled final group will also be integrated into the HYBE’s fandom platform, Weverse.

“The one-of-a-kind joint venture marks the first time a major U.S. record label and a K-pop entertainment leader have combined their expertise in artist discovery, and music production to assemble, develop, and introduce an international girl group unlike any other,” the two companies said.

They also claim that the program “represents the first time a U.S.-based, truly global girl group will be created and modeled based on the world-renowned K-pop training and development system,” under which the contestants have been quietly training over the last year in Los Angeles.

However, it is not the first time that the intense K-pop model has been exported. DR Music was behind the creation of Blackswan, an all-foreign girl group with members that hail from India, Senegal, Brazil and the U.S., but who perform in Korean. Another, Exp Edition was a boy band with all American members that launched in 2017, but which is no-longer active.

Overseas recruitment is now routine and many well-established K-pop acts such as Blackpink include one or more non-Korean members. Others actively court specific overseas markets with spinoffs known as sub-units. Super Junior M is a sub-unit of Super Junior, which initially launched in 2005, with the M standing for Mandarin.

“I have wanted to form an international group based on K-pop methodology for a while. To do this I believed we needed a capable partner,” said Bang Si-hyuk, HYBE chairman.

“To develop a global group with Bang, with the best of K-Pop methodology, and our Geffen team, is truly special and will bring to life a first-of-its kind experience in music. Each candidate is incredibly talented, dedicated, and driven, making this an exciting moment for music fans around the world,” said Geffen’s chairman and CEO John Jannick.

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