As more K-pop artists reach international levels of success and fame, U.S. labels are quickly snapping up artists. But Korea’s freshest rookie is proving their promise and prowess in the world’s biggest music market with a deal in place ahead of their official debut.
On September 4, RIIZE held a press conference in Seoul to mark the seven-member boy band’s official foray onto the scene with their debut single “Get a Guitar.” During the event, members Shotaro, Eunseok, Sungchan, Wonbin, Seunghan, Sohee and Anton not only met fans and members of the press for the first time but revealed their debut single would be released in partnership with their Korean label and agency SM Entertainment as well as RCA Records in the States.
As one of the most influential and longest-running K-pop companies, SM Entertainment always demands local attention when they reveal new artists. SM’s acts like Girls’ Generation, NCT and aespa have inked label deals a few years into their careers, but RIIZE kicking off their career with a partner like RCA Records shows not only a well-prepared debut but promise for the group’s overseas prospects.
“RIIZE is ushering in an exciting new era of K-pop,” says Joseph Chang, CEO of SM and Kakao Entertainment America/CBO of SM Entertainment. “We are thrilled to partner with the amazing team at RCA and look forward to making history together.”
Meanwhile, Chairman and CEO of RCA Records Peter Edge says, “RIIZE are incredibly talented and versatile artists and we are excited to welcome them to the RCA Family and work together with the amazing SM team.”
COO of RCA Records John Fleckenstein adds, “RIIZE are set to break new boundaries in global pop with an entirely fresh perspective. We are proud to partner with the incredible team at SM Entertainment and their incredible track record of artist development.”
Fleckenstein positioning RIIZE as a “global pop” act not only speaks to the septet’s cultural representation (the members hail from Korea, Japan and the States) but also approaching their careers with a confident, international mindset instead of beginning in one country and slowly venturing out based on feedback. “Get a Guitar” embraces a fresh, bubblegum-pop sound more aligned with the sounds of the western pop market than some of their more experimental K-pop counterparts. Plus, the group’s social-media-first image and marketing feel similar to how artists develop their fanbases by connecting with those discovering them and watching them grow through Instagram, TikTok and Twitter—a stark difference from the flashy debuts most K-pop acts need to make to grab attention in the competitive market. RIIZE nabbing one million Instagram followers just four days after opening their account (a record among K-pop groups) shows the curiosity around their social presence.
Even RIIZE’s name—a combination of the words “rise” and “realize” to speak to constant growth and recognizing one’s achievements—speaks to something more honest and human versus the larger-than-life superstar vibe many K-pop groups give.
With RCA Records home to some of the world’s most established and dependable superstars (like Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Shakira) as well as international breakouts (including Tems and Wizkid from Nigeria, NAO from England and fellow K-pop boy band ATEEZ from Korea), having RIIZE ready to go global from the start feels like a brilliant fit for the historic label. Under Sony Music, the RCA signing also marks SM’s first foray with Sony in the U.S. as aespa work with Warner Records (under Warner Music Group) and SuperM was created in partnership with Capitol Records (under Universal Music Group).
“Get a Guitar” will be released as a special two-song single EP at 5:00 a.m. ET on September 4, alongside the previously released buzz single B-side “Memories” which details the group’s time preparing and training together.