In a night of historic first, HYBE chairman and noted K-pop producer Bang Si-Hyuk was presented the Clive Davis Visionary Award at the Billboard Power 100 event Wednesday night (Feb. 1) by Davis himself and HYBE America CEO Scooter Braun.
The evening was also marked by an appearance by Bad Bunny, who presented his manager, Noah Assad, with the executive of the year honor, while Monte and Avery Lipman accepted label of the year honors on behalf of Republic Records and HarbourView founder/CEO Sherrese Clarke Soares was honored with the Billboard UBS Trailblazer Award.
David opened his remarks by paying homage to Grammy weeks of the past, which have for the past 46 years with his annual gala the night before the main ceremony — and he hinted that a “great rock star” will be performing a duet with a “great Latin star” at this year’s edition on Saturday. He then turned to the honor itself, which he said is intended “to present an award to an extraordinary individual who has had the ability to buck trends before the fact, the ability to see where music might be going unexpectedly, to spot revolutions before they’re upon us.”
Of Bang Si-Hyuk, he then said, “He’s had an extraordinary ability in these few years, he’s a writer, he’s a composer, he’s a producer, and he came up with, and was really the focal point, of this new genre of music called K-pop. And the songs that he’s written for that incredible hit machine, the group that has sold 30 million albums worldwide, it’s really been extraordinary. So the award that is being given in my name is being presented to him and I’m so proud to be here today for this special purpose.”
Davis then turned the podium over to Braun, whose company Ithaca Holdings merged with HYBE in 2021, who first paid tribute to Assad — “You have surpassed all of us. You’re the best of us now, and congratulations” — before speaking of his friend and business partner, describing how their relationship began over a series of Zoom calls during which they discussed “philosophy, family, music, culture, our dreams, what we wanted to achieve, we talked about our disappointments,” rather than the proposed deal to merge their companies. Braun then spoke of the HYBE chairman’s perseverance, sharing a story of how he came to the U.S. 15 years ago as a successful Korean producer to meet with American labels, only to be left waiting in the lobby.
“They blew him off,” Braun said. “And he went home and he told himself, ‘I’m never going back there until I make my own industry. I’m never going back there until I build something as big as what they have.’ And he has done that.”
When Bang Si-Hyuk took the podium to accept the award, he spoke of the honor of receiving an award named after Davis, who he described as one of his childhood heroes, before thanking the fans and industry.
“I thought about the reason why Billboard chose me for this year’s visionary award, and I think I’m here because I looked beyond my life as a producer and started a record label, which ultimately led me to found a company that challenges the traditional boundaries of music and entertainment,” he said. “My long journey has always been to live with music. I’ve always put music as a No. 1 priority, and offer diverse and immersive ways for fans to enjoy music. That has been my vision all along, and that’s my proudest achievement. With undying passion for music, I hope to keep striving to push the limits of our business in a way that truly honors the name of Clive Davis.”