Quality Control Music, the Atlanta rap label that is one of the hottest hit machines in contemporary music, has been acquired by Hybe America, a company led by the executive and talent manager Scooter Braun, in one of the most closely watched deals in the music business.
The acquisition is the first major step taken by Braun — who manages pop stars like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato — since he became the sole chief executive of Hybe America last month. The company is a division of the South Korean entertainment firm Hybe, which dominates the K-pop world through its management of the superstar group BTS.
The transaction was announced late Wednesday by Hybe America and QC Media Holdings, the label’s parent entity. Financial disclosures released by Hybe in South Korea on Thursday indicate that the purchase price was about $300 million in cash and stock.
“QC is one of the most significant independent labels in the world,” Braun said in a statement to The New York Times. “They not only distribute music, but they also distribute culture. Their artists are the voices of their communities.”
The deal takes off the table one of the most coveted independent labels in music and expands the global repertoire of Hybe, which has only recently begun to look beyond the boundaries of K-pop.
Since its founding in 2013, by Pierre Thomas (known as P) and Kevin Lee (Coach K), Quality Control has been behind the rise of rap acts like Migos, Lil Baby and Lil Yachty. Early on, the label mastered the promotion of music through streaming, adapting the fire-hose-of-content strategy that had long flourished in the world of semiofficial mixtapes.
By early 2017, the label had scored a global smash with “Bad and Boujee,” featuring the idiosyncratic, stuttering flow of the trio Migos, with a guest appearance by the rapper Lil Uzi Vert. The song spent three weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Lil Baby alone has garnered 37 billion streams of his catalog, according to Quality Control.
Thomas and Lee will remain at the helm of the label, under the direction of Braun, they said.
Braun became a power player in artist management after discovering a young Bieber on YouTube. In 2019, he came under the cross hairs of Taylor Swift fans when his entertainment company, Ithaca Holdings, bought her former label, Big Machine — including the rights to her first six studio albums — for more than $300 million, without Swift’s participation. Ithaca later sold Swift’s albums to another investor.
In 2021, Braun joined Hybe after that company purchased Ithaca — which included Braun’s management deals, music publishing assets and the remainder of Big Machine — for just over $1 billion.
“We want to take our brand worldwide and need partners with mind-sets like ours — ground up, self-made and building companies from nothing,” Thomas, Quality Control’s chief executive, said in a statement. “All of Hybe’s leaders are entrepreneurs with track records for finding, growing and amplifying their talent globally.”
One question hanging over the deal is the future value of Migos, one of Quality Control’s biggest acts. One member, Takeoff, was killed in a shooting in November. A second, Offset, is suing Quality Control over ownership of his solo recordings. The third, Quavo, is managed by SB Projects, Braun’s company, which is part of Hybe America.
Hybe’s deal for Quality Control is the latest in a string of transactions in which big music companies have scooped up smaller labels known for their close relationships with artists.
In 2021, Warner Music Group paid $400 million for 300 Entertainment, which has released music by Megan Thee Stallion and Young Thug. That year, Sony Music also purchased a controlling stake in Alamo Records, whose acts include Lil Durk and Rod Wave; the value of that transaction was not disclosed, but is estimated at close to $200 million.