On May 8, aespa, an idol group under SM Entertainment, released their third mini album, 'MY WORLD,' which sold an initial 1,698,784 copies (based on Hanteo Chart), setting the record for the highest initial sales among SM artists and all girl groups. The previous record was held by BLACKPINK's second full album, 'THE ALBUM,' with 1.54 million copies. Prior to the release, aespa also set a record for themselves with 1.8 million pre-orders, and on the first day of sales, they sold 1.37 million copies, securing the number one spot among K-pop girl groups in that category.

The success of aespa's recent album is highly significant for SM Entertainment, given it's the first album produced following the conclusion of a takeover battle initiated with the declaration of 'SM 3.0' in February, which marked the transition to a multi-production system. This was also the first album produced without the influence of former executive producer Lee Soo-man. Interestingly, aespa managed to skillfully break away from their previous 'KWANGYA' concept, a world passionately developed by Lee Soo-man, with the simple premise of transitioning to the 'real world.'

In this new context, aespa maintained continuity with their previous concept while also evolving. For instance, 'NAVIS,' a virtual human who helped the members during their 'Black Mamba' battle, is featured in the album track 'Welcome to my World.' The music video for the title song 'Savage' also includes anomalies reminiscent of their former KWANGYA world.

The successful comeback of aespa under the new multi-producing system adds confidence to the possibilities of 'SM 3.0,' lending strength to the vision they're developing. The 'SM 3.0' strategy also includes shortening the cycle of artist activity resumption, and new growth businesses like AI and metaverse.

Indeed, SM is accelerating its 'SM 3.0' strategy. In relation to shortening artist activity cycles, NCT Taeyong's solo and SHINee's full group comeback are in preparation for the second quarter, following aespa. The third quarter will feature Yunho's third mini-album, comebacks from Red Velvet's Wendy, SHINee's Onew and Key, Girls' Generation's Taeyeon, and EXO's D.O. EXO, NCT DREAM, and NCT are also preparing full-length albums. Two new groups are also set to debut. In total, 11 albums are expected to be released in the third quarter, and if the execution in the second quarter is any indication, the third quarter is also expected to see the scheduled albums released without major deviations.

In terms of new business growth in AI and the metaverse, major moves have already begun. SM recently incorporated the post-production company 'Studio Clone' as a new subsidiary on the 26th of last month. This acquisition was made through 'Studio KWANGYA,' a subsidiary of SM specializing in metaverse content creation, which purchased 51% of Studio Clone's shares.

SM plans to present content in the field of virtual reality and virtual humans in collaboration with Studio Clone. SM also plans to utilize Studio Clone's state-of-the-art archiving system to exploit SM's intellectual property (IP). Given the significant synergy effects expected when SM's IP is used in new business areas like AI and the metaverse, there is increasing interest in the outcomes of these endeavors.