SEOUL, May 31 (Korea Bizwire) — At a press conference last December, Bang Si-hyuk, CEO of Big Hit Entertainment, the company that manages the K-pop boy band sensation BTS, said that he hoped the group would serve “as a model [for other K-pop groups] and not just end as a mere happening.”
Bang’s statement reflected his hopes that BTS, with its universal message and unique content, would play an active role in the evolutionary process that would solidify K-pop as an independent genre.
True to Bang’s wishes, BTS recently swept the music charts, topping the Billboard 200, and opened a new era unprecedented in Korea’s music history.
Indeed, BTS is set to become a huge role model for other K-pop bands that want to emulate its success. Sources familiar with the stock market project that valuation of Big Hit Entertainment will soar to an estimated 1 trillion won.
The success of BTS already has many in the domestic music industry looking to learn from Bang’s company.
One well-known entertainment management company even created a task force focused solely on analyzing the factors behind the success of BTS.
Some music experts say there were a few key differences that set BTS apart from existing K-pop groups.
One key strength that BTS possesses is in the universality of the group’s messages, and the blending of various music trends.
The producers of BTS used a storytelling method, through a series of albums, that showcased personal narratives of the BTS members.
The inherent messages found in their music are much broader in topic than the conventional themes of “happiness, sadness, love and joy” most K-pop groups sing about.
From growing pains to social issues, the Billboard stars wax poetic about topics that were once considered taboo, especially by other Korean artists of “idol” status.
In other instances, BTS drew upon works of literature for inspiration. The lyrics to their music have a universal appeal, transcending language and national boundaries.
In addition to the band’s unique and powerful message, the “fusion” of different genres has also helped shoot BTS to success, say music professionals.
According to Shinsadong Tiger, a music producer and songwriter who created many K-pop hits, European and Japanese composers are in awe when they listen to BTS’ music, wondering how the group was able to mix different genres together.
In a single BTS song, hip-hop mixes with trap music and future bass, with a lyrical melody floating on top.
Another factor attributed to BTS’ success is the group’s use of new media such as YouTube and social media sites that helped spread their music to all corners of the globe with the click of a mouse.
BTS’ official Twitter account has more than 15 million followers, and approximately 8.5 million people subscribe to the band’s YouTube channel.
Even before their debut, the members of BTS posted a plethora of content on the Internet including selfies and other photos in addition to YouTube clips that allowed fans a glimpse into the musicians’ normal lives.
Other K-pop stars also utilize social media, but in ways that glorify themselves. BTS, however, was different because they were not afraid to show their true personas, at times without their lavish costumes and heavy makeup.
Their online posts reflected how they truly felt about life and this set them apart, according to culture analyst Kang Mun, creating more fans as teenagers were better able to relate to their favorite boy band.
The third factor that helped spur BTS’ success was to go against the conventional belief that success in Korea would trickle down to the rest of the world.
Following a carefully structured formula, K-pop groups target the domestic market first upon debut, and a great deal of money goes into promotional efforts made in Korea alone.
However, BTS looked to the Internet rather than Korean media outlets, allowing them to reach an international fan base early on in their careers.
One senior manager at an entertainment firm in Seoul says that most K-pop stars find it impossible to return back home after success overseas.
But BTS’ success on the Billboard Chart has brought about changes to this sentiment. BTS chose to showcase their third album at the Billboard Music Awards, and not on a local music program.
H. S. Seo (email@example.com)