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Interview: What’s the secret behind the success of K-pop boyband BTS?

The South Korean boyband BTS has really taken the world by storm and is having huge international success right now. This includes getting tens of thousands of radio spins across the world each month.

A big part of the reason for their success is their incredible fan base which BTS call their ‘Army’. The Army is extremely supportive of the band and does an excellent job of spreading the BTS message online every day. However, BTS also has an amazing promotional team that works across several different countries and help push their music to radio and create their amazing online presence.

We asked Marsha, co-owner of BTS Radio UK, some questions about her behind the scenes work with the seven-member K-pop boy band formed by South Korean entertainment company Big Hit Entertainment. She also talks about The Army and explains what new artists should do before considering contacting radio promoters. 

 

Why do you think BTS has succeeded worldwide?

Big Hit Entertainment are very clever in their promotions. One thing we find with Big Hit & BTS is that they listen to their fans, they take an interest and respond to what they ask. They are extremely consistent, with V-Lives, Bangtan Bombs, videos, albums, and concerts. I don’t believe any other artists are as consistent with their content.

BTS themselves have succeeded because of who they are and what they stand for. They are different to what we know generally and because of that, they cause an air of excitement which in turn grows into appreciation and support. They are a success because they made themselves a success.

What tools have been used in making BTS an internationally known act?

Oversees marketing has played a massive part in the band’s recognition. Big Hit Entertainment have done a great job in securing prime-time spots for BTS to perform on numerous shows across the world. It also helps that high profile western artists such as Steve Aoki, The Chainsmokers, Nick Minaj etc have listened to and liked the music that BTS make enough to collaborate with them and help project them internationally.

“Army” is the name that BTS gave their fans. It has a connection with their full name Bangtan Sonyeondan which translates to ‘Bulletproof Boyscouts’. This suggests that the fans are BTS’s armor – they keep them safe, protect them and help them succeed, it also suggests that BTS keep Army close to them and their heart at all times, in turn, keeping them safe also.

Army is supporters of BTS as a group, as individuals – their music and their message. It is a strong fandom with continually growing numbers, they treat each other like family and all support each other in so many ways there would be too many to list! This is all because of 7 men who write about real life, real stories with real passion and truth and people can relate to them. It’s quite a phenomenon and it’s heartwarming.

Army also does a lot of charity work on behalf of BTS and follow the Love Yourself/Love Myself mantra – if you would like an example, look up One In An ARMY on Twitter – they do some amazing work.

What should new artists think about when considering radio promotion? 

New artists need to find a radio promotion team that connects with & understands their music, the worst thing would be radio promotion not having any passion behind it.  If you don’t feel they have that connection to & understanding of your music, move on. You need a team that will put 100% into getting your music onto the radio and onto rotation within playlists.

Check which artists the radio promoter has worked with before, which radio stations they have connections with. If their previous results don’t meet with your expectations or their connections are not in the direction you want your songs to go in, contact another promoter. You shouldn’t feel that a radio promoter is taking you on to meet their quota, they should make you feel that they understand you, your songs and the image you want to portray. You need to be able to trust your promoter.

Do you have any other tips for new bands and artists to succeed in today’s music business?

Don’t give up. Start from the bottom, don’t expect to have the big radio stations instantly play your music, even if they are positive towards your songs they will test their audience for their thoughts.

To gain the general public’s attention you need to work hard yourself, touring around small stations, universities, road shows etc. An increase in play in those areas leads to requests to bigger stations, streaming and buying increases and chart placement. It may be that only then after a lot of hard work the big stations play you and it won’t necessarily be on the playlist. 

So again, don’t give up, work hard and keep your promotion on track.  Don’t let the team fob you off, be on their case, you will probably be paying for them so technically, they are your employees.

With regards to your music, always stay true to your beliefs and who you are personally and musically. Don’t fit the mold just because someone wants you to. Create your own mold and own it. The best artists are ones that stayed true to themselves and paved the way for new genres and styles of music.

 

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