“Why Is BTS So Successful and How Can We Replicate It?” is part of my neverending love letter to K-pop boyband BTS. You can catch my ongoing series about BTS here or just sign up for my newsletter. This post also uses affiliate links.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of global K-pop sensation BTS. Because I love BTS a totally normal amount, I have studied them at length – both for personal and business reasons. The personal is obvious because what else am I supposed to do with every waking moment? But as a writer and artist (yes, writing is an art), I also research for my own understanding of how to adapt BTS’s methods into my own work.
Their stratospheric success has everyone – from the western media to all entertainment companies – scrabbling to crack how seven boys from a tiny (and broke) Korean entertainment company vaulted into the worldwide consciousness. Social media savvy is regularly cited, as is their extreme talent and attractiveness – but surely, they are not the only insanely hot, talented, hard-working social media celebrities that exist. Even the CEO and creator of BTS, producer Bang Si-Hyuk has his opinions on why BTS is so very, very popular.
I find all these articles fascinating because everyone is trying to capture lightning in a bottle.
Why has BTS struck a nerve with their fans? Why are they increasing their social media followers and racking up the views on YouTube, Twitter, and their very brief and sporadic forays onto Instagram and TikTok? Why do millions of humans want to throw themselves away in a violent yeet into the sun because looking upon their countenances is to meet death and the gods themselves?
No, seriously. I would really like to know the answer to that last one.
I also volunteer myself as study subject. FOR SCIENCE. Never say I don’t sacrifice for STEAM. I APPRECIATE SCIENTIFIC RIGOR.
But back to BTS and their unique magic. Who wouldn’t want to figure out their perfect recipe and then replicate it on other groups or themselves?
Why bts is successful and how we can replicate it
Through my unwavering pursuit of consuming all the BTS contents, I have absorbed so much on how to make art, how to conduct myself as a person, how to treat fans, and how to deal with success. And thus, I bring to you, my think piece. Be prepared to be amazed!
1) BTS provides solace and comfort.
There is a saying in BTS fandom that you find BTS when you need them most. It was true in my case and for countless others. Whether it was through relatable lyrics, catchy music, astounding dancing, their genuine personalities, or their entertaining antics through their variety shows like Run BTS! or Bon Voyage or behind the scenes glimpses, BTS consistently produced quality content that provided safe harbor for their fans.
If we helped your dream and your life a bit by our existence, our music, our performance, our pictures or videos, even if it’s not big, if we could reduce your pain from 100 to 99, 98 or 97, that makes our existence worthy.
RM at Wings Tour Final
10 Dec 2017 @BTS_twt
— Tae Choi ???? Taehyung day (@choi_bts2) November 18, 2018
Even the motto of their management company Big Hit Entertainment is “Music & Artist for Healing.”
For a sampling of songs fans find particularly comforting, you should check out:
2) BTS is genuine and authentic.
Yes, yes. We do not really know them as individual people – but you know what? It doesn’t matter. BTS members are consistently genuine in what they do choose to show us. They are constantly filmed and the thousands of hours of content they generate of social media, their variety shows, their concert ending mentions – everything is bent towards the same feeling.
We see them cry and laugh and get mad and annoyed. We feel as if we are seeing them as real people versus a product created in an entertainment company.
“I didn’t restrict them,” said Producer Bang of BTS. “I just hoped that they would become a group that would be a good influence. I told them to make music that would share the sounds of their inner selves, and so their first album was about student life.” From the very beginning of their debut, Producer Bang encouraged them to be themselves and talk about what was important to them. “Although there were some criticisms then that it was an old-fashioned school concept, a lot of the members were students at the time, and it was a natural result.”
3) BTS is grateful and humble
It’s a cliché when artists talk about their gratefulness to their fans – but truly, it is so apparent in everything BTS members do. Every award show, every new experience, every happy opportunity, BTS always remembers to thank ARMY first. They continually acknowledge that were it not for their fans, all the money, fame, and success they are currently experiencing would not be possible.
I mean, their latest album, Map of the Soul: Persona, is an entire album dedicated to their fans.
The following video is a behind the scenes glimpse of BTS at the UN giving the now famous “Love Yourself, Speak Yourself” speech. Here, Suga defends BTS fans against people who mock and denigrate their devotion. He lauds the charitable inclinations of ARMY and reminds us that just because you love a band doesn’t mean you will translate that love into doing good and kind things that help people.
Even as recently as the 2020 New Year, RM wrote to fans this New Year message about performing at the New Year Rocking Eve. I find it heartbreaking that even at the height of their success, they are still stunned at the outpouring of love and support by their fans.
RM, Weverse update
There are three parts to the translation. pic.twitter.com/HEQia9mEoi
— wisha ???? (@doyou_bangtan) January 1, 2020
4) BTS is not afraid to show us their weaknesses
Their willingness to be vulnerable makes them relatable to their fans. I find them to be such a good example of how to turn weaknesses into strengths. In so many of their live videos to fans, their letters to each other, their lives, BTS constantly talk about improving themselves, being better and more deserving of our love.
The following poem is one of my favorite things Min Yoongi has ever written. His writing is always so raw and comforting and kind.
What A Relief, by Min Yoongi
Note: Yoongi has used this metaphor of flying quite often. Consider his response for the Dicon interview (https://t.co/OnGXPfFSMl), and how it was then repeated for 2018 Festa’s Hwaeshik/Dinner. pic.twitter.com/Et1n7m8tX0
— wisha (@doyou_bangtan) July 24, 2018
5) BTS works hard and produces quality products
BTS is currently at the point where they could easily coast on their success. They could put out a few mediocre albums and their fanbase is big enough to still guarantee huge sales and sold out tours. And yet, they choose to put in countless hours in rehearsals, recording, and whatever else they do as celebrities. The end results in flawless performances and a deep respect for their fans.
If you go to their YouTube channel, you will see a TON of dance practices – which, to be honest, really shouldn’t be called practices because that really sets up ridiculous expectations of what practices should look like. I suppose it’s not an actual performance, so it’s accurate in that sense. But goodness – the precision! This is one the of the practices for an award show performance at the end of 2019 and that dance break is amazing!
6) BTS have an expansive view of success
Whether they are thanking their predecessors in K-pop, their idols, their inspirations, or their colleagues, BTS members never imply that we as their fans should only love them.
Their love is not fragile.
BTS knows that their success does not mean that other people are not successful. And while Jin’s acceptance speech also calls out cheating in terms of bundling and album sales, I want you to pay attention to him recognizing all the other hard-working artists in the dome at the 2019 MAMA Awards.
— wisha ???? (@doyou_bangtan) December 4, 2019
What I find most admirable is that BTS is so secure in who they are as artists and people. They are not threatened by other artists or people – which is so refreshing.
The real secret behind bts
The true secret is they themselves as people. The members: RM (leader and front man), Jin, SUGA, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, their individual contributions and the mystery that is the chemistry of their combined power (like a K-pop Voltron) – that is what we cannot duplicate no matter how we try because we are ourselves and they are themselves.
That’s the beauty of BTS, though – and the main lesson I take for myself.
If we do not try to be the next BTS (in the same way they are not the next Beatles or the next One Direction and just themselves), we can be free and create as ourselves and ourselves alone.
No one can take that away from us. No one can copy that – no matter how much they try. Because our essential ingredient is us.
In case it’s not obvious, I want to be more like BTS as an artist; they have made me both a better writer and human. The more I think about why I write and create, the more I realize BTS have already given voice to my desires.
I want to provide solace, comfort, peace, and hope. To make my readers laugh. To surprise, delight, and entertain my audience. To not care what people say. To hope for bigger and brighter things. To work hard. To love. To be grateful. To be thankful for the people who were and are with me – no matter for how brief or extended the moment.
Don’t we all wish to be thus? All we need do is grab it.
If you like this and want to read more about my BTS Obsession, then you’ll love these posts: