The music business is about to have another one of those seismic shifts in the next month as the power of the music business continues to dribble away from western record company influences to a more democratic, social media-driven, business model.
In the past two years, mainly, a small South Korean production house has re-tooled the massive world music business (and it is, first and foremost a ‘business’) with one product.
Bangtan Sonyeondan, better know around the world simply as BTS.
The seven members of the K-Pop phenomenon (and the word phenomenon is aptly applied in this case) actually debuted in 2013 after forming originally in 2011, but they’re hardly an overnight success with real struggles threatening their success along the way. The BTS that writes, produces and performs in 2019 is a slick, highly professional performance and business unit that has, mostly by design, completely rejigged the fatally-wounded ‘old’ music business model. From a try-hard hip hop band to world-class music artists is a fascinating journey in the annals of the modern music business.
Also consider they’ve done this singing, mostly, in Korean.
Whilst the record companies continue to roll out the ‘oldies’ with another Greatest Hits compilation, or interpret their 70s and 80s heroes on the big screen (another guarantee to boost flagging music sales and downloads), there is some light at the end of the music tunnel which gives us hope of some great tunes ahead.
From first impressions the septet of BTS are just another fresh-faced boyband with catchy hooks, hair tosses and screaming fans – we’ve seen it all before, right? Except that they’re South Korean in a white-washed music world.
But behind the facade is some raw talent, a highly skilled back-room and the use of social media as a jack-hammer, not just a tool. After charting two of their albums at #1 in the Billboard Hot 200 last year, a first for a Korean band, appearances on the American Music Awards, the Grammies, Ellen, all the popular Tonight Shows, the front cover of TIME and a series of sell-out concerts around the US, the seven young men are about to take the next big step, and it will be big.
Days after BTS announcing their forthcoming Map of the Soul: Persona album coming April 12, they also announced they are appearing on SNL, Saturday Night Live, (NOT Donald Trump’s favorite TV show) the day after.
Saturday Night Live announced that BTS will make their musical debut with Emma Stone, a self-declared K-pop fan, on the April 13 episode.
SNL is a highly coveted stage for any performer and has the ability to bring an artist to new heights of their career. A pre-fame Adele performing in a 2008 episode went on to the highest-rated episode in 14 years and sent her 19 album to new highs on the charts.
BTS, although still in their early to mid-20s, are already seasoned live and television performers. There would be more BTS live YouTube clips on the net than any other performer, period. They know the performance craft and how to play an audience. The sales of their music speaks for itself, their YouTube click numbers are astonishing. Type ‘BTS’ into Google and you get 490,000,000 results!
And that’s part of the magic formula that separates them from just about every previous band. Whilst using social media is nothing new, BTS has amassed an enormous world-wide audience of music downloaders, ticket and merchandise buyers and sheer screaming hordes beyond anything previously attainable. And there’s a lot more to come as the fan base spreads out of Asia into the rest of the world.
Of course it’s easy to say the band came along at the right time, given the rise and rise in social media’s impact on our lives. But they’ve been first band to really harness the power in ways most other bands never even thought about.
Their fanbase is called ‘Army’, an appropriate name given the onslaught on music fandom around the globe. That the enormous fanbase started in Asia and is spreading westward is something we’ve not seen before.
BTS also deliver a different message aimed squarely at their peers and not with the same gloss and sheen of most other K-Pop. It’s sometimes raw, always relevant, reflecting their own battles and scars as young people growing up in a complex world. They cry, they share their fears, they argue on their videos, they’re humble – it’s very different.
The BTS-on-SNL program will be, easily, the biggest audience the show will EVER have, not by a little, by a LOT. That’s quite an easy prediction given BTS’s chart history, their YouTube viewer numbers, their growing appeal and the sell-out concerts, around the world.
For a crash course in BTS, check out this video (below). There are also thousands, yes thousands, of other videos apart from their award-winning music videos as well. Such is the power of Army, the power of social media, the power of good music well performed, and the hope that cream always, eventually, rises to the top.
The Saturday Night Live episode airs in the US on April 13.
Last week’s Blackpink single-day YouTube viewing record has been beaten by fellow K-Pop supremos BTS notching up 78 million views for their “Boy With Luv” music video within its first 24 hours of hitting the video site. (Three days later it’s on 129 million with 7.8 million ‘likes’ and still going…)
K-pop rival Blackpink managed 56.7 million for “Kill This Love” just beating out Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” with 55.4 million. Just behind was another BTS song “Idol” which had 45.9 million views in its first 24 hours on YouTube.
The new record of 78 million clicks in just one day will be a high bar to jump over as musicians around the world ponder the K-Pop phenomenon and, in particular, the global popularity of BTS – who sing mostly in Korean.
The new BTS video also racked up 2 million comments over that initial 24 hours period.
The Korean septet of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope Jimin, V and Jungkook performed live on Saturday Night Live to broad acclaim, including all their sharp dance moves whilst singing totally live with a live band backing them (along with a few mic problems) – a rarity in modern music performance.
The new Boy With Luv music video, a collaboration with Halsey, is an ode to the golden era of cinema with references to the movie ‘Singing in the Rain’.
Korean pop kings BTS’ video for their 2018 “Fake Love” received 35.9 million views in its first 24 hours, making it the biggest 24 hour debut of 2018 and the third biggest 24 hour debut of all time.
But that’s nothing compared to the impact of the new BTS release, a collaboration with American singer Halsey. “Boy with Luv” has amassed nearly 60 million views in its first 12 hours on its way to ??? by the end of the first 24 hours. Over 100 million?
And the song is mostly in Korean language, not English, so the worldwide popularity of the video has record industry executives choking on their double lattes this morning.
The video clip is a lush, highly stylised retro world of American diners and cinema frontages, paying homage to 50s Hollywood musicals. In their first major comeback for 2019 the South Korean septet have stuck to their formula of vibrant international pop with every member taking the spotlight at some stage during the video.
BTS now occupies 3 slots on the top 10 all time 24 hour debut list, with their 2017 video for “DNA” in the top ten as well with 22.3 million views (it’s now at 695 million).
The “Boys With Luv” video exploded on YouTube immediately after its release, receiving over 4.8 million views in its first hour.
BTS also hold the second and third slot for the most “likes” in a single day, with their videos ‘DNA’ (#2 with 2.3 million) and ‘MicDrop, Steve Aoki Remix’ (#3 with 2.3 million).
Although the song is officially titled as a collaboration with Halsey, YouTubers are wondering where she is most of the video by her vocals can be heard throughout the choruses. She has also been credited as one of the writing team (along with Hitman Bang, RM and Jungkook) in the credits under her real name ‘Ashley Frangipane‘
“Boy With Luv” is the first single in the long-awaited new album from BTS “Map of the Soul – Persona”.
Temperatures are soaring around the country, right on time, as the Songkran holiday kicks in. People are heading home for the annual Thai New Year break whilst the tourists are flooding into the main hot spots for the water fights.
The annual celebration is meant to provide a ritual washing of Buddha images, ‘gentle’ splashing of family and friends and an ushering in of the country’s wet season. But in recent decades the ‘gentle’ splashing has ramped up and turned into massive water fights in many parts of the country. Tomorrow there will little chance of remaining dry if you venture outside.
As the temperature rose to 42°C in Lampang and Tak, several other provinces cited 41-40°C yesterday morning, the Thai Meteorological Department warned residents in the north, northeast, centre and east of very hot weather with possible Songkran storms between April 13-17.
“People must beware of stormy weather and gusty wind and stay away from big trees and unsecured billboards, the agency said.
At 5am today the temperature was forecast for Loei and Kanchanaburi at 41°C while Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phetchabun, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani and Nakhon Sawan were set for 40°C.
Bangkok will reach 37°C whilst Phuket will be hot and humid with 33°C and a sweaty evening only getting down to 27°C. Chiang Mai will swelter in 40°C heat.
Songkran, for real, starts tomorrow although expect some early starters to get the water pistols out this afternoon and tonight in places like Khao San Road in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Bangla Road in Phuket.