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What All Marketers Can Learn from the K-Pop Industry

The K-pop phenomenon was born in 1992. The date is connected with the band’s “Seo Taiji and Boys” performance on one of the TV contests in style “Hello, we are looking for talents.” It dared to mix styles of American and national pop music. In that competition, the project took the last place, but his song “Nan Arayo” (“I know”) made it to the top of the Korean charts and lasted 17 weeks.

In the 2000s, a new genre of pop music was rapidly developing in South Korea. Almost the whole market was divided between three music agencies. They built an entire industry of pop “idols” (as they are called in the country).

It’s quite a tough business. Candidates for new bands are selected in castings with fierce competition. Then they settle in dormitories and begin a new career without their relatives and friends.

Each candidate goes through exhausting months of training in music and dance disciplines, learning to work on camera, studying stage movements, and speech.

The situation in such “pop incubators” is extremely stressful and resembles the army. By the way, almost all the artists of the music agencies in South Korea are banned to have a private life.

Having passed numerous training courses and final exams, the candidates become members of new pop groups. In each group, a “senior” is appointed, who must maintain a team spirit. Also, there is usually a “junior” in the team – child, which is designed to amuse everyone and make team members take care of him.

Candidates are often teenagers and even just children. In parallel with their studies in agencies, they must also study at school. How these guys do not go crazy is a real mystery.

Korean bands have been preparing for “debut” (the release of the first album) for a long time, heating up their interest in it through the release of singles, SMM, and participation in numerous (mostly completely stupid) TV shows.

When an album is released, artists begin to perform incredibly well in support of it, constantly lead their social networks under the strict supervision of agencies, take part in shows on TV and participate in several annual national music awards.

If the “debut” becomes commercially successful, a new cycle begins. It is called “comeback” and implies a return with a new album.

In general, the creation and work of pop bands in the country is a conveyor belt. However, the Big Hit agency, which caused BTS and risked to compete with the “Big Three,” in its time seriously deviated from the established rules.

Big Hit Entertainment was created by composer and music producer Bang Si Hyuk. In his time, he made a name for himself working for JYP Entertainment, one of the Big Three agencies.

He opened his own agency in 2005. A few bands he collected reached an acceptable level of popularity but did not “shoot.” In 2010, Bang Si Hyuk decided to form a hip-hop band (which in itself was unusual for the K-pop industry).

BTS photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

The BTS debut in 2013 came at a time when K-pop bands and their agencies began to explore the possibilities of social networks not as information services, but as a medium between artists and listeners. They believed that the more emotionally the consumer was involved, the better the sales went. “While most companies at the time were adopting a ‘face-holding’ approach, BTS Twitter was in ridiculous chaos. The participants were posting nonsense, answering fans, making videos about fooling around on their YouTube channel between shoots. At some point, it gave a huge boost to their popularity, and people from outside began to recognize the group by the memes from their photos.

What became BTS in modern pop music and social networks by 2019, we already know. But what have they become for Bit Hit? Today this band advertises everything: LG smartphones, Hyundai cars, Puma sportswear, KB National Bank, VT cosmetics, and others.

In December 2018, Hyundai Research Institute estimated that BTS brings more than 3.67 billion dollars a year to the Korean economy. The group attracts every 13th tourist to the country.

As of June 2019, the economic effect of BTS on South Korea is already estimated at $4.65 billion per year.

For example: when BTS started advertising the Korean National Bank, the number of its clients increased 6 times. The country has called this “the BTS effect.”

Big Hit’s revenues are not public information. But the media have estimated that the group has earned at least $60 million. Some journalists claim that that’s how much BTS earns in a year.

About the author

Marie Barnes is a writer for LinksManagement and  Bestforacar. She is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about technology, social media, work, travel, lifestyle, and current affairs.

4 Comments on What All Marketers Can Learn from the K-Pop Industry

  1. Anna Clara // April 13, 2020 at 8:06 pm //

    Lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa lisa

  2. Anonymous // April 12, 2020 at 10:40 pm //

    a sina e a sabina tão ganhando da ARIANA GRANDE, SELENA GOMEZ e RIHANNA mesmo ou é meme?

  3. LISA THE PRETTIEST

  4. Anonymous // April 8, 2020 at 10:57 am //

    @Marie Barnes
    “participation in numerous (mostly completely stupid) TV shows”
    have you watched one? Korean variety show? I mean to say that it is completely stupid, you must have an extensive knowledge about it to even make an overall assumption. What is your basis for this?

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