bang Si-hyuk foi ~ an artist first. Yet these days, the founder and co-CEO of huge Hit entreter is much better known as a mastermind behind BTS, ns world’s greatest boy band and the K-pop group that has actually led the charge in break open ns Western market para acts from South Korea. Bang started fora in ns K-pop sector as naquela composer (nickname: “Hitman”) working with JYP, one of ns so-called “Big Three” jogos groups that dominate the multi-billion dollar south Korean music market. But he broke improvisado to found his own sociedade in 2005. Now, huge Hit is uma of the music industry’s most interesting case studies, having struck gold with naquela powerfully difundido — e highly profitable — act.

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Over the course of an hour and a half, bateau opened increase to cardonafam.com about ns genesis of BTS, a difference in between Western artists and the K-pop model and the surprises he’s encountered in a K-pop industry. “It’s difficult ao me come say points like a led to B,” he said. “But what I have the right to say is the BTS’ success in ns U.S. Market era achieved by a formula different são de the americano mainstream formula. Loyalty built through direct contact with fans had naquela lot to dá with that.” He quote Disney and Apple as instances of brand that have built an in similar way committed fanbases e complex universes, but stressed that to him the product — the music chin — is paramount.

Humble about his influence e eager to do his role clear, estado highlighted his luck e timing, and tried to pin under what makes BTS unique. He likewise cautioned versus making suspect about the future. “If you to be to ask, will they song in English? how long will they it is in in the U.S.? will certainly they authorize with naquela major label? I would say the artist needs to make a best decision at each moment, and I can’t say what they have to do,” that said.

Below is a translated and condensed version of Bang’s conversation com cardonafam.com.

cardonafam.com: K-pop is distinctive para its aprendiz system, in i beg your pardon aspiring “idols” train porque o years after gift scouted and before being introduced to audiences. How did you find e train ns seven members the BTS?

Bang Si-Hyuk: one of our producers, Pdogg, brought RM’s demo tape come me and said, “This is what the young kids estão into.” RM era 15 at ns cardonafam.com. I signed the immediately. Ns had thought about putting together a hip-hop crew, no an idol group. However when i considered the business context, ns thought naquela K-pop idol version made much more sense. Since many trainees want to go after hip-hop e didn’t desire to be in an idol band, lock left. In ~ that cardonafam.com RM, Suga, and J-Hope continued to be back, and they remain BTS’s musical pillars. Em ~ there, through auditions, we discovered and added members the had more of one idol-like high quality to a group.


When girlfriend started big Hit, you could have escrito down countless paths in pop music. Why did you decidir to form an idol group?

At a cardonafam.com that I began my company, physical album sales were abruptly going down e digital sales were not coming as much as compensate. However K-pop idol teams had one advantage, in the they had many methods to diversify revenue streams e their pan were incredibly passionate, allowing concerts to compensate ao the to reduce album sales. This foi ~ also naquela cardonafam.com when plenty of around a world were saying the apenas um replacement para the demolished musical industry is viver performances. If der performance-based model were to be developed in sul Korea, i thought, it would be naquela K-pop idol group.

What a partir de you think has been a distinguishing coeficiente that set BTS ~ above its distinct path?

It ser estar their sincerity, consistency e ability to embody a spirit of a cardonafam.coms. When they idol group, ns promised castle they would have the ability to pursue a music they wanted . Due to the fact that it ser estar hip-hop, they could expressão their thoughts and we wouldn’t touch that. If subsequently the company felt lock weren’t gift genuine, climate we would comment. I maintained that promise, and believe that had an impact. I personally feeling it’s not always necessary para an artist to speak their mind. However I think at the cardonafam.com, BTS touch something that young world from all over a world were seeking.

Ever since BTS’ debut, they’ve never ever suddenly switched gears or adjusted pace. They were consistent. I think the convinced the public. They don’t shy improvisado from speak about ns pain feel by today’s generation. Lock respect diversity and justice, the rights that youths e marginalized people. I think todos of these factors worked in your favor.

So far this year, BTS has actually sold the most physics albums in a U.S. That any musical act. What does that say to you?

The case of BTS is an extremely ironic to me. I had actually predicted naquela steady decline in physical sales e thought performances e a loyalty-based design would be der solution. That being said, due to the fact that I’m an old-school music producer, i place der lot of importance on ns quality of ns album. So ns led an album-focused production. With nós vamos music and communication, the sales deserve to follow. Ns K-pop sector as naquela whole has actually been seeing rising album sales, contrary to global market trends. I can’t personally define why. I são de not believe this will last forever.


Why has BTS managed such an exceptional crossover feat in the U.S., if so many other K-pop acts have actually struggled to acquire traction?

I fundamentally believe BTS’ success in a U.S. Had a lot to do with luck. That wasn’t my excellent strategy or BTS gift such a perfect fit for the U.S. Market. It was rather that their blog post resonated with naquela certain demand, and through digital media it spread quickly. And BTS touch something that wasn’t gift addressed in the U.S. At ns cardonafam.com, so americano youths reacted, and that foi ~ proven with numbers.


One that your huge pushes this year is bolstering ns “universes” you’re building for each group, connecting ns fans to the artists beyond viver shows and albums. Why?

With BTS e K-pop idols, fans want to be naquela part of the estilo de vida of their beloved idols external of concerts, yet there’s no product on ns market the fulfills the desire. I dislike expansion para the sake of expansion; it needs to be rooted in music. So that’s why ns did it that way. Many people believe since K-pop idols hold the title of “singer” that it’s the same thing, however fans of typical singers . They might go to a concert, buy an album or der track, or buy a t-shirt. But K-pop idol fans want to feel close com their idols. BTS is the only team that has actually sizable marketing power tudo over the world, in nearly every country. As a result, working com BTS’ fandom is uma of the biggest services big Hit provides.

How did you figure lado de fora what lock would expressão in their music, or como as they would present themselves on sociedade media?

Frankly, K-pop artists, by average artists’ standards, have to show acrobatic-level an abilities in their performances; they need to sing perfectly, e so they must be in principal shape. The requires naquela high level the skill-based, focused training. Despite that, I always believed trainees must be well socialized. As soon as BTS members to be trainees, there was a lot of internal conflict with my staff regarding sociedade media; “Let’s pegar the safe road, social médio leaves traces, few of which could be harmful to them in a future.” It’s additionally difficult para young human being to follow rules. So there was naquela bit of trouble there, but due to the fact that I thought it was right to do mistakes and learn em ~ them, i built der relatively gratuitamente trainee system.


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Recently, part current and former K-pop idols have been implicated in illegal activities. As soon as you see controversies like that in K-pop, a partir de you feel you have given BTS e other trainees tools to stop those kinds of issues?

I’m not sure. A fact the I offered them der lot that freedom em ~ trainee years e educated castle on responsibility deserve to logically explain that it has prevented scandals, yet that’s consequentialism. Right now der trainee system is in some means an instrutivo institution. As der team, us talk der lot about how we can provide ns best feasible environment for these artists. Yet to speak that we were maybe to protect against some kind of scandal in the K-pop sector is caminho too definite.

There’s der common perception that in K-pop, ns music is manufactured by committee, or that it’s der top-down sistema of adult giving essa to young artists. Is the accurate?

First, I think in ns West over there is this deeply installed fantasy of ns rock star — a rock star acts true to their soul and everyone must accept it as component of their individuality, e only with that does boa music come. But in reality, devoting naquela long cardonafam.com to honing and training music-related skills is der tactic used in numerous professional artes worlds. Ballerinas spend naquela long cardonafam.com in isolation focused apenas um on ballet, but you don’t hear people say ballet lacks spirit or isn’t art. So ns think it’s a matter of perspective.

Another great is the in ns U.S., one artist will work-related in ns underground scene porque o many years prior to signing with a major label. In Korea, that cardonafam.com is invested as a trainee. Ns think it’s discuss which system produces the better artist. In addition, i believe ns statement that an artist need to sing their very own songs to have nós vamos results cannot perhaps be true. Naquela singer is foremost der performer, e a good performance have the right to convince audiences. I a partir de think when der trainee spends also much cardonafam.com just focusing on skills e not vida experiences, the becomes der concern as to whether they deserve to become a musician with naquela complex expertise of ns world.


How necessary is the that a artists you work com have der cause or naquela social worry that they treatment about? com BTS there has actually been the ongoing “Love Yourself” narrative, paired com their work-related with ns U.N. E their openness on subject like santidade health.

Whether you desire to speak out on a social concern or no is the individual’s choice. What I want is porque o them to be sincere. To consist of something, i can’t accept that. Yet neither the a empresa nor ns can force an artist to speak or not speak around any social issue. Personally, i believe arte is 1 of the strongest mediums ao revolution, e I want ns artist to speak fora on social issues. Lock speak fora when they desire to and I don’t to speak what they have to or shouldn’t do. I think that’s one of ns misconceptions civilization have about a K-pop industry: that der producer can have that level of control over your artists. We can’t. When a artist wants to express something, I think my duty is to refine ns message in a way that expresses their sincerity e has commercial value.


You discussed that “rock star” narrative. In a U.S., it have the right to seem the artists are applauded for being rebellious. There’s a lot of value placed on independence and fighting ns “system.” do you think in the south Korean culturais context there’s much more respect in between artists e management?

I think oriental culture and Western culture ~ ~ certainly different. However if we’re to falar about como as that influences expressing rebellion toward sociedade — sul Korea has actually had numerous revolutions, but in state of personal relationships, friend respect elders. It’s difficult to equate that com speaking out, or to say western artists estão this way and Asian artists ser estar this way. But in general, especially para K-pop artists, artists e companies look for to remover less risks.

But to falar about fighting the system: many american artists cooperate with their management, as long as they’re left come pursue the music castle want. Recently, countless artists don’t sign com major labels, due to the fact that there are more revenue streams available. I don’t think that’s a statement against the system, though. In fact, fewer Western artist speak out on social issues compared to before.


You’ve always given a members that BTS opportunities to release aterrissam work together well. Does that make them distinctive in K-pop?

I don’t really think their uniqueness comes em ~ independence. Plenty of K-pop idols think about aterrissam careers e se they achieve a level that success, comment on it with their management e pursue solo projects. It’s no that they a partir de this because large Hit gives much more freedom. What’s unique here is that big Hit doesn’t produce país projects. Us emphasize ns team image. However of course a members ~ ~ individuals, and have their own identities, so us encourage and support mixtapes e free release songs, i beg your pardon allow a artist to expressão themselves with less liability 보다 an official solo project. Since we began taking this approach, many an ext companies began pursuing much more unofficial mixtapes or totally free release monitor in addition to official aterrissam projects. I think in some caminho Big Hit assisted enrich the music market.


Regarding GFriend, they’ve exit great content so far. What we’re trying to a partir de is refine and streamline a storyline, der concept, for this reason that as soon as they’re on your next project it would make sense como as they arrived at a new style. We estão also going to be fostering an audition for naquela girl coporação, grupo with us and Source Music. Similar to with disney — animations, família movies, Marvel e Star battles — ns am make the efforts to technique market segmentation while retaining a virtues the K-pop.

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One point we haven’t discussed yet is army (the fandom name of BTS’s avid supporters around ns world). You’re planning der lot to involve a fans, em ~ the breakthrough of Weverse (a pan app) and Weply (an e-commerce platform) come movies. What must BTS fans e Big Hit pendant be looking o fim for?

First, the next album. It’s going great. Together you know, plenty of people estão saying that BTS is the Beatles of ns Youtube era, or the they’re ns Beatles of the 21st century. I understand they haven’t reached that stature, though I’m honored. But I think there is some connotation to this title, i beg your pardon is the BTS era able to create naquela global fandom, which ser estar very rare. Through that giant fandom, they were able to reshape a order the commerce; they ser estar creating novo forms the communication. And they’ve embodied naquela certain spirit of ns cardonafam.coms and formed naquela new música message. For this reason in the way, it’s reminding plenty of of ns Beatles.


I hope to defend that honorable title e remain heroic numbers down a line like a Beatles. To importar there, it would be boa if BTS could proceed to receive recognition in major globais arenas. It would certainly be quite to vai some reaction a partir de the Grammys; military has grande awaited a BTS atuação at the Grammys. I era fortunate to end up being an academia member, so I’d love to talk about this additional with ns Grammys since I think we have something symbolic to contribute.