BTS is one of the most popular K-pop groups around, and many people believe they became successful by going against several established norms in the industry. While carving one’s own path sometimes be a huge risk, it seems like something that paid off for BTS.
BTS took part in writing their songs
When BTS debuted in 2013, it was not common for K-pop idols to write their own songs. Idols were expected to be singers, dancers, and rappers who perform songs written by other people. However, BTS was encouraged to take part in writing their own music alongside established producers and writers.
By putting their own thoughts and feelings into their music, BTS was able to connect with fans. The members spoke from their hearts and wrote about social problems young people could relate to. It led listeners to feel closer to BTS.
Big Hit Entertainment’s CEO, Bang Si-hyuk, once spoke to Time Magazine about this, saying, “They don’t shy away from speaking about the pain felt by today’s generation. They respect diversity and justice, the rights of youths and marginalized people. I think all of these factors worked in their favor.”
In addition to songwriting, BTS have taken part in creating choreography as well.
BTS did not rely on traditional media to become popular
Social media marketing was in its infancy when BTS started their career. At the time, many entertainment companies in K-pop still saw traditional media as the main way to promote artists. However, BTS came from a small company with little connections and resources. As such, the group relied on social media more so than TV appearances or radio plays to get the word out about their music.
Since the beginning, BTS have often posted videos and photos on their social media pages. The members also live streamed a lot with fans to keep them up to date on the happenings of their career. Like their personalized songs, these social media communications from BTS also make fans feel closer to the members.
BTS stayed true to their Korean roots
In recent years, K-pop has been trying to expand its reaches internationally. As such it is not uncommon for K-pop groups to include foreign members to appeal to international fans. The “Big 3” companies in K-pop—SM, YG, and JYP—have all utilized this marketing technique in groups they created in the past decade. However, Big Hit Entertainment did not follow this trend while creating BTS.
Through their authentic songs, BTS has been able to touch listeners all over the world. Even fans who are not Korean or speak the language still find the messages in their songs to be extremely relatable.
Additionally, despite being international superstars, BTS still tries to sing in Korean as much as possible. BTS’s leader, RM, once said that the group strives to be authentic, which is why they do not switch to singing in English for the sake of global stardom. Of course, BTS did top the Billboard Hot 100 in August 2020 with a full English song, “Dynamite,” but it does not seem like the group is establishing a pattern of singing in English anytime soon.