Big Hit Entertainment│② The Decisions that Made Big Hit

Currently Big Hit Entertainment is accepted to have the highest economic value within the Korean music industry despite the fact that it remains an unlisted company. What were the developments between the Bangtan Boys becoming BTS and the debut of the company’s second boy group TxT? Here are some decisions Big Hit Entertainment made that changed their fate as well as some strategies that enabled those decisions.

# Beginning Vlog: January 7, 2013
“130107 Rap Monster.” Before BTS made its official debut in June 2013, Big Hit Entertainment posted video logs taken by the members themselves onto their official blog. The members shared their thoughts leading up to their debut, and what they did in the studios during the day, etc. in the form of a daily journal, and this was spread via their official SNS accounts. This is meaningful in that BTS reached out to their fans with self-made content while most idol groups promoted themselves through TV programs; but a more important factor was the format of a Vlog. The frank way the members relayed their stories was distinct from existing TV programs, and fans could share the story ahead of the debut and therefore relate to them more emotionally. The contents fit well with the team character combining characteristics of an idol group with the self-expression of hip-hop, and allowed fans who joined later to follow their history as well. Another way distance between idols and fans was narrowed and the journey of each member depicted was their mix tapes. BTS members consistently shared their mix tapes free of charge from before their debut even up to now, and those members who are famous for their “rap line” such as RM, Suga and J-Hope have announced mix tapes containing roughly 10 songs. In the tapes BTS members could share the circumstances in which they found themselves and their appreciation for music that they could not fit into their album, and this not only became an unexpected gift to fans but also a separate form of activity connecting the different albums. This is proof that Big Hit attempted something new right from the debut to depict the identity of BTS.

# Start of “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life (Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa)”
Big Hit started to connect the stories of albums starting with “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever.” They produced separate short films for the prologue and epilogue, completing the message of the 7 members through the album and music videos. The strategy of dividing “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life” into Parts 1 and 2, and creating a prologue film to connect the title songs “I NEED U” and “RUN,” followed by the epilogue “Young Forever,” made the BTS message appear almost movie-like. With the key storyline relayed through the main albums, repackage and special albums filled in to complete various chapters in between, also creating additional context in the form of numerous new songs. Repackage or special albums typically made up of existing songs and a new title song normally record about half or more of the previous album sales. In contrast, BTS special albums have recorded almost similar numbers to their regular album in the first week of sales, which shows not only a high demand for the album itself but the consolidation of new fans through the special album. BTS concerts have also been story-based, and interestingly their first concert in 2014 was titled “EPISODE Ⅱ,” while the second concert in 2015 presented the beginning of BTS with the name “BTS BEGINS.” Fans still gush over the members singing “Born Singer” originally released in a mix tape in memory of how they started out. The third concert took place the same year, “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life On Stage” and the fourth was named “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life On Stage: Epilogue.” The story of BTS created via various contents not only allows later fans to follow but also acts as the main core that brings the different contents together.

# Launching of Naver V Live
The “Run BTS” series on Naver V Live is quite different to their “BTS BOMB” series on Youtube. Unlike “BTS BOMB,” which records the daily aspects of members like behind the stage or behind the scene moments during awards and birthday parties, “Run BTS” is closer to a variety show complete with a script and set format similar to existing TV entertainment shows. But once daily compilations of “BTS BOMB” accumulated into several hundred in number, and was jointed with the numerous episodes on “Run BTS” having no problem airing on TV and partially broadcasting via Mnet, the contents began forming a world of BTS’s own. Once you like BTS, you can consume daily life, behind stories, entertainment shows through their SNS, V-Live, and albums, and all from a single team. This is also how BTS became a sort of standard within the idol industry since their success. Add that to the BTS offline fan meet-up “MUSTER” and small scale fan meet-up “FESTA,” and you have all of the contents that an idol group could possibly show, all under the name BTS. “G.C.F,” which is video content taken by BTS member Jungkook, additionally reveals the perspective of someone who actually lives with the members. All the fans need to do is follow the V Live and SNS channels.

“ARMYPEDIA” involves taking QR codes scattered both offline and online across 7 cities in the 6 countries of Korea, the US, Japan, the UK, France, and Hong Kong, and filling out “total 2,080 days of entries from June 13, 2013 debut to February 21, 2019” onto a fixed webpage. BTS member RM has explained to those fans who felt confused about the overwhelming number of QR codes on how to use “ARMYPEDIA” that all they need to do is “share things like what you ate, what you went through, in detail.” Fans are uploading various memories of BTS around the world, and the international event also serves as a reminder how the BTS fandom interacts from the all around the globe. In a time where BTS has created a worldwide fandom, where it interacts via SNS in diverse languages, Big Hit Entertainment has made full use of its fandom energy and transformed ARMYPEDIA into an event of global scale. The fandom has also become directly part of writing the BTS history, by participating in the event and thinking about what to record. It is the sort of marketing that demonstrates the current capability of Big Hit Entertainment, bringing together the different trends of the times including the new SNS generation, a culture of online posting, and various changes within the K-pop fandoms.

# Debut of Tomorrow by Together
Having made a booming start with BTS, Big Hit Entertainment now has abundant assets in the form of huge follower numbers, Vlogs, and ARMYPEDIA, capturing the attention of people all around the world with ease. The recent debut teaser of their new boy group Tomorrow by Together (TxT) has recorded more than 15 million views, and other teasers released consecutively each recorded over a million views within a day of release. It demonstrated that an entertainment company with over 21.5 million subscribers (as of 3 March 2019) could be a platform of itself. The teaser they revealed when the most attention was drawn was a very different concept to that of BTS, clearly showing that TxT would be a different team to BTS. Another interesting point is that BTS was not directly used in any of the PR activities leading up to TxT’s debut. By aiming for a similar direction but a different market to the previously successful team, and by conducting their PR activities with the understanding that building an SNS-based platform is their biggest asset, Big Hit has demonstrated how they are different to other entertainment companies.



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