Bang Si-hyuk to be an artist first. Yet these days, the founder and co-CEO of large Hit entertainment is much better known as the mastermind behind BTS, the world’s greatest boy band and the K-pop group that has led the charge in breaking open up the Western sector for action from south Korea. Bang began out in the K-pop sector as a composer (nickname: “Hitman”) working through JYP, one of the so-called “Big Three” entertainment teams that conquer the multi-billion disagreement South oriental music market. Yet he damaged away to uncovered his own firm in 2005. Now, huge Hit is one of the music industry’s most interesting case studies, having struck gold through a powerfully well-known — and highly financially rewarding — act.

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Over the food of an hour and a half, Bang opened up to around the genesis that BTS, the difference in between Western artists and the K-pop model and also the surprises he’s encountered in the K-pop industry. “It’s an overwhelming for me to say things prefer A caused B,” he said. “But what I deserve to say is that BTS’ success in the U.S. Industry was achieved by a formula different from the American mainstream formula. Loyalty developed through direct contact with fans had a many to do with that.” He quote Disney and Apple as examples of brands that have built an in similar way committed fanbases and complex universes, but stressed that to that the product — the music itself — is paramount.

Humble about his influence and eager to do his function clear, Bang emphasize his luck and also timing, and also tried come pin under what provides BTS unique. He likewise cautioned versus making predictions around the future. “If you were to ask, will they sing in English? just how long will certainly they it is in in the U.S.? will they sign with a significant label? I would certainly say the artist demands to do the finest decision at each moment, and also I can’t say what they need to do,” that said.

Below is a translated and also condensed variation of Bang’s conversation v K-pop is distinctive for its trainee system, in i m sorry aspiring “idols” train for years after gift scouted and also before being introduced to audiences. Just how did you find and also train the seven members of BTS?

Bang Si-Hyuk: one of our producers, Pdogg, lugged RM’s demo tape to me and also said, “This is what the young children are into.” RM to be 15 at the Ns signed that immediately. I had considered putting together a hip-hop crew, not an idol group. However when I thought about the service context, I believed a K-pop idol design made an ext sense. Since many trainees want to pursue hip-hop and didn’t want to be in one idol band, they left. At the RM, Suga, and J-Hope continued to be back, and they remain BTS’s music pillars. From there, with auditions, we discovered and included members the had more of one idol-like quality to the group.

When friend started large Hit, you can have unable to do down countless paths in popular music music. Why walk you decide to kind an idol group?

At the that I began my company, physical album sales to be abruptly walking down and also digital sales were not coming approximately compensate. However K-pop idol groups had an advantage, in that they had many avenues to diversify revenue streams and also their pan were exceptionally passionate, allowing concerts to compensate for the reduce album sales. This was also a as soon as many around the human being were speak the just replacement because that the demolished musical industry is live performances. If a performance-based version were to be created in south Korea, i thought, it would it is in a K-pop idol group.

What perform you think has been the differentiating factor that set BTS on its distinct path?

It was their sincerity, consistency and capacity to embody the spirit of the bsci-ch.orgs. As soon as they idol group, ns promised lock they would have the ability to pursue the music they wanted . Because it was hip-hop, they can express their thoughts and we wouldn’t touch that. If consequently the company felt lock weren’t being genuine, climate we would comment. I maintained that promise, and believe that had actually an impact. Ns personally feel it’s not always necessary because that an artist come speak your mind. However I think at the, BTS touch something the young civilization from everywhere the human being were seeking.

Ever due to the fact that BTS’ debut, they’ve never suddenly switched gears or readjusted pace. They were consistent. Ns think that encouraged the public. Castle don’t shy far from speaking around the pain feel by today’s generation. Castle respect diversity and also justice, the rights of youths and marginalized people. Ns think all of these determinants worked in your favor.

So far this year, BTS has actually sold the most physical albums in the U.S. Of any type of musical act. What does the say to you?

The case of BTS is very ironic to me. I had actually predicted a steady decline in physical sales and also thought performances and also a loyalty-based version would be a solution. The being said, due to the fact that I’m an old-school music producer, I ar a lot of importance ~ above the high quality of the album. So i led an album-focused production. With great music and communication, the sales can follow. The K-pop sector as a whole has to be seeing climbing album sales, contrary to global market trends. I can’t personally explain why. I execute not believe this will certainly last forever.

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

I fundamentally think BTS’ success in the U.S. Had a lot of to do with luck. It wasn’t my excellent strategy or BTS being such a perfect fit because that the U.S. Market. It was quite that their message resonated with a particular demand, and through digital media it spread quickly. And BTS touched something the wasn’t being addressed in the U.S. At the, for this reason American youths reacted, and also that to be proven v numbers.

One of your big pushes this year is bolstering the “universes” you’re structure for every group, connecting the pan to the artists past live shows and albums. Why?

With BTS and K-pop idols, fans want to be a component of the way of living of your beloved idols outside of concerts, yet there’s no product on the sector that fulfills that desire. Ns hate development for the services of expansion; it needs to be rooted in music. So that’s why i did it the way. Many human being believe due to the fact that K-pop idols host the location of “singer” that it’s the exact same thing, yet fans of usual singers . They might go to a concert, buy an album or a track, or to buy a t-shirt. However K-pop idol fans desire to feeling close with their idols. BTS is the just team that has sizable marketing power everywhere the world, in nearly every country. Together a result, working with BTS’ fandom is one of the greatest services big Hit provides.

How did you number out what they would certainly express in your music, or just how they would present themselves on society media?

Frankly, K-pop artists, by typical artists’ standards, have actually to display acrobatic-level skills in your performances; they need to sing perfectly, and so they have to be in peak shape. It requires a high level of skill-based, focused training. In spite of that, I constantly believed trainees must be well socialized. Once BTS members to be trainees, there to be a lot of internal dispute with my staff regarding social media; “Let’s take it the for sure road, social media pipeline traces, several of which can be harmful come them in the future.” It’s also complicated for young civilization to monitor rules. Therefore there to be a little of problem there, but since I believed it was right to do mistakes and learn indigenous them, I developed a fairly liberal trainee system.


Recently, some current and also former K-pop idols have actually been implicated in illegal activities. As soon as you view controversies prefer that in K-pop, do you feeling you have provided BTS and also other trainees devices to protect against those type of issues?

I’m not sure. The truth that I gave them a many of liberty from trainee years and educated them on responsibility deserve to logically define that it has actually prevented scandals, but that’s consequentialism. Right currently a trainee device is in some ways an educational institution. As a team, we speak a lot about how we can provide the best possible environment because that these artists. However to say that us were maybe to stop some sort of scandal in the K-pop market is means too definite.

There’s a common perception the in K-pop, the music is made by committee, or the it’s a top-down system of adults offering material come young artists. Is the accurate?

First, I believe in the West there is this deeply embedded fantasy the the rock star — a absent star action true to your soul and everyone should accept that as component of their individuality, and also only v that does an excellent music come. However in reality, devoting a long to honing and also training music-related an abilities is a tactic offered in many professional arts worlds. Ballerinas invest a lengthy in isolation focused only on ballet, yet you don’t hear people say ballet lacks spirit or isn’t art. So i think it’s a issue of perspective.

Another great is the in the U.S., one artist will occupational in the underground step for many years before signing v a major label. In Korea, the is spent as a trainee. I think it’s discuss which device produces the far better artist. In addition, I think the statement the an artist should sing their own songs come have great results cannot perhaps be true. A singer is foremost a performer, and a good performance have the right to convince audiences. I carry out think when a trainee security too lot just focusing on skills and not life experiences, it i do not care a concern regarding whether castle can become a musician v a facility understanding the the world.

How crucial is it that the artist you work with have a cause or a social problem that they care about? through BTS there has been the continuous “Love Yourself” narrative, paired through their work-related with the U.N. And also their openness on object like mental health.

Whether you want to speak out on a social concern or no is the individual’s choice. What I desire is for them to it is in sincere. To comprise something, i can’t expropriate that. However neither the agency nor i can pressure an artist to speak or not speak about any society issue. Personally, I believe art is one of the strongest mediums for revolution, and also I desire the artist to speak out on social issues. They speak out once they want to and I don’t say what they have to or shouldn’t do. Ns think that’s one of the misconceptions people have around the K-pop industry: the a producer could have that level of regulate over your artists. We can’t. Once the artist desires to refer something, I believe my duty is to filter the message in a method that expresses your sincerity and has advertisement value.

You mentioned that “rock star” narrative. In the U.S., it have the right to seem that artists are applauded because that being rebellious. There’s a the majority of value inserted on independence and also fighting the “system.” do you think in the south Korean social context there’s more respect between artists and also management?

I think Asian culture and Western society are certainly different. However if we’re to talk around how that influences expressing rebellion toward society — southern Korea has had countless revolutions, however in terms of personal relationships, friend respect elders. It’s difficult to equate that through speaking out, or to say western artists room this means and oriental artists are this way. Yet in general, specifically for K-pop artists, artists and companies seek to take much less risks.

But to talk about fighting the system: many American artist cooperate v their management, as lengthy as they’re left to go after the music castle want. Recently, plenty of artists don’t authorize with major labels, due to the fact that there are an ext revenue streams available. Ns don’t think that’s a statement against the system, though. In fact, under Western artists speak out on social issues compared to before.

You’ve always given the members that BTS opportunities to release solo work-related as well. Does that make them distinctive in K-pop?

I don’t really think their uniqueness originates from independence. Countless K-pop idols think around solo careers once they achieve a level that success, discuss it with their management and also pursue solo projects. It’s not that they perform this because huge Hit gives an ext freedom. What’s distinctive here is that large Hit doesn’t develop solo projects. Us emphasize the team image. But of food the members space individuals, and also have their own identities, so we encourage and also support mixtapes and totally free release songs, which permit the artist come express us with less liability than an main solo project. Because we began taking this approach, many more companies began pursuing much more unofficial mixtapes or cost-free release monitor in addition to main solo projects. I think in part way huge Hit aided enrich the music market.

Regarding GFriend, they’ve released great content therefore far. What we’re do the efforts to perform is refine and streamline a storyline, a concept, therefore that as soon as they’re top top their following project it would make sense just how they arrived on a new style. Us are also going to be fostering an audition because that a girl group with united state and source Music. Similar to with Disney — animations, family movies, Marvel and also Star wars — ns am make the efforts to approach market segmentation while retaining the virtues that K-pop.

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One thing we haven’t discussed yet is army (the fandom name of BTS’s avid supporters around the world). You’re planning a lot come involve the fans, indigenous the development of Weverse (a fan app) and also Weply (an e-commerce platform) to movies. What must BTS pan and big Hit followers be looking the end for?

First, the following album. It’s going great. As you know, many civilization are saying the BTS is the Beatles that the Youtube era, or the they’re the Beatles of the 21st century. I know they haven’t got to that stature, though I’m honored. However I believe there is part connotation come this title, i m sorry is the BTS to be able to produce a an international fandom, i m sorry was really rare. Through that gigantic fandom, they to be able come reshape the order of commerce; they room creating new forms that communication. And they’ve embodied a specific spirit of the bsci-ch.orgs and also formed a new musical message. So in the way, it’s reminding numerous of the Beatles.

I expect to defend that honorable title and remain heroic figures down the line favor the Beatles. To acquire there, it would certainly be an excellent if BTS could continue to obtain recognition in major worldwide arenas. It would be quite to acquire some reaction native the Grammys; army has lengthy awaited a BTS performance at the Grammys. Ns was fortunate to become an Academy member, for this reason I’d love to talk about this additional with the Grammys since I believe we have actually something symbolic come contribute.