How did BTS find its ARMY? The story behind their dedicated fan base
The Bangtan Boys, more popularly known as the boy band BTS, have leapt up to heights of popularity. This wildly popular South Korean band comprises of rapper RM or Kim Nam-joon, Jin (Kim Seok-jin), SUGA (Min Yoon-gi), J-hope (Jung Ho-seok), Jimin (Park Ji-min), V (Kim Tae-hyung), and Jung Kook (Jeon Jung-kook). Their unprecedented global success is partly credited to their devoted fanbase.
This extremely dedicated, organised, and kind fanbase called itself the BTS ARMY, or simply ARMY, short for Adorable Representative MC for Youth. All BTS fans are collectively brought together as ARMY because the K-pop band’s music & message finds a resonance – sometimes even life-saving resonance – for the fans of the band.
Two of their albums have consecutively appeared as number one on the Billboard charts, a world tour, a historic stadium show in NYC are just the most obvious successes they’ve had in recent times. These charming members are often received with deafening screams in any & every public appearance. Language, it turns out, is not a barrier.
Idol worship & BTS
Pop music catches on like wildfire often, so having a cult-like following does not raise eyebrows. We have the Swifties, the BeyHive, the Britney Army, the Bellarinas . . . you get the drift. In fact, having an organised following is not restricted to musicians. Take the Cumberbitches. Idol worship of superstars is nothing new. BTS ARMY, however, might be one of the kindest fanbases to ever exist.
ARMY is a moniker chosen by Big Hit Entertainment, the company credited with the launch of the band. Currently the ARMY makes for a substantial presence, when their digital footprints are concerned. Facebook is inundated with groups dedicated to K-pop, while the group’s Twitter audience is 29.2 million followers strong. On Instagram, 30.6 million followers of the boy band have come together.
These numbers tell the sheer reach of the fanbase. Add to that the secret groups, pages, accounts dedicated to the band, divided by geographical locations, songs, band members, and the audience base keeps getting stronger.
BTS grateful to its ARMY
“It is because ARMY exists that we exist,” Jin was quoted, making it clear that the boy band is grateful to the ARMY for their constant support. It’s a great fandom to be a part of – all you need to do is like BTS and you’ve secured entry. Unlike some vicious fandoms that resort to trolling or gatekeeping, BTS ARMY is one of the most welcoming fandoms to ever exist.
The ARMY was created by the boy band’s company in order to connect with fans. They were just starting out, and social media has sounded like a good way to create a presence and foster relationships with their fans. It added a certain level of intimacy for anyone who’s a fan of the band.
If you’re a hardcore fan, you’ll consider the elite tier aka the official membership, though. For about $30, fans can secure an official membership which grants access to early concert tickets and handwritten birthday wishes from BTS. There are rules, too. You cannot intentionally board the same plane as the band, or you risk getting your membership rescinded. There’s, in fact, a whole list of membership rules.
The love for BTS grows exponentially
According to reports by Spotify, BTS listeners have increased by a whopping 300% since they released their latest song “Dynamite”. “Dynamite” is also their first all-English single, which would explain the exponential increase in their fan base. At the same time, language was no barrier even before.
According to studies, the boy band alone has brought in substantial economic benefits to South Korea, contributing immensely to the GDP, attracting travellers to the country, among other things. The company that launched them is dwelling on this rise, with plans to launch an IPO and raking in hundreds of millions in revenue from merchandise sales.