The Power Of Fan Bases

“When Anti-Asian Parody Targeted BTS, the Boy Band’s Fan Army Mobilized”:

What kind of crazy, fucked-up world do we live in where a boy band singing in a foreign language has more credibility than all the American acts in the hit parade? One in which a foreign power realizes you build fan bases from the bottom, not the top, and you superserve those who care and not those who do not.

It’s like today’s hit music is a missile site. All these wankers shooting off every damn day to get us to pay attention, to the point where their names turn us off. We’re never gonna listen to their music, we don’t care, we no longer live in the monoculture of eighties MTV, but these acts and their purveyors believe we still do. I’m not sure all publicity is good publicity, unless you’re an airhead Kardashian ripping off the brain dead. Music must represent something, say something, to stick.

Like BTS’s.

HUH? You mean those dancing fool Koreans?


This is about culture, the culture of the act itself. All the members of BTS have personalities, they have rough edges, they express themselves, to the point that fans feel they know them and become attached to them. We all need something to believe in, and what we believe in most is humanity, that which touches our souls. But in America today it’s constantly tribal warfare, a zero-sum game, I hate what you like and vice versa, and you must like what I like or you’re a worthless piece of shit. And we see this argument not only minute by minute online, but second by second!

But the most powerful army in the music world operates in stealth mode. You remember stealth, when the U.S. wanted to hide its jets so that they could go unnoticed until they bombed the landscape, made a big impact, they designed stealth aircraft, that’s a much better strategy than constant carpet bombing, the music model of the last few decades, make me puke. Come on, there are acts that we hate in principle, because of overexposure, even though we’ve never heard a lick of their music.

Now a fan base can become one of the aforementioned warring tribes. What they do is spam and insult everyone who speaks ill of their master, it’s scorched earth, and also laughable, because these fans are operating in a knee-jerk fashion, there’s no thinking at all, that’s one of the big problems in America today, the lack of thinking, analysis, we don’t teach it in school and most people believe they can function and win without it, but it’s nearly impossible.

So, the BTS team, i.e. Bit Hit Entertainment, now called HYBE, takes a classic construction and reformulates it for the present. Why does vision always come from outside? He may have been a crook, but Lou Pearlman was absolutely brilliant, he built the biggest bands in the land, in the world!, outside the traditional system, he saw a hole when no one else did. Then we had One Direction. The band didn’t win the “X Factor,” proving that winning is secondary, a false triumph, that it’s the talent, the songs, the je ne sais quoi that puts something over the top. Unlike ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, One Direction didn’t dance, but that’s one of the reasons it succeeded, the members were perceived to be three-dimensional, to the point where Harry Styles is still a giant today. And One Direction wasn’t built on radio, but online, there were almost no hits, but they sold out stadiums. So BTS comes up with an act that grows online, that does not depend on radio, whose members evidence rich identities while dancing…AND THEY BECOME GIGANTIC!

Think about that, Big Hit/HYBE is making an act for today.

And unlike all the American labels signing the prepubescent and trying to have them hit on their first vapid track, Big Hit/HYBE plays the long game, there is no credibility unless you play the long game, you make fans one by one, they spread the word, if everybody knows about it no one talks about it, fans want to own the group, and in today’s world it can be huge but appear small, because it’s not constantly self-promoting in the media. You trust another fan, you don’t trust the media, not only in music.

And since the BTS Army is operating online, which major news outlets still don’t understand, it’s a stealth operation. It’s off the radar until there’s a surgical strike, like the demand for tickets for that Trump rally back in Oklahoma. Everybody, I mean EVERYBODY, thought that many Trumpers wanted to brave possible Covid-19 infection to hear the Donald’s words, a secondary stage was even constructed outside the arena for overflow. But it was far from a full house, and big media didn’t realize what had happened until after the speech was over, when the BTS Army told them.

This isn’t an I hate you, no I hate YOU Twitter war, this is a campaign more akin to the sixties than the twenty first century. Remember when part of being a revolutionary was having a sense of humor? Not only Abbie Hoffman, but the “National Lampoon”…you had to question authority, make fun of it, and only the hip people got the joke. Once everybody can get the joke, it loses its power.

So, needless to say, BTS is Korean. And when a Chilean TV program made racist, anti-Asian comments, their army swarmed in. Yes, all the fans are linked, unlike in the pre-internet days, a campaign can be organized and executed nearly instantaneously. Old people have to call, and you wonder why young people never talk on the phone…WHO WANTS TO WASTE THAT MUCH TIME!

For far too long rappers’ beef has been with each other, come on, they’re shooting each other and…those in power just don’t care, they truly don’t. But if said rappers focused their ire on those in power…whoa, just you wait.

The truth is you can organize online and your ranks can be instantly visible, illustrating the power they truly have. Forget polls that get it wrong. Powerful people in the straight world are all about holding on to power, they look backward, not forward. But the youth have no allegiance to the past, no assets to protect, especially in an on demand world where so much is virtual, and they can strike power’s vulnerable hot spots and make a difference.

Come on… Elected officials first and foremost must be elected. And to run a campaign, they use data. This is what is happening in Michigan right now, Covid-19 is raging, but Governor Whitmer is afraid to lock down because of the vocal backlash she received from right wingers the last time. But if there were a bigger, more organized army…

This is one of AOC’s points, and dismiss the message at your peril, you advertise online now, that’s how you reach people:

“A ‘Super PAC’ Says Spending By Democrats Was Unwise”:

Old thinking is you make it obvious, you dumb it down so anybody can understand it…and anybody can ignore it. You don’t cry in plain sight, you don’t bitch to the powers-that-be, you organize your fans for a surgical strike…your fans are so dedicated to the cause that they can form their own agenda, off the radar, that ends up surprising people, demonstrating how those who have been disregarded previously are huge in number, and as a result wield power and change hearts and minds.

We are living in the 2020s, and the music business and mainstream media are still operating in the 1980s, complaining ad infinitum that someone is moving their cheese. It’s time these enterprises decamped to today.

No one has universal mindshare. Everything happens online. Look at Trump, he lost his Twitter power and now most people don’t even get the message. It’s the personal tools online that have power, the one to many. If you’re not singular, if you don’t own your own identity, if you don’t think for yourself, you’ve got no army, at best you’ve just got a bunch of blind followers, and others shrug when they deign to wield their “power.” But it’s different when the fan base represents a thinking enterprise, that cannot be dismissed out of hand. It’s the difference between AM and FM…but both mean little today, it all happens online, did you read the latest research? Read it: It’s the antidote to all the self-serving press radio puts out that it’s still king.

We need more BTS armies. We need more acts that generate this passion. And you may laugh at BTS, but the past always comes back, but with a twist!

Maybe there is hope. Maybe music still does have power.

But it’s got to be done completely different from today.

Money is secondary to power, and if you have power there’s plenty of money. But in greedy America, no one seems to realize this, but it’s still the truth. The BTS army has power, and unlike the army of most nations, it can turn on a dime, take action without endless debate. This is the future, whether you want to go there or not.

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