Stan World is a virtual realm full of virtual resorts. Stars and brands can own and operate resorts, and users have the freedom to experience those platforms, including concerts, malls, and theme parks. Virtual resorts are essentially Stan World’s definition of how media franchises expand through digital platforms.
This is the 4th article of an ongoing series of analyses of stars and brands that went through major changes into the digital age, to achieve greater success: Fanthropology — The Study of Fans and IP’s (Stars and Brands).
There’s no need to reiterate the dominance of BTS, a world leader in K-pop. Since their debut in 2013, they went from being a nobody to arguably the most influential pop culture icon in recent years. In their early years, nobody thought they would become big in Korea, let alone dominate the world.
Now in 2019, it’s a completely different story. There is a long list of K-pop performers that came before and after BTS, but none of them reached the level of a cultural impact as BTS has had. BigHit Entertainment, their management company, became the most valuable Korean music entertainment company in a mere few years. So what sets BTS apart from the rest of the pack? Why do they continue to dominate?
Standing Out from the Rest
My previous post covers BTS’s identity in more detail, but to sum it up:
- BTS, unlike many other K-pop groups, actively participate in songwriting.
- The message in their songs includes a diversity of topics.
Many critics and fans point out that K-pop seems manufactured, mainly due to the fact that in most cases, artists only do what they are told to do — songs, lyrics, choreography, and so on. BTS does this the exact opposite way. They don’t do everything by themselves, but still actively participate in songwriting and music production.
The message is what really sets them apart. Their topics include ‘loving oneself,’ ‘social injustice,’ and ‘rebel against authority’ — these themes are not easily found in the music industry in 2019. The message is what really digs into the emotions of listeners, and serves as the driving force of commitment by fans.
Social Media Activism
BTS is notorious for its active engagement in social media. They regularly have post-concert chat sessions with fans, post video diaries, and respond to questions on Twitter. This way, their fans become much more involved with the stars — leading to benefits on both ends.
Allowing fans to become vocal also allows for fan-created activities, such as translation of Korean TV shows featuring BTS, and engaging in discussions with one another on fan cafes and social media. This results in even greater passion and loyalty.
The Fans’ Experience
BigHit Entertainment greatly emphasizes the importance of their fans’ experience. This is extremely important — their entire focus lies on how to make the ‘BTS experience’ more accessible and enjoyable for fans. Why? A better experience allows for not only greater monetization potential but also heightened emotional attachment to the experience.
In June, BigHit launched Weverse, a global fan community app for the company’s K-pop groups, including BTS. It’s basically a social media app, but one exclusive for BTS, TXT, GFRIEND, and their fans. This app allows fans to cut out all the unnecessary content from traditional social platforms, and only focus on the content they wish to see. I must say, it’s a very intuitive, yet extremely effective campaign by BigHit.
Streamlining the experience also applies to merchandise. BigHit opened pop-up stores and online shopping apps to further alleviate the ‘hassle’ fans would otherwise have to go through to purchase BTS goods.
Continue to Beat the Odds
There isn’t a single, definite explanation as to why BTS is so successful, but these small factors combine to become a powerful formula. Plus, the clear focus is on the fans and their experience — this is what makes BTS and BigHit really stand out from the rest. They didn’t stop after reaching №1 on Billboard — an incredible feat for a Korean boy band — but they kept continuing to challenge themselves to create an even better experience for their fans, thereby raising the K-pop community to another level.
A World for Stars, Brands, and Fans
BTS is living proof of how strong and beneficial a dedicated fanbase can be. So in reality, BTS doesn’t have just 7 members, but also multi-millions of active fan-members. Why is this important? Today’s digital media — anything from pop stars to movies and games — is heavily dependent on the fanbase, much more than it did in the past. Today’s technology is also en route to the digital/virtual realm, so combining these 2 factors is essentially the formula for success. How do we integrate an active fan community with the technology of tomorrow?
Enter Stan World. Virtual resorts owned and operated by stars and brands is the most desirable solution for a growing fanbase. From online stores and theme parks to virtual concerts and fan meetings, everything a fan would want to experience is possible in Stan World. The relationship between the stars and fans is the core of the world we will create, and if BTS has shown us anything, user experience and involvement are pivotal to company growth and success.