As mentioned earlier this week, BTS’s “Dynamite” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, a historic accomplishment. RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook are now the first all-Korean artists to claim the title – and it happened on Jungkook’s birthday so it’s been a balls-out celebration ever since. The band held a press conference today to mark the achievement, reflecting on their seven year journey to the top of the global charts, sharing their gratitude to the fans, expressing their disbelief that it actually happened, and what their future goals are.
To people in the west, this might seem a little extra, to be holding a press conference for this reason. But that would be dismissing what this means not just for the group, but for their country, and for artists from around the world who are making music outside of system. That’s why South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, acknowledged the milestone:
And it’s not extra when they’re still out here as humble as ever and … of course… because it’s BTS, talking about their new targets – one target in particular: the Grammys. During the press conference, Suga made it clear that they would like to be invited back to Grammys to perform on their own, not with any other artists but by themselves. Because, clearly, with all of these records broken, with all of these streams, with all of these albums sold, with the #1 song on the Hot 100, they’ve earned that spot. If it were up to me, they’d get a double spot, to truly showcase what they can bring to a live event – if there are any truly live events in our near future.
When BTS performs at award shows in South Korea, it’s almost never just one number. LOL, they’ve been known to take up as much as almost 40 minutes, performing medleys of their past and present work, one song building on the next, until the performance climaxes with pyro and choreo. That, obviously, is probably not a possibility at the Grammys but my point is, what you’re seeing on western television, at the VMAs or at the Billboard Awards or whatever events they appear at outside of East Asia, it only represents a fraction of what they can achieve on a stage – and often limited by the tech and venue requirements of western shows. South Korean technology is so much more advanced than what we’re accustomed to seeing in the west. Over the last few years, North American telecommunications companies are constantly making trips to Seoul to pick up on their best practices.
And still, as ambitious as BTS is about the Grammys, there are actually much bigger priorities. As BTS revels in getting to #1 on the Hot 100, their label, Big Hit Entertainment, is going public:
This had been in the works for a while and then the pandemic hit so there were some minor setbacks, but as we’ve seen, even during a global health crisis, Big Hit’s biggest asset, BTS, continued to innovate so that while many other media companies were scrambling to make up losses, BTS and Big Hit continued to generate revenue.
In the past, with western artists, particularly boy bands, you may be thinking now about past scandals, how young artists have been taken advantage of by their managers and labels, with corporations walking away with so much leaving the artist short-changed. And there certainly are some assumptions out there about BTS from those who don’t know the group’s history and believe the stereotype: that they’re just a product of manufacturing – puppets. Well, that would be wrong.
What makes this development about Big Hit Entertainment going public even more interesting then is that BTS, all seven members, are now SHAREHOLDERS.
More congrats to BTS. Each member has received 68,385 shares of their agency and each share will be worth up to $113 when the agency goes IPO this year. That means each member will be at least $7.7 million rich the moment shares are listed. Of course it's only a start. pic.twitter.com/muyaWvItoD— Sam Kim (@samkimasia) September 2, 2020
It’s only a start. They are now part owners of the company that made them and that they in turn helped make. Which means all the work they’ve done these last seven years was an investment in themselves. It also means that…they have more work to do, Christ! Because as shareholders they are now responsible for the ongoing success of Big Hit, not just by contributing as a band but as talent developers, building a pipeline for future artists, working with artists in other fields to create new products and merchandise, providing input in the direction of the company, voting on and shaping company decisions. And that, in turn, sets them up for when they move out of the performing space – at least on this scale – as they slowly approach the next phase of their careers, in their 30s. Pop star life may not be forever but CEO life does not have an expiration date.
This is revolutionary – and that’s not hyperbole. #1 on the Hot 100 is NOT BTS’s biggest achievement this week. That’s nothing compared to the fact that they’re now shareholders in their own label that’s just announced plans to “raise as much as 962.6 billion won ($812 million) in a South Korean initial public offering that is set to be the country’s largest in three years”.
So to go back to the timing thing that I wrote about the other day, and BTS’s deliberate and intentioned schedule for “Dynamite”, bringing it all together for the VMAs, the Hot 100, the Grammys deadline, they had their eyes timed to a much bigger prize: power. They have the paper, they have the power.
And, of course, the content keeps coming. Today BTS released the dance practice video for “Dynamite”. Dance practice videos are the reason why I first got so into BTS. I mean, their music videos are amazing but you don’t necessarily get the best sense of the choreo, how intricate it is, in the videos because they’re cutting between so many shots. Dance practice videos are shot from one angle and every member is seen on camera, every formation change is properly captured. Also, even though RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V (especially V), and Jungkook look gorgeous in their videos, their suits, their various costumes, as we know, the style that often best showcases dance is street clothing. So here’s the “Dynamite” dance practice – and remember, the choreography for “Dynamite” is far from their most difficult.