Big Hit Goes Public

They’re selling merch. You need to read this story, even if you hate BTS:

“BTS’s Loyal Army of Fans Is the Secret Weapon Behind a $4 Billion Valuation – What investors are really paying for is not necessarily the K-pop group or its management company, but its huge, highly connected ecosystem of followers.”:

Ignore the headline, I don’t agree with it, but be sure to read the article.

There are many music businesses today. Many ways to skin a cat. And despite triumphing over pirates, as a result of Spotify, the ecosystem of the major labels and their attendant infrastructure, i.e. radio and press, is woefully out of date.

Yes, we’ve been hearing about TikTok stars, we’re all aware of the story of Lil Nas X, but now what? Guy had a huge hit, he’s got name recognition but that’s about it.

Unlike BTS.

BTS is mobilizing its fan base. That’s what the above article is all about. The fans are spreading the word, buying the merchandise, buying the stock. They’re heavily involved in an alienated world where oftentimes it’s hard to find something to believe in, to live for.

And how are they doing it?

By making the act three-dimensional.

The traditional arc in today’s Top Forty world is to carpet bomb all media to the point where the most people are aware and then leverage that awareness in the straight business world, licensing your name/likeness/efforts to others, or starting a business yourself. It’s like everybody in the American music business has watched “Shark Tank” and the music is just a vehicle to get rich. How can fans identify with that?

Whereas BTS starts with the music, but it’s the penumbra that seals the deal. The group members reveal all their warts, their hopes and dreams. Note, this does not pay direct cash. We learned this years ago in internet world, you have to know when to monetize. If you’re trying to get paid for every effort you’ve lost the plot. Make someone a fan, bond them to you, and then they’ll give you all their money. BTS is owned by its fans, not by radio, not by streaming services, those are nearly irrelevant. It all happens elsewhere, on social media, places where fans can congregate. Which is why One Direction could sell out stadiums with only one radio hit in America. The fan base was rabid, they didn’t even listen to terrestrial radio, why?, what they needed to hear was on demand, at their fingertips, whenever they wanted it.

You’re in business for yourself these days. Sure, you can feature a famous rapper to gain attention to your track, but that’s all you’ve got, attention for one track, that does not make someone a fan, especially where there’s so much to pay attention to and be interested in 24/7.

Also, bonding fans takes a long time, it does not happen overnight.

You just don’t want to go to the show, you want to feel connected, you want ownership, which is what Big Hit has done with its IPO!

The values are staggering. A company with one hit act, that generates almost all of its revenue, is worth billions of dollars, doubling in value from the initial IPO price. What is driving the stock price? THE FANS! If you’re an investor following the fundamentals this investment makes no sense, unless you’re planning to get out soon. Shares are merch. You buy them to demonstrate your alignment, your belief in BTS. It’s kind of like owning a piece of the Green Bay Packers, but with much more involvement and many more perks. Once again, U.S. business is always looking up as opposed to down, but all the money is in looking down. Hell, how do you think Biden raised all that money? ONLINE! There are so many people in the world, many more than corporations, and when you group the people you end up with more money and more power than when you sell out to the corporations. Even worse, if you sell out to the corporations they own you, you’ve got to watch your step, whereas if you sell out to your fans, they approve of your behavior!

This is where the money is. I’m surprised no one in America has tried it. Taylor Swift complains that her catalog was sold out from under her. She should have just gone public and raised the money to buy her tracks.

And fans are not looking to buy shares to get rich. They won’t even really care if they go to zero in value. They got to go along for the ride, they were involved, they got to root for somebody. And, they were instantly part of a group with the same feelings and goals.

Yes, in the twentieth century you marketed to everybody. Today, you market to your niche, your dedicated customers.

Think of terrestrial radio and the Spotify Top 50. They appeal to a narrow slice of the public. Most people just don’t care. Whereas the money is generated elsewhere, where acts are in it for themselves. Sure, sometimes the two cross, but then again, so much falls out of the purview of the aforementioned charts/playlists.

You don’t need to beg for an add, you’ve got to micromanage your career, appealing to those who care, who will spread the word, do all the work for you. Come on, I read about music in the newspaper and I laugh. The stories are all placed there by publicists, it’s all hype. But if I hear about it from a friend, a trusted individual, I’m all ears.

And it’s kind of like Tesla. Other cutting edge companies in green technology and other tech verticals. People invest in them irrelevant of the initial return, they believe in the mission, which is why the Street and the short-sellers got Tesla so wrong. Furthermore, the public likes to lay down its cash for that which it believes in. You can rant all day about the build quality of a Tesla, but that’s not dissuading buyers. Hell, there’s a huge group of buyers who will be shamed by their friends if they don’t buy a Tesla. Forget D.C., the Fox News blather about the desire to have a zillion children and burn fossil fuels schlepping them around in a Suburban, if not two, today’s younger generation is incredibly ecologically knowledgeable, this is what they care about, climate change, the future of our nation, and if you play to them they’ve got unlimited money and time to give you.

That’s the lesson of yore. A fan will give you all their money, even if it means they cannot eat. I know people who ate hot dogs just so they could buy albums. Now they buy BTS stock and devote their time to the band, they’re not worried about how much they’re getting paid an hour, IT FEELS GOOD!

There’s a lot of unplowed ground here.

And funny how the innovation came from Korea.