BTS break records worldwide outselling international acts, but still overlooked at major US award shows
Given that BTS were one of the Billboard Hot 100 artists in 2019, the fact that they have a huge fanbase in America shouldn't be surprising. The group has taken over the world in the last few years and most of their international fans tend to be in their teens, but a significant number of them are quite older.
BTS had been busy this year with promotions for their new album, 'Map of the Soul: 7', which included six music videos, appearances and performances on the Grammys and 'The Late Late Show with James Corden', a global art project and a global conference. And a lot of us might wonder who exactly are BTS fans, or as they like to call themselves the 'BTS ARMY'?
A recent study by Cloud Cover Music took a look at Facebook user engagement to figure out who makes up the ARMY in America. Arguably the most fascinating finding was that the age group of ARMYs in the US with the largest number of fans appears to be 65+.
That BTS has senior citizens as fans should not be too surprising though. The group's initial music revolved around the issues faced by teenagers and young adults, especially young love, but over time their style has evolved to include mature concepts like self-love and development, the cognitive dissonance an artist faces, and Jungian philosophy, which expands their target audience quite a bit.
Older fans of K-pop are a growing demographic, earning many nicknames including 'auntie fans'. The modern K-pop phenomenon began in 1992 with Seo Taiji and Boys, an early group that saw huge success and found fans far beyond the South Korean borders. Seo Taiji and Boys consisted of three members including Yang Hyun-suk, the ex-CEO of YG Entertainment whose career has recently been derailed due to his embroilment in the Burning Sun scandal, among many other charges he is being investigated for.
Given that Seo Taiji and Boys were popular in the '90s, it makes perfect sense that K-pop has a huge section of mature age fans since the first wave of K-pop fans would currently be in their 30s or older. And many of the older K-pop fans love newer idol groups just as much, including BTS.
Expectedly, most of BTS' fanbase is female. And according to Cloud Cover Music's study, only 19% of their American fans are male. And while most of BTS' fanbase tend to be students, previous studies have found that the ARMY tends to be diverse in profession with the largest section of their working fans being involved in creative fields. These earlier studies have also found that the BTS ARMY was strongest in America based on traffic tracked through mentions on social media. The US ARMYs even have their own website dedicated to keeping up with group's latest activities.
Apart from age groups, the study also noted that the split between single users and those in a relationship who displayed an interest in BTS was fairly even, which is understandable given the group's focus on concepts like philosophy and self-discovery as opposed to only romance or social activities. Interestingly, about 21% of users who expressed interest in the BTS identified as conservative, which is over two times the percentage of the same group of users who showed interest in artists like Drake and The Weeknd.
BTS hail from the highly conservative and religious South Korea, which might be one of the main reasons they appeal to this group. And while racial bias might also factor in, given that black artists can often face significant backlash for simply being black, that is, perhaps, a study for another time.
BTS have found incredible success across the world, breaking all kinds of barriers, including religion and political affiliation down. By extension, they are also a contributing factor to South Korea's growing economy, easily surpassing several other major American artists including Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and Lil Nas X in album sales. They were also named the World's Highest-Paid Boy Band and K-Pop Act by Forbes in 2019.
The K-pop act also holds several records, including most-viewed YouTube video in 24 hours, first K-Pop act to be nominated for an AMA, most-followed Twitter account in Korea, and fastest time to reach one million followers on TikTok, among several others. They're also going to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for several accomplishments, including largest album sales in Korea with over four million copies of 'Map of the Soul: Persona' sold worldwide as of 2019. Their latest album 'MotS: 7' broke records in pre-orders and has already been named by Forbes as the best-selling album of the year in America with only two weeks of sales counted.
For many, these numbers and records would be enough to presume that the group have also bagged several American accolades, and yet, BTS is one of the groups that is consistently shunned by major award shows, much to the chagrin of ARMYs worldwide.