Language, cultural differences, fear of the new/unknown/different, lack of openness to new experiences, inherent influence of political ideologies are just some of the multiple barriers to entry that BTS and ARMY had to face [still facing] in trying to crack the US music market. Barriers to entry is concept more popular in the business segment and refers to obstacles that prevent new competitors from easily entering an industry or area of business.
With the plethora of press and news that came out across the globe regarding BTS’ success in nabbing a #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, a salient theme is how the success of BTS could mean increased potential for Kpop in general to breakthrough the US market as well.
An interesting angle I have not seen anyone talk about though is how the success of BTS can actually be an added “barrier to entry” for Kpop.
Though BTS might have cracked the barrier a bit, it still exists. The slight dent BTS caused required & still requires super human effort from both BTS and ARMY. Change is either a result of a radical revolution or a slow, painful chipping off the existing block. I’d say we’re the latter.
Now that BTS is slowly gaining attention of the general public, the challenge most Kpop acts that want to follow in their footsteps will face is that they will be compared to the “first” one who actually did it. Society has a fascination for the first but never the second or the third. More so if the standard set by the first is extremely high. This is how BTS becomes an additional barrier to entry. To this date no one not even BTS themselves have a clear understanding of the reason behind their global success.
The most difficult thing in replicating a phenomena is that there is no formula, no one size fits all rule. Though Gladwell’s Tipping Point tries to identify the agents of change that can aid in tipping, ensuring that all those elements exist is the biggest challenge. There has to be people that acts as connectors, mavens, salesmen. The message should stick or resonate, be memorable, and finally, cliche as it may sound timing is everything. All these fortunately exists in the BTS phenomena. You have the ARMY who acts as connectors, mavens, salesmen. You have BTS putting out music that resonate with a wide array of audience. In addition, the sincerity and authenticity BTS in presenting themselves to the world resonate with diverse audience particularly in the era of pretenses. In terms of timing, BTS comes at a time of heated, more prevalent discourse on racism, xenophobia, and push for diversity and inclusion.