Normally, articles like these start out with a cursory reference to Gangnam-style by Psy, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin. This time we’re going to be taking a look at K-Pop Boybands and what blockchain projects can learn from the flashiest “idols” in the K-Pop scene. In our work with clients, we often get similar questions like “how do we get more known in this space?” We’ll try to address some of those questions today.
K-Pop has taken the world by storm, creating a global following of diehard fans. They’re addicted to the eclectic mix of Hip-Hop, R&B, Rock, Pop, precise choreography, and outlandish fashion. K-Pop manages to meld it all into a wacky, spicy, style of music only S. Korea can provide. Don’t blame me if you come away as a K-Pop fan at the end of this article.
*Just to add in, this article does focus on boybands. We haven’t featured any girlbands due to the unfortunate reality of the blockchain space right now. More to come on this topic.*
Walk with me while I’m talking, because I don’t want to lose you. You’re probably thinking “K-Pop Boybands and Blockchain, WTF?!” I’ll forgive you if you’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve got a couple screws loose. No, it isn’t the newest token offering. Seriously, K-Pop and blockchain have a lot more in common than you might think.
I am not simply making a cheap reference to S. Korea’s love of all things blockchain, the high rate of crypto adoption, or its track record of friendly regulations. I mean, from a business perspective, the two are indeed quite similar, and I am going to show you how.
Let’s take a look at one of the hottest K-Pop Boybands to ever grace the stage, BTS. For those of you who aren’t familiar with BTS, don’t worry, I won’t make you feel like a square. BTS, also known as Beyond The Scene, or Bangtan Boys (Bulletproof Boy Scouts), is a seven member K-Pop group, and one of the largest musical acts in Asia.
They were the first K-Pop band to win a Billboard award and were one of the first K-pop bands to break into the US market. They have a global legion of fans known as the BTS army. They sell out stadium-sized shows in seconds. The band is comprised of members Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM (Rap Monster), Jimin, V, Jungkook, and was formed by Big Hit entertainment.
Now let’s take a look at one of the hottest blockchain projects ever created, Ethereum. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ethereum, don’t worry, I won’t make you feel like a square. Ethereum, also known as ETH, Ether, or “The World Computer” (Platform for DApps), had 8 founders, and is the second most successful public blockchain.
It was one of the first public blockchains to break into the Asian software development community in a major way. They have a global legion of developers known as the Ethereum community. They sell out tickets to their yearly conference, Devcon, in a matter of hours. The project was founded by Vitalik Buterin, Anthony Di Lorio, Charles Hoskinson, Mihai Alisie, Amir Chetrit, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood, & Jeffrey Wilke, and they formed the Ethereum Foundation.
I said that, to say this:
Another super important aspect of K-Pop idols and their success is their style and fashion. Brands can literally become international sensations overnight, selling out every last piece of inventory within hours, simply because an idol like RM (formerly known as Rap Monster) of BTS wore an item onstage.
K-Pop stars and fashion have a symbiotic relationship that creates a sort of halo effect from the idol’s success. The idols use the hottest brands to develop a signature style, a mix of hip-hop streetwear, Korean designer labels, and international designer labels. The brands gain an incredible following of idol-fanbase customers who purchase in an effort to mimic their favorite idol, who they see as a fashion trendsetter.
Hopefully you’re still with me, and you can see how some of these same correlations can carry over to the blockchain world. In the blockchain space, thought-leaders are in a parallel position of esteem in their own sphere of influence, and the same kind of halo effect can exist, and often does. We’ve seen blockchain “idols” like CZ (Changpeng Zhao), CEO of Binance have exactly this kind of impact on a token’s price by adding it to the Binance platform. It’s so common that the term “Binance Effect” has been coined to describe this halo effect. More recently, he delisted BitcoinSV, Craig Wright’s contentious Bitcoin fork, and we’ve seen the opposite of a halo effect take place as BSV prices plummeted, due to the blockchain community following CZ’s lead.
The impact they can have on the projects they lend support to should not be underestimated. This also brings up another important fact about K-Pop, namely, that behind all the fun, glitz, glamour, and catchy club rhythms, it’s all business. At the end of the day, it’s all about the almighty Korean Won. Blockchain is all business too, in the truest capitalist free-market sense of disintermediating inefficient business models. In blockchain, you either add value or become obsolete.
What can Blockchain learn from K-Pop idols?
Every K-Pop Boyband has a leader who is the main frontman and primary vocalist or rapper. The leader is usually the most popular in the band with teenage Korean girls, and is seen as a heartthrob. In blockchain, we see a similar dynamic with project leaders like Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum, or Da Hongfei and the Neo blockchain. They are looked up to for their visionary work, knowledge, and leadership, instead of singing, rapping, and dance moves.
They have fans and followers just like K-Pop idols, who hang on every single tweet, or statement issued by their favorite blockchain personality. The leadership role is especially significant for blockchain communities, just like it is for K-Pop Boybands. To illustrate my point, let’s compare Vitalik Buterin with G-Dragon, the frontman and leader of the super popular K-Pop band Big Bang.
Vitalik vs. G-Dragon
This leads in nicely to the next similarity between K-Pop and Blockchain, which is the team that organizes around the leadership. The two important things to remember for blockchain projects, are:
- There is power in numbers.
- Success in flavors of identity.
So what do I mean by this? Well, in a K-Pop Boyband for instance, there are always a lot of members in the band. This is done intentionally to have “something for everyone” so to speak. Let’s pretend for a moment, that you’re a Korean teenage girl and you really love ginger Korean boys. Chances are, your favorite K-Pop Boyband has you covered. In K-Pop Boybands, there is always the lead heartthrob, the strong silent one, the punk, the rapper, the dejected one, the funny one, the blonde one, etc.
Please don’t take me too literally and miss my point, in blockchain, we have similar roles. We have the genius leader, the cryptography wizard, the security expert, the guy with the VC firm contacts, the mogul/businessman, the advisor with major league connections, etc. If you’re not one of these, become one! This is especially true in really technical projects where all-star teams are pushing the boundaries of decentralization. Every member of the team should strive to become respected in their field of expertise. In this aspect, they can become thought leaders due to their specialized knowledge or the cornerstone role they fulfil in the project.
The teams which have really nailed this, who really have played off of the diversity and strengths of the members in the team, have become very influential in the space. I am not picking on Vitalik, and the Ethereum team, quite to the contrary, I am trying to highlight the stellar job they have done at becoming thought leaders themselves. G-Dragon himself would be proud.
We spoke above about the halo effect the K-Pop Boybands have on the products they use and the fashions they wear. Korean brands like Covernat and Liful have reached an international audience because of this phenomenon. We’ve seen a similar thing happen with projects launched on Ethereum, where having Vitalik, Joseph Lubin, or Anthony DiLorio as an advisor helped token launches reach new heights. Ethereum has done an excellent job of building whole technology stacks and infrastructures around things like Maker DAO, 0x protocol, and the projects which are built on these protocols. The entire ecosystem supports each other in a similar way to K-Pop idols and the brands they endorse.
Another thing to keep in mind is that K-Pop has become a global force primarily through social media. It first reached audiences outside S. Korea because of idols releasing videos on Youtube. Without social media K-Pop’s meteoric and viral rise would not have been possible. The same can be said for blockchain. K-Pop and blockchain have both become globally established through widespread use of social media and mobile devices. Crypto Twitter is the perfect example of this.
To boost your blockchain boyband, remember:
- Have multiple team members excel in different areas
- If you’re not one of the best, become one of the best
- Help other projects working on similar problems
- Make your opinions heard on social media
- Invest time and money into becoming a thought leader
If your team is widely respected for their knowledge and abilities, it’s a sure fire way to start challenging on the Billboard charts.
Being a K-Pop idol is extremely difficult. It requires 100% dedication, and it’s not for everybody. A lot has been written of the high cost of fame. Idols are prepared to give themselves completely to their artform and their fans. They are always in the public eye and very rarely have any privacy or time alone. Being an idol is more than just fashion, it’s a lifestyle.
The same can be said for thought leaders and influencers in blockchain. They don’t just simply spout empty platitudes and gain a following. They have a following because they are doing things, and pushing boundaries and making people want to pay attention, just like K-Pop idols. It is just as much a lifestyle. The key is to play off of the diversity in a team’s strengths, so that every member becomes respected in their own right.
As G-Dragon once said, * 우상이 경쟁자가 될 때까지 일하십시오. *, or in English * Work until your idols become your rivals – G-Dragon *
If you enjoyed this article, and would like to read more, you can sign up for the Hype.Partners newsletter and never miss another post!
Sharing is caring