Inside how BTS took over America with seven members and one heart

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Frank Micelotta/REX/Shutterstock (9686817l) BTS,Jungkook,Jimin,V,Suga,Jin,j-hope Billboard Music Awards, Show, Las Vegas, USA - 20 May 2018
BTS at the Billboard Awards (Picture: Rex Features)

In the Mnet reality TV show American Hustle Life which aired in mid-2014, or a year after made their debut, BTS were tasked in a mission to hand out flyers on the streets of Los Angeles for their free concert with the aim of gathering 200 people for the event.

That was four years ago and through struggles and hard work, and with the help of their ARMY fans, BTS have achieved huge success in their career including getting US media attention and a lot of TV exposure in the US.

Today, BTS have achieved multiple successes through their music and they were able to appear on major US TV shows including the Billboard Music Awards in 2017 and 2018, Ellen Show, American Music Awards (AMAs), Jimmy Kimmel Live, Dick Clarks Rockin New Years Eve, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Good Morning America and Americas Got Talent.

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But before these US TV appearances came to happen, Big Hit Entertainment strategised to enter the US entertainment market.

The company contacted Gramophone Media, a US company specialising in public relations and other services.

Gramophone Media became Big Hits US partner for BTS from 2016 until early 2018.

After our first few months together, we extended our contract to include A&R, Artist Development, Marketing and basically taking care of most the US needs, Gramophone founder Eshy Gazit told

Gazit added that Big Hits initial goal was to expand BTS exposure in the US.

After the first phase, I started to see the path to a wide US success. I created the master plan for navigating through the mainstream through radio, TV, collabs, press and other others. I promised Mr. Bang (Si-hyuk, founder of Big Hit) to be on the Billboard top 100 by the end of 2017, he said.

Gramophones first major campaign for BTS was the Wings tour in the US in 2017.

At that time, no one really knew who BTS was in the US except for the K-pop core community. We took on the challenge and started looking for our partners in the media. We were able to secure a great New York Times 360 piece as well as other great looks despite many rejections from all types of media outlets, he said.

I knew, however, that we were planting a seed, and my goal was to have the media start getting familiar with the band and the K-pop phenomena.

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Gazit said his plans for BTS in the US were loved by Big Hit and the company gave me the freedom to initiate many opportunities. Sometimes I think that they didnt believe I could pull off some of the things I was going for.

He said he introduced artists Steve Aoki, Halsey and The Chainsmokers to BTS, and worked closely with Dick Clark Productions, convincing them to feature the band during the BBMAs live TV show.

BTS appeared at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) and won the Top Social Artist award.

The award was never broadcast live before but after weeks of conversations and numerous emails, he said, Dick Clark bosses gave the go-signal to include it in the live show.

This was the point when everyone was starting to ask who is BTS?, Who is BTS? It took the industry by surprise. ARMY was showing up louder than any fanbase in the world, Gazit said.

Last year, BTS appeared at the AMAs and shows of Kimmel, DeGeneres and Corden, and the New Years Eve special.

Gazit said he suggested them to Big Hit, directly booked BTS for the shows and fought for every booking.

I remember saying to Big Hit just weeks before the AMAs and when almost everything was booked, “Get ready, you are officially going to be huge in America by the end of 2017”, he said.

During a meeting with the CEO of Dick Clark Productions, Gazit said, I was able to secure the AMAs booking and the NY Rocking Eve with Ryan Seacrest. The AMAs were BTS first live TV performance in the US.


After almost a year of conversations, he was able to book BTS for the Jimmy Kimmel Summer stage concert.

With Ellen, after dozens of emails, I decided to email the entire staff (which is a big no no:)) but it got their attention. Finally, I locked James Corden in at the last minute on the day that BTS arrived in the US. We also booked interviews with E!, Access Hollywood and ET as well as having the Rolling Stones follow BTS for a day. KTLA, iHeart interview, and many other opportunities in between, he revealed.

Gazit added: See for me, it wasnt just about BTS as a band, it was also about breaking the barriers between East and West. It was about allowing an Asian act to perform on American TV and other major events. Its about the connection that is available through music for all human beings.

But it took a lot of hard work to get BTS on US TV shows.

BTS rock out during Dick Clarks New Years Rockin Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2018 (Picture: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for dcp)

I wouldnt say hard, I would say it took many hours of hard work, sleepless nights and re-thinking the strategy over and over again and being very persistent. The key was to really let the media know about the incredible fan base that BTS has (ARMY) and its huge engagement; as well as enrolling them in the mission of bringing together East and West as one, Gazit added.


But he revealed that US TV shows initially rejected having BTS as guests.

Oh yeah, at first it was every single TV show. The reason was that BTS wasnt yet known in the US and in order to be booked on TV you got to have many things going on that are relevant to this specific market, he said.

Gazit said the companys most successful campaign in the US for BTS was the one he calls as The US TV explosion.

AMAs, then Kimmel, Ellen, Corden, E! news, ET, Access Hollywood, KTLA, leading all the way to the first minutes of 2018 with Mic Drop at the Ball Drop at the New Years Rockin Eve. Within two months BTS was everywhere as well as charted on the Billboard charts and the radio. Their streaming, their social media following has tripled over one year and that was the tipping point for BTS success in the US, he said.

He said working with BTS and Big Hit was an incredible experience.

BTS members are really amazing human beings. I mean it with all my heart. Each of them has a different charm and talent and together they create a huge positive energy that is unstoppable. Seven members one heart. Big Hit was great to work with as well, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with many great people including Mr. Bang, he said.

Gramophone is currently handling Monsta X and Tiffany Young in the US and Gazit said other K-pop acts can also do well in the US.

K-pop is not new to the US. For many years, K-pop concerts are selling out arenas and big venues such as MSG, Staples Center, The Forum and many other venues. I believe that as big as BTS is, its important to bring forth many other great and talented bands from Korea (and the rest of Asia) and really introduce the full K-pop culture and experience alongside with the great traditions, aesthetics and the excellence of Korea, he explained.

Gazit said Monsta X, which are two years younger than BTS, present a very high energy show. They recently performed in LA at the same venue as the AMAs (Microsoft Theater) to a sold out screaming audience. Everyone that was there can tell you that it is clear that they are the next to make it big in the US and worldwide.

Tiffany is coming full circle and returning to her home state CA. With a worldwide H&M campaign, powerful music and voice, she is taking over the U.S. and no one can resist her kindness and compassion, he added.

More: K-Pop

Gazit said the US market has changed, explaining that its a new era. An era where the U.S. youth is showing a real acceptance of different cultures and lifestyles. Music from all over the world is shared online in real time.

2019 is going to be the year that K-pop is going to take its next step in the US and all over the world. Its unavoidable and it is a long time coming. When BTS performed at the AMAs I watched them and cried. I knew then, that we turned a corner of no return. BTS has opened the flood gates for K-pop and music from Asia and there is so much more to come. Its time for all of us to let music connect us as one, he said.

MORE: BTS Jungkook melts hearts as he tells the Army he loves them on Good Morning America

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