Music Should Not be A Tribal Competition

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

Music should be something we all love together.

That's quite the bombastic headline for this article, but let me explain.

To put it mildly, BTS fans are an enthusiastic bunch. The 'Army', as the fanbase is known, has a complete, nigh-on religious devotion to the K-Pop superstars. On the one hand, this is brilliant to see; the band have unified thousands upon thousands of people, bringing them together and enabling them to make new friends and support each other as well as the band.

However, there is a less pleasant and more aggressive side to the fanbase. BTS were due to drop a music video on Friday, along with other pop artists such as Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. This led to one fan on Twitter rallying the Army, saying that if they "want to surpass our previous record, [they] gotta stream hard hard". This is all well and good, until the next bit:

"Let's show them who runs the world."

Others then replied with "other fandoms don't stand a chance" and" let's show them who the boss is here". Though it all comes from a deep love for the Bangtan Boys, it's concerning to see that they are trying to pit themselves against the rest of music. Music should represent togetherness and community, but here we're seeing it become tribal, with fanbases becoming factions.

The devotion of BTS' fans is second to none.

Music isn't the place to start faux wars. BTS are great, undoubtedly, but trying to minimise the success of other great artists isn't the way music fans should act. Why not support all of them? If you don't like the others, why not just support your favourite artist for music purposes, rather than this desire to take down others? It's a form of elitism, this idea that one artist is objectively, factually better than another, when in fact, that's a circumstantial opinion.

There's nothing inherently wrong with breaking records; that's a great thing. In doing so, you're pretty much guaranteed to beat the other artists anyway. The key difference here is the motivation behind the action. Doing it purely out of a love for the band and in support of them is a far better reason than breaking records out of a desire to "show them who the boss is".

At its heart, this is a non-story. Nobody's in danger, nobody's getting hurt and artists such as Swift, Styles and Gaga will all continue to have huge success. If BTS fans find this, I'm sure I'll be in for some stick. This isn't meant to be an attack on them; they're all passionate people who love the band. But the idea of tribalism and fanbases pitting themselves against each other in some sort of music war is the exact opposite of what music should represent. We all love music - should we not love it together, rather than separately?

It's key to note that this is not limited to BTS; there are other fandoms out there who have similar traits. Indeed, one Taylor Swift fan went on a comically embarassing 14-tweet marathon which targeted BTS and their fans. In this world of increasing division and segregation, let's not lead music down the same path. Instead, let's make music a place of unity, where we come together through the power of music.