The hashtag #BillboardApologizeToBTS trended on Twitter after Billboard published an interview with Grammy nominee BTS on Aug. 26 and touched on chart manipulation allegedly done by fans to make BTS No. 1.
BTS’ “Butter” charted at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 for nine weeks while “Permission to Dance” topped the chart for one week.
The Billboard Hot 100 chart is based on US streaming (official audio and official video), radio airplay and sales.
In its article “Inside the Business of BTS — And the Challenges Ahead,” Billboard published, “On top of these pressures, both the group and the agency are coming under scrutiny for BTS’ recent chart successes, which fans of some competing acts say are achieved through concerted ‘manipulation’ antithetical to the charts’ purpose of accurately highlighting the world’s most popular acts. After ‘Butter’ and the Ed Sheeran co-write ‘Permission to Dance’ debuted atop the Hot 100, where ‘Butter’ ruled for nine nonconsecutive weeks, some noted how the group’s fans, known as ARMY, organize themselves on social media, using tactics like bulk purchases of physical albums and coordinated digital buying to influence chart performance.”
“Both HYBE and BTS reject accusations that chart manipulation accounts for the group’s success. BTS’ members say that they accept that their fame will peak and, at some point, evaporate — after all, BTS has already outlasted the industry-standard seven-year life span of a K-pop group. In the meantime, though, their runaway success has caused a reckoning in the industry. And whether BTS’ mobilization of fandom on a global scale can be sustained — and possibly be replicated for other acts — will not only decide the future of BTS and HYBE, but also define their legacy,” the article added.
Billboard accused BTS ARMYs of manipulating the charts.
“But just how much they’ll do has recently come into question. Through above-board means, ARMY has long exploited loopholes in music chart rules (including those of Billboard) to propel BTS singles’ performance,” the article added.
It quoted fans of Olivia Rodrigo and Dua Lipa, stating, “Rodrigo’s fans claimed that it wasn’t a coincidence. @scrappyseal, noting the reversal, tweeted that BTS had ‘0 GP [general public] support. A real smash is sustained by the GP support.’ Another fan of both Rodrigo and Lipa’s, @lipaanostalgia, described BTS as having ‘fraudulent ways’ and its fans as ‘involved in chart manipulation’ and ‘mass buying.’”
Billboard asked RM about the chart manipulation by ARMYs.
“It’s a fair question,” RM told Billboard. “But if there is a conversation inside Billboard about what being No. 1 should represent, then it’s up to them to change the rules and make streaming weigh more on the ranking. Slamming us or our fans for getting to No. 1 with physical sales and downloads, I don’t know if that’s right … It just feels like we’re easy targets because we’re a boy band, a K-pop act, and we have this high fan loyalty.”
Here are some of the comments by BTS ARMYs to the Billboard article:
“BTS is not your circus, ARMY is not your entertainment, we are for and for the boys, not for you, your interview so yellow is rubbish, mediocre questions to a band larger than its entire market, it is something simply humiliating, their acting it is the proof that all his means,” one wrote.
Another commented, “What kind of music publication invites one of OBJECTIVELY the biggest acts in the world to an interview, and doesn’t even ask about their songwriting/producing process? Rather, they took up space citing tweets from random fan accounts. The lack of credibility and professionalism.”
“As an Asian American, this article is disheartening. As our nation struggles with racism – lately, with attacks on Asians – this article is just another example of such attacks. The tone and undertones of this article reek of cultural bias and feel accusatory,” one posted.
“I have read a lot of Billboard interviews with artists over the years and have never seen this kind of treatment towards a band of the BTS caliber. These guys have conquered the world but apparently their ethnicity is a more relevant factor when being treated in this way,” another commented.