TABITHA THEARD WRITES — Instagram and twitter have helped artists connect to fans around the world. This is one way that Rina Sawayama (pictured) and K-pop band BTS—aka Beyond the Scene, Bangtan Sonyeondan (Bulletproof Boy Scouts)—have gained popularity worldwide.
As John Paul Titlo wrote in his article How Instagram Became the Music Industry’s Secret Weapon, many artists now admit to having Instagram accounts for both their music and personal PR. In fact, according to a recent Nielson Music study, Insta users listen to more music each week than the general population and are twice as likely to pay for streaming services. Thus, Insta provides a vast communications network for both music lovers and artists like Rina Sawayama.
Rina Sawayama is a Japanese singer-songwriter and former Nylon Japan model. Born in Japan, she was five years old when her family moved to London. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, she focused full-time on music and modeling. In an interview with Owen Myers from Fader, she talked about using her music to broadcast themes about identity, Eurocentric beauty standards and anxiety triggered by social media.
One of the most popular songs on her latest album, Rina, is “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome,” which has lyrics about the way in which socially anxious people use—or misuse—instagram in order to appear to be extroverts. She contends, in fact, that people would rather communicate digitally than talk to someone at a party. Paradoxically, however, it is precisely this obsession with Instagram that has helped propel her career and exposed audiences worldwide to East Asian artists, activists and cultures.
Meanwhile, Beyond the Scene has used twitter to expand its international fan base. After a rough start Big Time Entertainment, the boy band’s management group, has, according to CNBC, increased its competitive edge alongside managing agencies such as JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment and SM Entertainment—major K-pop agencies that have been around more than 20 years. Big Time has especially has benefited from live-stream services.
Fans’ love for the band extends beyond geographical and linguistic barriers. This self-made, informal group of international adorers, who call themselves the ARMY, transcribe and translate the group’s Korean lyrics—which is good for East Asia, good for global communications, and of course good for Beyond the Scene.x