This year especially, BTS has been topping the charts and making history. “Butter” officially became the song of the summer as it also became the longest-leading hit of 2021. It was No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 chart for 9 weeks until recently, and even now, it has remained in the top 10 for 13 consecutive weeks.
Yet, anytime BTS receives any success, particularly on the charts, people are quick to point fingers and accuse the group and its fandom of “exploiting loopholes” with the intention “to propel BTS singles’ performance.” They believe that part of the reason behind the success of “Butter” is due to having multiple versions, including its remixes and fans’ purchases of them.
It seems that people who are not happy with BTS’s success wish that music charts were based solely on streaming and airplay. Though BTS’s songs kill it in those categories, too, it has been said that they “manipulated the charts” due to the fandom’s purchasing of songs, referring to it as “mass buying” and “fraudulent ways.” Is it seriously being considered a crime now to support an artist in purchasing their songs? We were always told not to pirate and illegally download an artist’s works, and now we are discouraged from purchasing.
Some find it suspicious that there are BTS fans that offer to reimburse other fans’ purchases of singles as they wonder where the funds are sourced. Billboard explained that they “would not allow sales funded by an act or its label/management to count toward chart performance.” Billboard directly asked the president of Big Hit Music, Shin Young Jae, if “HYBE itself organizes fans in any chart manipulation.” He responded with a chuckle as he imagined how “nice” it would be if they truly could play a part in charting.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually had the ability to mastermind such a thing? I get that there are market developments [related to BTS] that are head-scratchers for some people. But I don’t believe the U.S. market is one that can be handily topped by downloads alone. We think the songs’ impact was shown in many ways, and we are proud of that achievement.
— Big Hit Music President Shin Young Jae
Billboard themselves, in their own interview with BTS, brought up this topic. Despite the offensive allegations that accuse ARMY of “chart manipulation,” BTS’s leader RM handled the question with the utmost class. He explained that if they are so concerned about song sales, then Billboard has the power to change their own rules to have one, such as streaming or airplay, “weigh more on ranking.”
It’s a fair question. 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.
RM also defended not only his group like the great leader he is but also ARMY. While BTS might “got ARMY right behind” them as RM raps in “Butter,” it seems like ARMY has BTS right behind them too!
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.
What is evident here is that the fandom is truly loyal, and BTS themselves are too, so, of course, we want to support one another naturally. There’s nothing wrong with that.