With BTS’s 2015 BTS LIVE TRILOGY in USA ‘Episode II. The Red Bullet’ concert tour fast approaching, it seems only right that we get to know the people behind this epic showdown. SubKulture Entertainment is made up of a medley mix of experienced industry professionals, who have worked on production, marketing, and technical aspects of K-pop in America since 2009. They have individually and collectively played crucial roles in the US tours of Big Bang, 2NE1 and 2PM. Most recently, their indispensable efforts helped bring us BTS’s reality show “BTS: American Hustle Life.”
Right out the gate for their first act, SubKulture is going big with BTS, and giving the fans what they want. So, here’s a chance to get to know them a little bit better in our latest “Meet The Promoters” series. Check out our Q&A with SubKulture, below.
Each member of your team has been involved in K-pop media events (BAP Live On Earth, BTS American Hustle Life, etc). How did you all come together to form SubKulture? And, can you tell us about your name?
SubKulture Entertainment was formed by a group of people who came from diverse backgrounds, but with the same vision: to elevate the K-pop concert experience for all fans, and to further help spread the Hallyu wave into mainstream America. We all met while working in the K-Pop concert field, and after working together on a variety of projects for several years, we decided that we could do a better job of promoting concerts and marketing to the growing base of non-Korean fans. Thus, SubKulture Entertainment came into existence.
About our company name: our Marketing Director wanted to come up with a name that reflected the state of K-Pop in America. While there are countless millions of music lovers in America, only a select few are privy to the lingo, fashions, and culture of K-pop. K-pop fans in America have developed a distinct and unique subculture amongst music fans. Hence, SubKulture Entertainment was born — The “K” is for K-Pop, of course.
Given your combined expertise, what would you say makes your brand different, and unique to SubKulture?
SubKulture Entertainment is unique in that we are a turnkey promoting/production team. Because of the technical production background of several of our team members, we are capable of running an entire concert tour from A-Z, without having to outsource key staff positions. Our team consists of a mixture of 1st and 2nd generation Korean-Americans, so we are able to communicate effectively with the entertainment companies in Korea, while still having the advantage of understanding the American fan base.
As a result, because our staff is more knowledgeable and experienced, communication turnaround is much quicker, and productions run much smoother. We feel that our long-standing working relationship makes our capabilities unparalleled in this market.
Your team is very active on social media. How have you seen social media change production/promotion of K-pop events in the past five years? Ten years? Does having that much access to fans affect costs, production expectations, etc?
Based on our observations over the past several years, social media has been one of the most important factors in helping to spread K-pop to a new audience. When we see Non-Korean K-pop fans singing along to their favorite songs at K-Pop concerts, or writing fan signs in Korean, we know that social media has allowed these Non-Korean fans to learn the various facets of K-pop culture. Furthermore, social media allows fans to meet and socialize with other K-Pop fans from around the world, that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet in a real-life setting.
We feel that being active on social media will allow us to understand what the fans want, from the fan’s point-of-view. And we hope this feedback will help us in the future to provide content that will satisfy fans and artists alike. We also hope that fan feedback will ultimately help us to venture into parts of America that remain previously untouched by K-Pop artists.
As mentioned before, you were all part of BTS American Hustle Life. Was this past relationship why you chose to work with them this time around? In what other ways has your relationship with them evolved?
While working with BTS for “BTS: American Hustle Life”, we noticed how dedicated they were to their music, and we saw the overwhelming fan response during the “Show & Prove” concert. These factors certainly made it easier to want to work with BTS and BigHit Entertainment. However, by no means was this our own decision to make — it was a combination of perfect timing, our individual reputations within the industry, our previous relationship with the other parties involved with this tour, and lots of luck, that made TRB in USA possible for us.
As far as SubKulture Entertainment’s relationship with BTS and BigHit: we expect our relationship will continue to progress and evolve: we hope that TRB in USA will bring us closer together, and that we can continue to work together on future US-based projects, for many years to come.
Aside from BTS, what other groups (K-pop or not) do you want to work with? Any dream productions? And, what kind of projects do you see yourself doing in the future?
As promoters, we want to work with artists that the fans themselves want to see — by utilizing social media to communicate with fans, we hope to achieve that goal.
Each of our team members has a different idea of their dream tour: one of us wants a “throwback” K-pop concert, with classic K-Pop artists that were popular in the 1990’s. One of our team members would like to have a winter tour to celebrate the holidays. I’d love to do a college town tour, with a crew of K-Hip Hop artists.
We don’t know what the future holds for us – but we do know that we’d like to do shows that reach out to new fans. While there are multitudes of K-Pop fans all across America, there are many, many more who don’t even know what K-Pop is. Our goal is to reach those people, and show them all the joy that K-Pop has to offer.
There are VIP+, VIP, and other levels of tickets available for #TRBUSA. What did you take into consideration for the ticket sales model?
As far as ticket scaling and the benefits associated with each price tier: the result was a combination of market research, fan feedback, and our own experience working K-Pop concerts for the past several years. We know and understand that K-Pop concerts can be expensive, even cost-prohibitive, to many fans — however, there are numerous factors involved when deciding to hold a concert in America, for a Korea-based artist. The ticket pricing takes into consideration all those factors — we hope that fans will understand, and we know that they will have a great time at TRB in USA.
Although it’s changing, it seems recently that all the groups that visit the US go to LA and New York, with Dallas and Chicago being new stops. What went into the decisions of where to host your shows?
When we started working K-Pop concerts in 2009, the vast majority of the fan base was Korean-American – hence, promoters were reluctant to hold concerts in metropolitan areas without a sizable Korean-American population. However, in the past 5 years, there has been a distinct and dramatic shift in the fan base toward Non-Korean fans, and the new destinations reflect that demographic shift.
Thus, fan feedback is crucial insofar as promoters staging concerts in new cities – wherever you live, please let us know how much you love K-Pop. As fans, the more noise you make, the greater the chances will be, of your favorite K-Pop artists ultimately coming to your hometown.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
We at SubKulture Entertainment always welcome feedback from fans — we welcome even constructive criticism, because we believe that it’ll help us become better promoters. However, we ask that all feedback be cordial, courteous, and professional. We know that fans can get very upset or frustrated, but since we always try our best to be transparent, to communicate efficiently, effectively, and in a timely manner, we ask that fans do likewise.
Thanks again for all your support, and we hope to see you all in July at TRB in USA, or at any of our future shows!
Special thank you to SubKulture’s CEO, Derek, for answering my questions! Show your support for them by following their Facebook and Twitter. Also, like GoodMoMusic on Facebook or subscribe to our website for our “Countdown to a BTS Summer” series and more kpop news!