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How much a BTS fan really spends in a year: We ask some fans about their annual expenditure on the K-pop sensation

How much a BTS fan really spends in a year: We ask some fans about their annual expenditure on the K-pop sensation

The ARMY life

Text: Azrin Tan


Whether you enjoyed the real deal of 2020's Spotify Wrapped last December or somehow preferred The Pudding's A.I bot to test just How Bad Is Your Spotify? I can assure you that I, editorial intern at Buro. Singapore, absolutely revelled in my k-pop-aficionado-bad status as accredited from the latter, to an abnormal extent. After all, it's only been about a little more than a decade since I embarked on my journey with the music genre, and a good half of that was spent stanning a group I'd personally like to think of as the most influential music sensation of today: BTS.

How much a BTS fan really spends in a year: We ask some fans about their annual expenditure on the K-pop sensation (фото 1)

Yes, the life of a BTS fan aka an ARMY, is indeed an emotionally and mentally intense one; we're pretty much always running our minds fluttering around the bird app in our free time, trying our best to keep up with updates on the members — be it a new advertisement they filmed or discovering an event they might be attending. But that's not all. With the lifestyle, comes the inevitable desire to whip out our wallets and swipe our cards away; indeed, the ARMY life proves to be akin to an endless black hole. But who's to blame when the consumables available can range from official merchandise to Prada pieces a member was seen wearing once in a magazine shoot, to the most important of them all: their concerts. Curious as to how much a BTS fan truly spends in a year? We ask various BTS fans (including myself) to crack down on their BTS-dedicated expenditure for us. Let's get started, shall we?

Azrin, 23

When did you first become a BTS fan?

2015, I was in my second year of JC! I was recommended their songs on Spotify and I really liked 'I NEED U' — their breakout song of that year.

Do you spend on the fangirl/boy life? Have your spending habits on BTS changed since then?

Definitely. I was a student back then with not much of an income, so I couldn't really spend as much as I'm able to now. As for how good my increased allowed expenditure on them is for me...

If you do spend, what do you usually spend on?

This might be cheesy but I think the one thing I never really stinged on was their music. Apple Music was a thing by then, and I'd opt to buy their digital singles and/or albums even though I could listen to their music for free on Spotify. But with Spotify it didn't really feel like I was supporting them, nor their music. The first physical album I purchased was their WINGS album from 2016, and subsequently I would make purchases such as photocards or random high-quality posters of them.

In the past two years however, I've started spending a lot on their BT21 line; cute LINE characters to represent each of the members. The plushies are really soft and cute, and at this point, my bed is beginning to overflow a little.

And of course, concerts. I went for two concerts in 2019 — one in Singapore, and one in South Korea. And truth be told? If they had a concert in Singapore every year, I'd high-key spend the bulk of my BTS-dedicated expenditure on the chance to see and hear them perform live. Nothing beats that.

Why are you willing to spend on them?

It brings me...a great deal of joy. And a surprising amount of comfort. I find them so precious, not just for their meaningful music but for their earnest and unrelenting relationship with us fans. So I guess at the end of the day, I don't really need a reason to spend on them, do I? I want to continue supporting them for as long as they're around, and for what it's worth, they're more than a worthwhile investment into my continued happiness.

So, how much did you spend on BTS in 2020?

For 2020 alone, I think the total estimated amount came up to about $750? Well...yeah.

Deanna, 23

When did you first become a BTS fan?

I first became an ARMY at 15! It was during O levels and their lyrics was a source of comfort and guidance for me, and their music helped motivate me to study by keeping me company.

Do you spend on the fangirl/boy life? Have your spending habits on BTS changed since then?

My spending habits have definitely changed. I used to be pretty big on buying fanmade goods as they looked nicer. Now, I spend more on official goods than unofficial ones, as they're more accessible. Unfortunately, I also recognize that official goods are really expensive, so I tend to not spend on them as much, unless I really think they make me happy.

If you do spend, what do you usually spend on?

When I first started, I spent on fanmade goods like fansite photobooks. When I went to Korea, I bought my first BTS album! From then on, I started buying BTS albums, firstly through Carousell for secondhand ones, and then when I finally started earning enough money, I started buying official ones and even started pre-ordering. I also bought concert tickets when I could, which meant that I went to like 2 concerts in 1 year! Going to concerts also meant that I would buy concert goods to resell back at home, as they had not stocked them up for the international market back then. Recently, I have also started thinking of buying magazines. I think they can be pretty prized possessions as they have limited prints.

Why do you spend on BTS?

It's the same as "why do you spend on clothes, games, toys, electronic goods (the latest iPhone, for example), etc." They give me happiness, and it makes me happy to have these items. Sure, it may be shortlived and eventually I may feel like selling them, but that doesn't discount the happiness I get from buying them.

So, how much did you spend on BTS in 2020?

On official goods alone I spent around USD$400 for the past 8 months. This is kinda an underestimate since this is just through the official store. I have bought official goods through other people to share shipping as well so it could be way more. Additionally, I didn't visit as many BTS fan cafes in 2020 compared to previous years, and I did not buy as many fanmade goods recently.

Lynn, 20

When did you first become a BTS fan?

When I was 17!

Do you spend on the fangirl/boy life? Have your spending habits on BTS changed since then?

Yes! I never really bought merch in the past, but I've been spending more on them since 2019.

If you do spend, what do you usually spend on?

Mostly albums!

Why do you spend on BTS?

I usually buy their albums so that I'll have something tangible to remind me of them — especially in the future when I want to look back and reminisce — because they've really helped me get through stressful times in school. It's a plus that their albums are very pretty and the boys are so cute in the photobooks and photocards!

So, how much did you spend on BTS in 2020?

$200++.

Amelia, 53

When did you first become a BTS fan?

In 2019, their Boy with Luv (ft. Halsey) era! I was 52.

Do you spend on the fangirl/boy life? If you do spend, what do you usually spend on?

Yes, I usually spend on albums, official merchandise, their collaboration products with Samsung (Samsung Galaxy + Galaxy Buds), concerts and the ARMY membership!

Why do you spend on BTS?

I was just impressed with their music overall, especially the message that they convey through their music. So naturally, I'd want to support BTS' hard work and their talent for a long time coming. Also, their merch is cute!

So, how much did you spend on BTS in 2020?

A total estimate of $1000.

Sha, 24

When did you first become a BTS fan?

24! I started in September 2020.

Do you spend on the fangirl/boy life? If you do spend, what do you usually spend on?

Yes! I started spending on merch for anime last year. I wouldn't specifically say my spending has increased, but I have found greater variety in what I spend on (official merch, fan art, BTS-related classes, Albums, Concert tickets) compared to only select fanart merch for anime. I'd say that BTS has a whole universe available for consumption, hence the diversity.

If you do spend, what do you usually spend on?

It's a range really, but amongst the official merch I'd say: their albums in 2020, their online concerts, BT21, and I've even chipped in to get the Samsung Galaxy Buds for a fellow friend! But I do also spend on unofficial merchandise including plenty of fanart like pins, stickers, washi tape, keyrings and jewellery. Oh, and attending fan cafe events too.

Why do you spend on BTS?

Whether or not it's for myself or for a friend, it makes us feel happy and connected to BTS. As a new stan of BTS, undoubtably a lot of the overwhelming emotions I'm feeling right now as a fan is part of the first rush you get when you're excited about something new.

But I think fangirling or being a part of fandom is a lot deeper than just "being excited". I'm a seasoned fangirl and my appreciation for fandoms are multi-faceted (no matter the fandom). It's the feeling of belonging to something larger than yourself, almost like patriotism (but this one comes with pretty NDP fun packs)!

I also believe that merch are more than just objects. They bring us joy and hold our material memories and emotions, so seeing merch can be both "pretty" or "cute" but they also trigger emotions and a sense of sentiment. Even if it's a placebo effect, it's a strong one that has real world implications of comfort and satisfaction, just like any good retail therapy does.

As an artist myself, paying for merch/fanart is also a way to support another artist, as I recognise that many of these small shops are independent. Overall, it feels like I'm expressing appreciation and togetherness with BTS.

So, how much did you spend on BTS in 2020?

Unofficially: $72.40; officially: $261.60; others: $69. So the total comes up to $403.

Maz, 23

When did you first become a BTS fan?

2016. I was 19.

Do you spend on the fangirl/boy life? Have your spending habits on BTS changed since then?

Yes I've dedicated some savings each month for me to spend on BTS.

If you do spend, what do you usually spend on?

I usually spend on official merch like albums (top priority) and BT21 merch!

Why do you spend on BTS?

I love their music so much and I want to be able to have a record of their physical discography. At the end of the day, I just want to show my support for all the things they do!

So, how much did you spend on BTS in 2020?

Around $600 to $700 is a good estimate!