If you are my age and watched the Billboard Music Awards this past Sunday, you were probably a little surprised by “Best Social Artist” BTS (also known as “Bangtan Sonyeondan” or “Bangtan Boys”). Sure, you may have heard of the Korean boy band (heck, you’re a pretty hip dad with your finger on the pulse, sort of), but what was surprising was the sheer pandemonium from the crowd. This was the stuff Elvis or the Beatles were made of (in terms of audience reaction only), maybe even New Kids on the Block when they first hit the scene. I would not be surprised if at least one shrieking fans fainted, or came close to fainting. Seeing this phenomenon, I couldn’t help but think: I hope these guys have a legacy plan.
“A legacy plan,” you ask, “why ever would a bunch of young twenty-something pop stars who are on top of the world need a legacy plan?” Here are five good reasons:
Too Many Opportunities. When you are an international pop success, opportunities are coming at you faster that you can imagine. The world wants to take you everywhere. The question is, where do you want to go? Instead of being pulled in a million different directions and fielding opportunities as they arise, a legacy plan gives you direction and allows you to decide in advance what opportunities you are looking for. This simplifies the vetting process when it comes to the abundance of endorsement, appearance, merchandising and other opportunities that come your way. More importantly, a legacy plan empowers you as an artist to take control of your career and to proactively seek the opportunities that will help build the legacy you want to achieve.
You Need To Know Your Rights. BTS, like other bands, is an organization. Each individual band member has certain rights and responsibilities when it comes to the band. How BTS’s intellectual property—i.e., it’s brand, songs, sound recordings, etc.—is owned is critical to legacy planning. As an individual band member, you may have little or no control over the band’s intellectual property. You may even just be a paid employee. Knowing your rights in advance is vital to planning for your own future success. For example, whether or not you can continue to leverage your success in BTS after the group ends, or you leave (or are fired), will have a significant impact on the type of opportunities you will have in the future. BTS is invariably a significant part of your legacy, so understanding your rights and ability to integrate BTS into your own legacy plan is key.
Eventually, It Is Going To End. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (and for stating the obvious), but “boy bands” do not last forever. As an individual member of BTS, you need to be planning for the reality that you will have to do something else at some point, whether that is as a solo artist, member of different band, or something completely outside the realm of music. The point is to start thinking about and planning those next steps now. The last thing you want to happen is for BTS to end and for you to have no plan whatsoever. Having a plan to immediately execute on while still relevant is absolutely necessary to ensure the success of that plan. More importantly, you should be making strategic moves now in order have all of your ducks in a row for that next phase.
BTS Is Only Part Of Your Legacy, It Is Not The Whole. I know this is hard to believe, but each member of BTS is much more than BTS. You need to adopt the mentality that your legacy is larger than any one brand associated with your legacy. BTS is just that—a brand. While it may be everything you are doing now, you need to be thinking bigger in terms of your own human potential. Luckily, you already have a large audience with which to share all of your potential. We all want to see what else you are going to do, so put a plan together and do not let us down.
Money Matters. BTS is currently conquering the globe, an undoubtedly making a tremendous amount of money doing so. In terms of legacy planning, money equals opportunity. Young artists like BTS need to understand that their early and sudden success could create a lifetime of financial stability. In other words, they will never have to worry about money again. That financial freedom will enable them to pursue whatever other interests they may have without worrying about the economic success those other endeavors make. They can create for creation’s sake. Also, the money earned now could be used to self-fund other ventures. However, all of this takes a plan. After all, you do not know how much money you need to save unless you first know what you are saving for.
More than anything else, a legacy plan is about taking control of your destiny. It declares your power to write your own story, and serves as a blueprint for your success. Without question, BTS is surrounded by more handlers and professionals than they know what to do with (their twenty-something heads are probably spinning). Now, more than ever, BTS needs to create the framework within which all of those individuals exist, to define each of their roles, and to provide clear direction for where BTS and its members are going. What BTS needs now more than ever is a legacy plan.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues.