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Abstract

This research outlines the motivations behind the fan-lead marketing and promotional endeavours undertaken by musical group BTS’s fan community, also known as ARMY. In highlighting the reciprocity in intimacy between the group and their fans, I argue that ARMY’s desire to elevate BTS is embedded within structures of affect, despite the financial nature of the benefits the group and their company may reap. These fan-lead initiatives represent efforts towards a common goal, where success, whether it comes in the form of money or not, is a gift of gratitude and a show of mutual understanding from fans to BTS. Based on data from 22 interviews with fans, this research explores the motivations behind fan-lead marketing by looking at the affective properties of music consumption, the parasocial relationship, fan community dynamics, and the purchase of intimacy. Within these contexts, the promotion surrounding BTS’s music, as organized by the fans, mimics profit-oriented behaviours but is ultimately a gesture towards the exchange of intimacy between fans and artist.

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