The Casual K-Pop Multi

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The Casual K-Pop Multi
Top 5 Artists from the May 31st, 2023 episode of Show Champion, featuring Dreamcatcher, aespa, (G)-IDLE, ENHYPEN, and LE SSERAFIM. Source: ALL THE K-POP

For good or for ill, the K-Pop industry is one that is driven by consumption, and tons of it. Whether it’s from constantly streaming songs, buying multiple copies of albums, picking up all the merchandise, attending all the live performances you can, and more, K-Pop fans are encouraged in many ways to provide the kind of support to their favorite artists that ensure consistent cashflow, stability, and continual music releases.

That consumption becomes exponential when you consider being a “multi” or fan of a bunch of different groups instead of just one. While this does ensure that, were you into enough groups or artists that you would probably always have something to watch or listen to, it can really hit you hard, whether in the pocketbook or simply in the rat race to keep up with the latest and greatest.

In the K-Pop Discord servers that I frequent, I see the dilemma of the K-Pop multi play out many times over the course of a year. Do they put out all their cash towards their favorite ult group, only to not have enough to support their second favorite when they have content? Is the reverse the case, where saving time and money for an ult who hasn’t announced their next release might be railroaded by a new group or artist that catches someone’s eye? What about for tours, concerts, or events? Is a multiple-artist festival worth it to ensure you see a bunch of groups you’ve been following? The list goes on.

And money aside, this doesn’t even count the sometimes emotional investment that multis put towards many different groups, some of which may fail while others succeed, or those times where they’d inevitably run into interactions with other fans and fandoms that might, at any point, turn sour.

To me, it’s just exhausting, which is why my solution is simply to be a casual K-Pop multi.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I don’t have an ult group or one that I follow and support a lot. In my case, it’s Dreamcatcher, the seven-member girl group with the underdog story, non-traditional concept and music, and one that I have constant respect for because of that, and more. But other groups that I follow don’t receive the same kind of dedication - not because I don’t think they’re as good as Dreamcatcher, mind you, but simply for the fact that I’d probably go bananas trying to apply the same kind of consumption to more than one group.

(G)-IDLE, who I’d call my third favorite group, is a perfect example of this. The group drew my interest in part because one of its members, Yuqi, is both talented and hilarious in equal measure, and then one of my college friends met both Miyeon and Soyeon during her work on MOBA League of Legends’ “K/DA” skin line and that sealed the deal for me. Their music is constantly enjoyable to me.

Recently, they’d done an album with 88rising with their first digital English single, “I DO”. But I didn’t find out about this release until perhaps 2 months after it came out. In fact, I kind of only really checked in for releases for the group here and there, and continue to do so to this day. By doing this, I both A)saved a bunch of time since they are pretty prolific content creators and busy with individual endeavors and B)saved a ton of pain during the loss of one of their members due to a bullying controversy. Were I to have put in the same kind of dedication into IDLE that I do into Dreamcatcher, I feel like it would have been a pretty hard time for me, both from a wallet and a stress standpoint.

And of course the other bonus to being a casual multi is that when I do have time to catch up with a group that I don’t follow that closely, I have plenty of content to pick up on, which I can invest in at my leisure. No waiting for something to appear because I’ve watched pretty much every performance, variety appearance, and special clip from all my groups - I just pick and choose, and take it from there. I did this when I watched ITZY’s First Take live performance appearance, or when I watched pretty much all the parts of their recent variety show rather than having to wait. The content is endless.

In the end, though, the main driver for me is, simply, less stress and worry. Oftentimes in K-Pop fandoms, people are pressured or feel obligated to support their faves (all of them) by spending/watching/consuming content, when that doesn’t always have to be the case. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d rather consume content on my own time and at my own pace. There will always be hardcore fans who are dedicated enough to a single group to be able to make up the difference of a casual like myself who only occasionally follows or sees something from another group or artist. K-Pop interest can and should be something from which you get enjoyment, not the opposite - but I still feel like casual multi fans aren’t as prevalent as K-Pop multi-stans who trying to deal with all the stuff that the industry puts out pretty much every day. It may be the industry’s intended behavior - but it doesn’t mean it has to be ours.

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