Transcending boundaries
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Transcending boundaries

Thai LGBTI group 4MIX's Mexico tour shows how music can serve as a soft power tool

Transcending boundaries
Bhurit Kunjara, managing director of Khaosan Entertainment. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

It was a pleasant surprise for the four Thai singers of 4MIX when more than 3,000 fans welcomed them at the mini-concert "4MIX Unix Mexico" in Mexico City. The venue, a stage in front of a mall, was jam-packed. Some fans had prepared signs in both Thai and English to express their appreciation for 4MIX and when the singers performed, and they sang along in Thai.

Bhurit Kunjara, managing director of Khaosan Entertainment who is marketing 4MIX in Latin America, did not expect such overwhelming enthusiasm.

"It was unexpected. We were not prepared for such as big crowd. 4MIX sang only a few songs, but the impact was huge. Mexican fans wrote messages on posters in Thai. The fans enjoyed it even though 4MIX performed a song they had never played before. Mexican news outlets also reported on the event. There were no cultural boundaries. It was true soft power and the power of music marketing," Bhurit said.

4MIX -- Ninja, Macka, Folksong and George -- debuted as an LGBTI group in May last year. Their debut music video, Y U Comeback, on YouTube currently has more than 14 million views.

4MIX meet their Mexican fans. (Photos courtesy of Khaosan Entertainment)

4MIX has a fanbase around the world, including Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Denmark, Germany and Spain. Among international fans, Brazilians constitute the most with 30%, while Mexican fans make up 5%.

Bhurit has been the MD of Khaosan Entertainment for six months. Before that, he was responsible for music marketing and database analysis. Besides 4MIX, Bhurit has been behind the social media success of Potato, a rock band, and Youngohm, a hip-hop singer.

Life spoke to Bhurit about his marketing strategy for 4MIX in Mexico.

How did you come up with the concept of an LGBTI group for 4MIX?

It began with Ninja, who is LGBTI and accepts himself for who he is. The other three members also accepted Ninja with no bias or prejudice. Content on social platforms of 4MIX that relates to identities or equality has been well received by fans. Since fans do not mind the way they are, we decided to develop their fanbase.

How did you select these four members to be part of 4MIX?

In the past, music labels used talent scouts to search for aspiring singers. It was centralised, but I prefer decentralisation. I let the fanbase choose their performers. Hence, we chose young performers who already had followers on social media because whatever these rookies release, the followers will interact with them. Music is only one part of their content. In fact, they are free to be who they want and their followers will support them.

Have 4MIX members undergone strict training like K-pop singers?

I do not want to compare to K-pop training. With my principle, the quartet does not have to do synchronised dancing. I want them to be a simple and down to earth group. If their choreography is too complicated, nobody will want to dance along. The group has gained a fanbase by being themselves.


4MIX fans in Mexico City. 

Can you tell us about your advertising strategy?

Advertising is important for promoting the group because we must advertise to the right audience. How did we find out who the target audience was? We collected data from viewers who watched content related to 4MIX. Then, we figured out who the other viewers were who displayed similar behaviours and advertised to them. When I had to choose between spending my budget on advertising to Thai or Latin American audiences, I decided to target the latter. I hoped that positive feedback from Latin Americans would have a ripple effect on Thai audiences.

Why did you choose the song Y U Comeback for 4MIX's debut?

I wanted a song that has both strength and gentleness, so it is not too masculine or feminine. When I saw Lisa from Blackpink dance to the viral luktung song Poo Neep E Pee, I believed its success was the result of the singer and not the song. The video of Y U Comeback only had a few hundred views a few hours after its release, however, it soon gained thousands of views overnight. Currently, it has 14 million views and this will likely increase. This means a song that is not famous in Thailand can be popular in other countries. We need to find the right audience and 4MIX has already found theirs.

How did you come up with the project '4MIX Unix Mexico'?

After I came across data of a Latin American fanbase, I spoke with officials at the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We contacted many embassies and the ambassador of Thailand to Mexico responded to our project. The project planned to have the 4MIX members be Thai cultural ambassadors. We planned to host informal events where 4MIX would be on the judging panel at a Thai singing contest and perform gigs in a mall. After we posted the project on social media, 1,947 fans in Mexico contacted us about how they wanted to take part in the project. I was surprised. I believed there were probably 5,000 fans at '4MIX Unix Mexico'.

What does this first step of success mean to you?

I did not expect that the number of Mexican fans that I saw as data could actually convert to physical real fans. I think it is possible to hold a large-scale concert. The project proved there are no cultural and language boundaries. People from different sides of the world can bond. I hope that executives at state agencies see how music marketing works. T-pop is not only entertainment but it can help strengthen the reputation of the country.

What is 4MIX's next approach for Latin America?

4MIX recently released a Spanish version of the song Roller Coaster to express their appreciation to fans. We have also co-ordinated with the Thai embassy and consulates in Brazil for an event in March.

What do you think about the future of T-pop?

What is the definition of T-pop? For me, T-pop is a brand that has diverse DNA and many music labels and songs. In the future, if we want T-pop to go further, we should consider music to be more than just music. I look at music as a tool to connect people of other languages and cultures. We should consider music as a tool and use it to expand business opportunities.

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