Nearly a third of global K-pop CD sales come from HYBE labels

Boy band Enhypen is the latest to join the list of million sellers this year, with their EP “Manifesto: Day 1” released on July 4. [BELIFT LAB]

When it comes to K-pop CDs, HYBE labels accounted for almost a third of all sales in the first half of 2022.

According to Circle Chart, formerly known as Gaon Chart, HYBE Labels sold over 10.6 million CDs from January to June. The total number of K-pop CDs sold worldwide during the same period was 35.48 million copies.

Artists releasing albums through HYBE Labels include acts under K-pop agency HYBE and its subsidiaries, including BigHit Music, Belift Lab, Source Music, Pledis Entertainment, and KOZ Entertainment.

BigHit Music’s K-pop phenom BTS has sold the most albums so far this year, thanks to the boy band’s latest anthology album “Proof,” which dropped last month. BTS sold over 4.26 million CD copies in the first half of 2022, with “Proof” accounting for 2.59 million of them.

Promotional image for BTS "Evidence" (2022) [BIGHIT MUSIC]

Promotional image for BTS’s “Proof” (2022) [BIGHIT MUSIC]

Although BTS has had relatively disappointing results in digital downloads and streaming – none of the new “Proof” tracks made it to the top 10 of the Circle Chart for June – the boy group still seems to remain unrivaled in the K-scene. pop in terms of physical album sales.

Pledis Entertainment’s boy group Seventeen took the No. 2 spot with their fourth full-length album “Face the Sun,” which dropped in May. The album sold over 2.37 million copies, setting a new high for the boy band seven years after its debut.

Promotional image for Seventeen's

Promotional image for Seventeen’s “Face the Sun” (2022) [PLEDIS ENTERTAINMENT]

BigHit Music’s Tomorrow X Together and Belift Lab’s Enhypen also produced millions of sellers this year: “Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child” from the former in May and “Manifesto: Day 1” from the latter on July 4. Talking girl group The Sserafim, who debuted under Source Music in May, have sold over 415,000 copies of their debut EP “Fearless” – an impressive record for a debut act.

Overall, K-pop CD sales were up 36.7% from the first half of 2021, which saw 25.96 million copies sold. Other million-selling albums so far this year that aren’t from HYBE labels include boy band NCT Dream’s “Glitch Mode” and Lim Young-woong’s “Im Hero.”

Promotional image for NCT DREAM's

Promotional image for NCT DREAM’s “Glitch Mode” (2022) [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

The aespa girl group’s second EP “Girls”, released on Friday, is also expected to become a million sellers, as pre-orders for the EP have already topped 1.6 million copies. If so, it will be the second girl group release to join K-pop’s million-seller list, following Blackpink’s ‘The Album’ (2020), which sold 1.3. million copies, and the very first to exceed this milestone. within the first week of its release.

The record is particularly notable for a K-pop girl group, which tends to see much weaker CD sales compared to male K-pop acts and is instead known to have a stronger edge in streaming and music. digital downloads.

Promotional image for aespa "Girls" (2022) [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

Promotional image for aespa’s “Girls” (2022) [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

Industry analysts suspect that the increase in the number of millions of sellers is a key factor in the growth of the K-pop CD sales market. Although some claim that K-pop will soon face a slump as BTS halted group activities in order to pursue solo activities, analysts say the market will mostly maintain its size regardless of the group breakup. of BTS, as more K-pop groups will continue. to see their albums sell over a million copies of their releases. For example, Seventeen’s aforementioned album “Face the Sun” was the band’s sixth consecutive million seller, suggesting a stable future.

“The K-pop market in 2022 is more of a pyramid structure than relying on a few artists,” said Kim Jin-woo, chief researcher at Circle Chart. “Even if there is a bit of a vacuum caused by some artists at the top of the pyramid, the whole market is unlikely to suddenly collapse.

BY PARK KUN, HALEY YANG [[email protected]]

Jack L. Goldstein