Korea's album sales continue to rise despite streaming popularity
Although online streaming has become the main form of listening to music, Korea’s album sales increased by 34.25 percent during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.
Hanteo Global, which runs Korea’s Hanteo Chart, released a report titled “Hanteo Global K-pop Report” on Friday, which shows that 19,405,514 copies of albums were sold in Korea during the first half of this year. That is 4,950,652 more than the amount sold during the first half of 2020.
Album sales have been on the decline throughout the world in general due to the rise of online music streaming platforms, but Korea's album sales have been consistently on the rise since 2016.
"This trend is expected to last for a while," said Kim Jin-woo, head researcher at Gaon Chart.
According to Kim, the leading contributor to this year’s album sales was boy band NCT Dream. The band's first full-length album “Hot Sauce,” released on May 10, sold over 2 million copies, which is 2.8 times the band’s entire album sales last year.
Although boy band BTS did not release any albums during the first half of this year, its EP “BE” which was released in November 2020 sold approximately 960,000 copies between January and May of this year, ranking third place for this year’s album sales so far.
New albums by BTS, such as its upcoming EP “Butter” set to drop on July 9, are expected to raise the total amount of album sales in Korea this year.
First-week sales, which indicate the loyalty of an artist’s fan base, also rose by 16.23 percent this year. So far this year, boy bands Seventeen, NCT Dream, EXO and Tomorrow X Together and singer Baekhyun of EXO sold over 500,000 copies within the first week of an album's release. Only BTS, Seventeen and Baekhyun accomplished that feat last year.
“First-week sales made up 73 percent of album sales in Korea from 2020 until the first half of 2021,” said Hanteo Global. “We can say that the size and loyalty of K-pop fandoms have increased.”
Hanteo Global also selected “50 artists that lit up K-pop in the first half of 2021,” which put NCT Dream at No. 1, followed by BTS, Baekhyun, Exo, Seventeen, singer IU, Rosé of girl group Blackpink, Tomorrow X Together, Blackpink and Twice.
BY HALEY YANG [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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