Geum Yi

Old album sales increase on growing K-pop fandom

August 23, 2021

 K-pop album sales have grown further as new fans of the genre have snatched up old albums in addition to new ones, industry sources said Monday.

K-pop powerhouse SM Entertainment sold 1.64 million copies of old albums by artists, including NCT and EXO, in the second quarter, a large number compared with 4.82 million copies of new albums released this year.

This photo, provided by SM Entertainment, shows NCT Dream. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This photo, provided by Big Hit Music, shows BTS. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This photo, provided by SM Entertainment, shows NCT Dream. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In total, the company sold 93.1 billion won (US$79.4 million) in albums and digital music in the second quarter, up 76 percent from the same period last year.

Choi Min-ha, an analyst with Samsung Securities, attributed the growth to a widening K-pop fan base.

“As artists gain more recognition, there has been a sharp increase in new fans, driving sales of not just new albums but also old ones,” Choi said in a recent report.

Boy band NCT, which has experienced a surge in popularity, has been among the biggest contributors to this trend, accounting for 42 percent of all old album sales.

NCT Dream, a subunit of NCT, earned double million-seller status with its debut studio album “Hot Sauce,” which dropped in May, and million-seller status with its repackaged version.

In addition to the two, the group’s three older albums — “We Boom” (2019), “The First” (2017) and “We Go Up” (2018) — placed in the top 100 on local music tracker Gaon’s charts in the first half of this year.

K-pop sensation BTS took 15 spots on the charts run by the Korea Music Content Association in the same period, with newer releases such as “Love Yourself” (2017-2018) and “Map of the Soul” (2019-2020) as well as older ones, such as the boy band’s 2013 debut single “2 COOL 4 SKOOL.”

Boy band Seventeen and K-pop queen BLACKPINK also made entries with albums released in 2019.

“We’re seeing a ‘backward spillover’ as people who previously didn’t know these artists are now looking up their past music,” Kim Jin-woo, a senior analyst for Gaon, said.

Overseas sales have been a major boost for K-pop album sales, according to Gaon data.

In 2019, 10 million of the total 26 million copies sold were bought overseas. Last year, nearly 26 million of a total 43 million copies were sold abroad, with overseas sales overtaking domestic sales.

And in the first half of this year, more than 16 million of a total 30 million copies were sold abroad, according to Gaon.