Joy and Woe for Korean Music Industry in 2008

With the return of many big-name singers and the high popularity enjoyed by idol singers, the slump of the Korean music industry has been enjoying a revival. But if you analyse closely, a situation is developing where there is a great disparity in album sales between popular singers and rookie singers which has left many people in the Korean music industry worried about the future.


Thanks to the return of big names like Seotaiji, Rain, DBSK, Kim Jong Kook, etc, the music industry in 2008 has been more productive than the past few years. Their return have been reflected in the overall album sales. According to the Recording Industry Association of Korea (RIAK), up till August 2008, the sum of the total album sales of singers placed in the top 100 came up to 500 million. This is double of the total album sales in 2007 which numbered just 277 million copies. The numbers for 2008 is expected to hit 600 million eventually.

Athough album sales have been doubled compaered to 2007, the disparity in album sales between popular and rookie singers have been growing which cannot be ignored. Judging from the statistics offered by the RIAK, although there was a decline in overall album sales for 2007, the numbers were evenly distributed. Even a rookie singer is able to sell 5,000 albums and above.

The return of big name singers in 2008 have greatly affected the rookie and B-list singers. Some rookie singers can barely sell 2,000 albums. This compared to Big Bang who have sold 459,000 copies for two albums and 326,000 copies sold for DBSK 4th album, the great disparity is clear for all to see.

An industry expert expresssed, “The numbers for this year looks pretty good because of the big name singers return. But if you look from the perspective of the B-list and rookie singers, the situation is even worst than previous years. The big name singers comeback have meant that the numerous B-list and rookie singers have had their promotions cut short or being unable to do a good promotion. This situation doesn’t really look promising in the long-term.”

(note: if figures are wrong anywhere, please tell me)

27 thoughts on “Joy and Woe for Korean Music Industry in 2008

  1. I think the CDs for DBSK is still being discussed at this moment but I believe it is somewhere close to 400,000 but I am not too sure.

    Ah I hope that more people will now start buying more CDs… without that there will be no music worlds @___@

  2. where can I find information on album sales?? anyone know how many Rain and WG sold this year? I am really curious.

  3. woww
    i mean, i’ve never really looked at the #s and sutff on this
    but when i do, it does kinna open ur eyes to “reality”? lol
    i have a question though
    does rookie include groups like Shinee or 2PM?

  4. Does the RIAK count the numbers that are downloaded legally? From what I hear most Koreans download songs from music sites legally and only the fans buy albums.

  5. Yeah but what does this all mean? That the rookie singers are in danger, or that the music industry is (still) in danger? ^^;

  6. Due to all these comebacks, i think people are most likely to download off the internet rather than buying the actual albums, especially when it’s that easy to get free music. ..which is probably the cause for the downfall in album sales.. i think both rookie singers and their music industry are in danger : (

  7. omg,that must suck for the other singers. it probably makes them to want to give up before they even started plus only the big companies get attention these days SM,YG,JYP,etc. i wish that more International people know about Korean music cause they’ll buy the albums if they know how awesome their music is.good luck to the rest of the artists and newbies,all those years of training for only $2,000? thats really sad.

  8. That seriously sucks for the non A-listers. I think it’s kind of weird how they all decide to come back towards the end of the year when all the awards shows are right around the corner.

  9. well it’s time to make better, more unique music apart from everyone else, or buck the promotion game somehow. in the UK/US it’s completely different: artists are leaving record labels due to poor/too costly promotion, but that’s when they already are famous with loyal fanbase.

    it’s ironic that in internet age you can publish and promote yourself at lower cost “worldwide”. but Kpop turned itself into socializing activity, and everyone wants to discuss who did what on variety show or “awards” showcase. rookie/B-listers can’t play this game unless they offer something the major acts don’t — say, real music? LOL

  10. I can totally see where RIAK is coming from.
    If big stars are dominating the music chart & sales how are we the listeners to discover new talents or enjoy a bigger variety of music. But at the same time I’m back for the comebacks.
    Kim Jong Kook.

    Enough said.

  11. You know the blame can’t be put on the big stars. The rookie singers have to step up their promotions. You can’t be afraid to go against big names. Record labels need to be more creative and promote their artist with free concerts in the park. Touch on venue that big stars can’t go without causing a riot.

    Ajoo had a concert in the park. Why not do that? The internet is a domain that has produced great promotion for unknown artist. Talent can’t speak if you don’t allow it to shout. So the companies of these rookie singers need to step it up.

  12. big bangs 459,000 isnt only for 2 albums. they count ALL the sales for the past year which includes all of their mini-albums this year. -__-;

  13. i feel bad for all korean artists, period. there are wayyy too many singers/actors/celebrities on that tiny country.

  14. @123,BB only had ONE mini album this year which is Stand Up. and now their Remember album came out. every year they release two albums,on august and november since they debuted.its like tradition. like last year,their first mini album Always came out in august and Hot Issue came out,Stand Up came out august and Remember this month november. so i dont get where you get where you get the extra mini-albums from.

  15. I think the rookies and B-list singers could’ve have scheduled their album release better… so that it didn’t coincide with the comebacks. It’s really suicide to try and compete with the big names then… I am sure their companies could’ve gotten hold of such info and made arrangements. At the end of the day… the industry should make provisions for everyone so that they do well as a whole…

  16. reply to Katie

    I hope Shinee is not included! i think they did quite well!

    i dont know if SNSD album sell as well as Wondergirls.

    But 2PM gave me the feeling tht they belong to the ‘2000’ album..they just debuted in september. their voice still crack a bit when they sing. Worse, the month they debut is the comeback month for DBSK & maybe also Rain somewhere later.

  17. Big Bang’s 3rd mini single “Stand Up” and 2nd album “Remember” in addition to their sales in Japan, they’ve sold 430 thousand copies together.

    Till November 20th, DBSK’ total sales calculation amount to 615,809 in Korea. Their Japanese sales add up to 563,844 copies in total. The total for both their sales in Japan and Korea is 1,179,693 copies.

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