K-pop exports to hit record high this year as fandom spreads beyond Asia

2021.12.01 11:05:18 | 2021.12.01 14:10:15

BTS performs during the 49th Annual American Music Awards.이미지 확대

BTS performs during the 49th Annual American Music Awards.

Korean pop music exports are expected to hit a record high of $200 million this year thanks to K-pop fandom beyond Asia partly driven by booming unconventional media channels like YouTube.

According to data from Korea Customs Service on Wednesday, Korea’s music album exports reached a record $189.7 million in the first 10 months of the year, already surpassing last year’s total of $136 million. Annual exports for this year are projected to hit a $200 million milestone after topping the $100 million level for the first time in 2020.

Japan was the biggest buyer of album sales from Korea at $67.04 million, followed by China, the United States, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

Most notably, Korean pop music has rapidly expanded in the home of pop music.

Americans who were behind just 2.2 percent of Korea’s total music album exports in 2012 took up 17.1 percent in October this year, suggesting K-pop popularity is gathering pace beyond Asia.

Music content distributor Genie Music saw its overseas sales surge from 12.1 billion won ($10.2 million) in 2019 to 19.2 billion won last year.

K-pop fever gained impetus from BTS sensation. This year, K-pop superstar BTS’ “Butter” landed top on Billboard Hot 100 chart for 10 weeks and “Permission to Dance” and “My Universe” also at No. 1.

Blackpink이미지 확대


Other K-pop music groups joined the Billboard – Blackpink’s The Album debuted at No. 2 on Billboard 200 and Twice and Itzy No. 3 and No. 11, respectively. Other names that have made into the Billboard main charts are Ateez, Enhypen, Monsta X, Lisa, Aespa, and NCT 127.

K-pop fans also actively search past albums of their favorite artists in the internet space and recreate them into videos and images on various platforms like YouTube, continuously inviting new fandom, said Lee Sung-su, chief executive at SM Entertainment.

Fans in the internet media era often express their strong personal attachment to favorite music and performance on various social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok, stoking interest from others across borders, agreed Lee Gyu-tag, professor at George Mason University.

K-pop artists are making their names also by appearing on major TV shows in the U.S. Seventeen and Twice appeared on MTV Fresh Out Live and performed new songs “Rock With You” and “Scientist.”

This month, NCT 127 also appeared on NBC talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show and performed their new “Favorite” song.

In September, Blackpink Lisa also picked NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as her debut stage for solo “Lalisa.”

By Pulse

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