June 26, 2022

The sales of K-pop album last year recorded an unprecedented growth, even though the sales of digital music have been sluggish amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the country’s album sales tracker Gaon Chart’s year-end data, top 400 albums sold over 57 million copies in and out of the country in 2021, up 36.9 percent from 41.7 million in 2020.

Last year, leading the album market were the country’s big two K-pop agencies — Hybe and SM Entertainment.

According to Hybe, the agency behind popular boy groups such as BTS and Seventeen, on Gaon’s annual chart accounted for 33.5 percent of the total sales of the top 100 albums, with combined sales of 26 albums by its artists on the list reaching 15.23 million copies.

BTS’ English single “Butter,” released in May, sat atop the list with about 3 million copies, and other Hybe artists, such as Seventeen, Tomorrow X Together and Enhypen, also produced remarkable performances.

While SM Entertainment, the agency to idol groups such as EXO, NCT, and aespa mentioned to have recorded combined sales of 17.6 million copies, double the number of 2020.

However, unlike the booming music market, digital music sales have been rather sluggish.

The data suggested that in 2021 the combined sales of the top 400 songs were down 10.3 percent from a year ago, representing a 23.8 percent drop compared to 2019.

The music industry is looking COVID-19 and the emergence of new music streaming services to have had an impact on sales.

Experts suggest that it is a common that people tend to intensively use music streaming services during their commuting hours. However, the increase in the number of people working from home due to the pandemic has led to the sluggish sales. While fewer releases of new songs than usual years may have also had an influence on the slow sales.