The Breakdown — Why It Takes Over $1 Million To Debut A K-Pop Group

Things are more expensive then you think…

According to JYP Entertainment‘s statistics, it can cost up to a staggering ₩900 million KRW (about $672,000 USD) just to train a new K-Pop group!

These numbers are based on a hypothetical 5-member boy group. If each of the members trains for an average of 3 years, this alone would cost JYP Entertainment between ₩700 million KRW (about $522,000 USD) and ₩900 million KRW (about $672,000 USD).

A comeback for an existing group isn’t much cheaper. A mini-album with three songs costs ₩12.0 million KRW (about $8,950 USD) to record and ₩15.0 million KRW (about $11,200 USD) to produce. That’s a total of ₩27.0 million KRW (about $20,100 USD), just for three songs! Now keep in mind most mini-albums have five songs and an instrumental track. The costs keep increasing!

A single music video can cost ₩150 million KRW (about $112,000 USD), but many companies spend much more than this. Companies nowadays are releasing multiple music videos for an album, further increasing the costs. Plus the album’s jacket shooting cost of ₩20.0 million KRW (about $14,900 USD)!

… And the price of a mini-album is nothing compared to the marketing costs. Promoting an existing group’s comeback through music broadcasts costs ₩500 million KRW (about $373,000 USD)!

That ₩500 million includes: ₩50.0 million KRW (about $37,300 USD) for choreography, ₩100 million KRW (about $74,600 USD) for backup dancers, ₩170 million KRW (about $127,000 USD) for stage outfits (worn for 6 weeks of promotions, to 4 music shows a week), and ₩10.0 million KRW (about $7,460 USD) just for stage makeup! Marketing costs another ₩150 million KRW (about $112,000 USD), while processing and other miscellaneous costs run up to ₩2.00 million KRW (about $1,490 USD).

If a group costs ₩900 million to debut, ₩197 million for a mini-album and related costs, and ₩500 million for their first comeback, that comes to almost ₩1.60 billion KRW (about $1.19 million USD) just for one K-Pop group!

K-Pop is, at its core, a wildly competitive and lucrative business. Companies pour funds into their stars because they expect a sizable profit in return.

Idol groups that don’t live up to the company’s expectations can expect to rack up over ₩1.00 billion KRW (about $746,000 USD) in debt, if they signed with a company other than the “Big 3”.

JYP Entertainment (TWICEGOT7, and 2PM)…

YG Entertainment (BIGBANG, BLACKPINK, and WINNER)…

…and SM Entertainment (EXO, SHINee, and Girls’ Generation) do not do trainee debt.

For idols who have signed with other labels, the financial stakes are much higher. As if the pressures of success weren’t hard enough on their own!