According to JYP Entertainment‘s statistics, it can cost up to a staggering ₩900 million KRW (about $786,000 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 $611,000 USD) and ₩900 million KRW (about $786,000 USD).
A comeback for an existing group isn’t much cheaper. A mini-album with three songs costs ₩12 million krw to record and ₩15 million krw to produce. That’s a total of ₩27.0 million KRW (about $23,600 USD), just for three songs!
A single music video can cost ₩150 million KRW (about $131,000 USD). If the company were to release a music video for just half the tracks on a typical 6 track mini-album, it would cost them ₩450 million KRW (about $393,000 USD), plus the album’s jacket shooting cost of ₩20.0 million KRW (about $17,500 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 $437,000 USD)!
That ₩500 million includes: ₩50.0 million KRW (about $43,700 USD) for choreography,₩100 million KRW (about $87,300 USD) for backup dancers, ₩170 million KRW (about $148,000 USD) for stage outfits (worn for 6 weeks of promotions, to 4 music shows a week), and ₩10.0 million KRW (about $8,730 USD) just for stage makeup! Viral marketing costs another ₩150 million KRW (about $131,000 USD), while processing and other miscellaneous costs run up to ₩2.00 million KRW (about $1,750 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 over ₩1.50 billion KRW (about $1.31 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 billion won in debt, if they signed with a company other than the “Big 3”.
JYP Entertainment (TWICE, GOT7, 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!