K-Pop CEO Breaks Down The Staggering Cost Of Debuting An Idol

The CEO of AleXa’s company revealed the costs of music video production, promotions, and more.

On October 21 last year, former Produce 48 contestant and Rising Legends winner AleXa (then known as Alex Christine) made her debut with “Bomb”. This year, the CEO of her label ZANYBROS opened up about just how expensive it is to debut an idol and broke down exactly what that money is spent on.


You may not have heard of ZANYBROS, but you’ve definitely seen some of the company’s work. Before they started their idol agency, ZB Label, the team worked on music videos for some of the biggest artists in K-Pop—including MAMAMOO’s “HIP” and (G)I-DLE’s “Senorita”.


Korean-American AleXa is the first artist to debut under ZANYBROS, so CEO Kim Junhong definitely had his work cut out for him. In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Kim revealed the top two costs when debuting an idol: the music video and the promotions.

AleXa in “Bomb”

The music video for AleXa’s “Bomb” cost a whopping $120,000 USD! This money went on directors, creatives, filming and lighting equipment, special effects (including CGI), styling, editing, and more. AleXa’s sci-fi themed MV featured everything from fire to ray-gun effects, which certainly drove costs up.

Surprisingly, the music video cost ended up being the most unexpected one for Kim Junhong. As a company primarily dedicated to producing music videos, you’d think ZANYBROS would be able to budget with 100% accuracy. But in the end, they spent a lot more than initially predicted. Kim also pointed out that if they hadn’t had ZANYBROS in-house facilities, costs could’ve been far higher.

Promotions and marketing weren’t much cheaper, coming in at around $90,000 USD—another figure that surprised the CEO. This included money spent on Korean and international PR managers, online ads, merchandise, and styling for music shows.

$30,000 USD was spent on choreographing the song, including hiring a practice room and backup dancers. Creating the song “Bomb” itself cost a further $30,000 USD. That’s how much it costs for composition, lyrics, recording, mixing, and mastering.

“Bomb” dance practice

Once the song was ready, making the physical album cost a lot less. The photoshoot, packaging design, and CD production costs came in at around $9,000.

AleXa unboxing her debut album.

Even planning incurs costs. The company spent around $6,000 on data surveys and recording planning.

Finally, there are the incidental and logistical costs of making a debut happen. ZANYBROS had to pay for accommodation and food, AleXa’s medical care, and even car parking. All this cost around $15,000.

Behind the scenes of “Bomb”.

All in all, Kim Junhong had expected to spend $200,000 USD (around ₩235 million KRW) on AleXa’s debut. However, the final figure ended up being a staggering $300,000 (around ₩350 million KRW)!

Behind the scenes of “Bomb”.

Kim went on to say that this is more than small companies spend on artist debuts, but a lot less than big companies.

That’s definitely true for JYP Entertainment. According to the company’s statistics, debuting a 5-member boy group would cost up to ₩900 million KRW ($765,000 USD). JYP Entertainment spends around the same as ZANYBROS on a debut music video, but promotion costs alone can run up to ₩500 million KRW ($425,000 USD).

Stray Kids’ debut “Hellevator”

Some big companies spend even more on music videos. The estimated costs for EXO’s “Mama” and Super Junior’s “Devil” were around $300,000 USD. Meanwhile, B.A.P’s “One Shot” reportedly cost ₩1 billion KRW ($850,000 USD) to produce!

B.A.P’s “One Shot”
Source: Culture Trip and Forbes