K-Pop Album Exports Cracked a Record $132.93 Million During H1 2023 Amid Continued Global Buildout

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Seoul, South Korea. Photo Credit: Ciaran O’Brien

With artists including Blackpink and EXO continuing to make commercial waves on the global stage, K-pop album exports reportedly cracked a record $132.93 million during 2023’s opening half.

This latest K-pop sales data point just recently came to light in reports from regional outlets including the Korea Times as well as the Korea Customs Service database. The aforementioned $132.93 million marks a 17.1 percent improvement from Q1 and Q2 of 2022, per the Times.

By country, Japan (home to the world’s second-largest music market) is said to have topped the album-import list with its $48.52 million worth of consumed K-pop releases throughout H1. The U.S. ranked second by importing $25.51 million, according to the figures, supplanting China ($22.64 million) from the number-two spot that it had claimed for all of 2022.

Meanwhile, nations including but not limited to Germany, the U.K., and Hong Kong are said to have followed with relatively sizable shares of the remaining $36.26 million or so in K-pop album exports.

Of course, the all-time-high half-year export sum has entered the media spotlight on the heels of double-digit industry growth within South Korea during 2022. Additionally, 2023’s initial seven months have delivered a number of noteworthy consumption stats and partnerships in the quick-evolving K-pop space.

To be sure, it was only last month that girl group (G)I-DLE topped the NetEase Cloud Music charts by selling 300,000 copies of a mini-album to fans in China – which now boasts the fifth-biggest music industry in the world, per the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Also in June, boy band Stray Kids broke records by securing north of five million album presales (and two million day-one units moved) for 5-Star – one of many planned releases under a tie-up, also inked in June, between Universal Music/Republic and JYP Entertainment.

Additionally, SM-partnered Kakao Entertainment earlier in 2023 partnered with Sony Music’s Columbia Records, and BTS agency Hybe (which is reportedly prepping a close to $400 million global acquisition) in May finalized a new distribution deal with Tencent Music.

Most recently, after NewJeans reached one billion Spotify streams in less time than any other K-pop act to date, the solo debut single of BTS’ Jungkook racked up an astonishing 15 million first-day streams on Spotify.

At the time of this writing, the days-old Latto collaboration in question, “Seven,” had generated a staggering 68.28 million on-platform plays despite appearing to represent a significant lyrical departure from BTS projects. Needless to say, the latter are commercially successful in their own right.