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Korean soundtrack album sales surge, merchandise profits plunge

Promotional images of BTS V’s “Christmas Tree” from the SBS romantic comedy series soundtrack for “Our Beloved Summer” (left) and original soundtrack album of JTBC romance drama “The One and Only” (Most Contents, KeyEast and JTBC Studios)
Promotional images of BTS V’s “Christmas Tree” from the SBS romantic comedy series soundtrack for “Our Beloved Summer” (left) and original soundtrack album of JTBC romance drama “The One and Only” (Most Contents, KeyEast and JTBC Studios)
In line with the K-pop boom in and out of South Korea, sales of original soundtrack albums of Korean dramas and movies have surged. K-pop merchandise sales, on the other hand, have been sluggish in the wake of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, data showed Sunday.

Last year, 28,939 copies of soundtrack albums of hit dramas and movies were sold at Ktown4u, an online shopping mall that sells albums of K-pop groups and related goods. This marked huge jump from 8,784 copies in 2020 and 2,624 in 2019, according to Ktown4u.

Soundtrack albums generated 480.6 million won ($401,930) in revenue last year, while 2019’s figure came in at 39.5 million won.

Magazines that featured K-pop artists also saw their sales jump to 4.06 billion won in 2021 from 459.6 million won marked in 2019. The income from outdoor billboard advertisements sharply increased to 150.7 million won last year from 3 million won a year prior.

“In addition to the global cultural trend in watching Korean dramas and movies, well-known K-pop artists’ participation in soundtracks have boosted the sales of soundtrack albums,” the Ktown4u press release said. “An increasing number of overseas fans is requesting billboard ads here as well,“ said the company which also runs a billboard advertising business.

On the other hand, sales of K-pop artists-related merchandise failed to cash in on the unprecedented boom, as many in-person performances were canceled or delayed amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year’s sales of concert light sticks plunged to 15,971 from the 73,135 sold in 2019 and 88,459 in 2020, the data showed. That dragged revenue down to 504.2 million won from 2.63 billion won in 2020 and 2.34 billion won in 2019.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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