It’s not a secret that streaming services like Spotify have been at the forefront of the music scene for several years. American mega star Taylor Swift even pulled her music from the popular streaming site, saying that:
“In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace. Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.”
This has become a hot topic, causing many popular artists to see their sales fall due to streaming sites. According to Digital Music News Apple and Spotify accounted for 64% of the entire subscriber base. At the end of 2016, total music subscriptions totaled 100.4 million. The same article even goes further into this trend, saying that: at some stage, perhaps in 2017, we will see streaming in many markets hit the glass ceiling of demand that exists for the 9.99 price point. Additionally the streaming-driven download collapse and the impending CD collapses in German and Japan all mean that it would be unwise to expect recorded revenues to register uninterrupted growth over the next 3 to 5 years. If this is true, why do JYP Entertainment girl group TWICE come into this topic?
It can be argued that K-Pop as a whole is on a whole other level when it comes to physical sales of albums. The packaging, themes, and gifts that come with these albums are what seem to draw in massive sales. The TWICE mini album ‘TWICEcoaster: Lane 2‘ was released on February 19th, and not soon after they were achieving all-kills. Their comeback single ‘KNOCK KNOCK‘ reached No. 1 on eight music charts in South Korea. However, it’s not just TWICE who are soaring in the physical sales of their music.
Like mentioned previously, the packaging of these albums are responsible for their massive sales, compared to America and Europe. This trend is also happening in Japan as well, with the Korean acts who cross over, as well as native J-Pop acts. SM Entertainment group SHINee have had their share of massive success in Japan, recently releasing their fifth studio album ‘FIVE‘. This is something TWICE will be doing this summer, as they make their Japanese debut dipping into a whole new world of album sales.
Both Japan and Korea have brought life back into CD sales, which has generated quite a buzz among the consumers of music. It’s not uncommon for groups to go all out for their newest releases, adding special features along the way. TWICE’s newest album ‘TWICEcoaster: Lane 2’ had many fun features for fans to enjoy. These include: pre-order benefits, stickers, lyric books, posters, and a photo book.
These CD sales are still extremely popular at concerts as well, something that has also been dying in the music industry. The fact that these record labels are taking out all the stops to improve the sales of these groups, says a lot about the market they are catering to. While many fans are excited with all the extra perks that come with their album, some still fell overwhelmed by the number of items that come with it. With TWICE for example, their third mini album ‘TWICEcoaster Lane: 1‘ came with 1 of 9 CD plates, and in two editions, each had a different photobook, sticker, and set of photos. When taken into perspective, this is a lot for a single album that normally has less than ten songs.
However, it is imperative to give credit where it is due, and the K-Pop industry deserves this credit. While some special editions of albums can cost a pretty penny, the comparison of K-Pop albums to American albums is embarrassing. The new TWICE album will roughly cost twenty dollars for international fans (shipping added into that), whereas the ‘Divide‘ Deluxe album by Ed Sheeran is about the same price; which only includes a CD, 16 songs, and an album sleeve. Compared to American albums, K-Pop albums bring the heat. It’s no mystery why TWICE continues to dominate the physical sales market, with their creative twists on new releases. Maybe if the American market picked up this new twist on album sales, the market would revive itself, making less people turn to streaming sites for their music.
Do you think the success of groups like TWICE is a result of their creative album concepts? Or do you think K-Pop as a whole sells better because it is more intuitive into what music consumers want in a purchase? Let us know in the comments below!
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Edited By: Sarah Smith
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