These Are The Richest K-Pop Groups Right Now

Money magazine recently revealed the nine top K-pop groups raking in the dough

By E! Asia Staff 23 Jul, 2019 7:02 AMTags
BLACKPINK, Coachella 2019

It's no secret that K-pop is one of the most lucrative industries in the world and has even been hailed as "South Korea's Greatest Export" by TIME magazine.

With billions of music views racked up on YouTube, the Big Four entertainment companies raking in almost US$1 billion in combined earnings, and K-pop acts such as BTS being valued at more than US$3.6 billion to the country's economy every year, it only shows the power and money-making ability of the industry. If you want a more thorough understanding of the K-pop industry, read here.

"We're at a really exciting turning point. A lot more American record labels and American brands and companies are looking to see how they can tap into these artists," music journalist and K-pop commentator Jeff Benjamin told Money magazine in an interview. 

But every industry has its top earners, and K-pop definitely has its fair share. Money magazine recently compiled a list of the top earning groups in the K-pop industry and the results are surprising, to say the least.

Read on to find out the richest K-pop bands now.

1. BTS

At the top of the list is K-pop phenomenon BTS — the seven-member boy band consisting of Jin, Jimin, J-Hope, Jungkook, Suga, RM and V — who skyrocketed to fame on the back of their wildly popular songs like "Fake Love", "Idol" and most recently, "Boy With Luv". Their revenue comes in from album sales, concert tours, merchandise — their most recent album Map of the Soul: Persona sold 3,229,032 copies in its first month in South Korea, and with their expansion into mobile games, their revenue looks set to grow even more in the coming years. In terms of concert sales, their most recent Love Yourself World Tour brought in more than one million fans worldwide and generated more than US$71.7 million in ticket sales. Is it any wonder they're the kings of K-pop?

2. TWICE

Formed by JYP Entertainment in 2015, the girl group earns second place on the list thanks to their many lucrative endorsement deals, on top of strong album and concert sales, reports Money. Their numerous endorsements deals include beauty brands such as Estée Lauder, beverages such as Pocari Sweat, and more than 30 other brands across clothing, online and mobile games, food and beverages, credit cards and more.

3. BLACKPINK

BLACKPINK is undisputedly one of the most recognisable names in K-pop right now — thanks to their ground-breaking inclusion at Coachella. Despite having only 15 songs and seven music videos under their belt, the girl group is a killer when it comes to album and concert sales. Their latest album, Kill This Love sold over 350,000 copies in China in the first week of its release and over 250,000 copies in South Korea in just eight days. Add to that their popularity in Japan and endorsement deals with brands such as Samsung, Louis Vuitton, Dior Beauty, and moonshot, and you'll get an idea of the earning power of this girl group.

4. TVXQ

Avid fans of K-pop will remember TVXQ, the boy band who skyrocketed to fame in the '00s. The group managed to sell over 10 million physical records in the first 10 years of their career, which continue to bring in revenue for them, and are also Japan's best-selling foreign artist in CD singles of all time.  Although the group subsequently rebranded as a duo in 2011 with original members  U-Know Yunho and Max Changmin, their popularity has not diminished — their Begin Again tour sold out three shows at the Nissan Stadium in Japan and sold one million tickets. 

5. EXO

Dubbed the "Kings of K-pop" by the media, EXO has been a commercial and critical success since their debut. A snapshot of their successes: Their first album, XOXO, sold over one million copies, while their latest album, Don't Mess Up My Tempo, sold 1.1 million copies in pre-sales. That's not even mentioning their wildly popular concerts — in 2018, their encore concert, "ElyXiOn [dot]", had more than 1.15 million people queuing virtually to get tickets, koreaboo reported. Topping off their revenue list includes multiple brand endorsement deals with Samsung, Nature Republic, and even the Star Wars franchise!

6. Seventeen

13-member boy band Seventeen has been around since 2015, but they've definitely earned their spot on the list. Money magazine credits their commercial success to their savvy tie-up with beauty brand Saem, breaking into the all-important Japanese market, and extensive touring.

7. Wanna One

Although K-pop boy band Wanna One was only in existence for slightly more than a year, their earning power was boosted by their popularity on music reality TV show, Produce 101, where idol hopefuls battle it out for a place in a newly formed band. The boy band made the most of their time together, going on many profitable tours between 2017 and 2018, signing endorsement deals (16, according to the Kpop Herald), a best-selling album that sold 438,000 physical copies in first week, and multiple television programs.

8. Red Velvet

Money credits Red Velvet's earning power to the girl group "nailing it on the endorsement front", on top of the girl group's global concerts and international appeal. The girl group has also been recognised by South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, who awarded the group the 'Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism's Commendation' for their achievements.  In 2018, the girl group became the seventh K-pop act to ever perform in North Korea — a true testament to the appeal of the girl group!

9. Got7

Last but definitely not least, boy band Got7 rounds up the list of top earners in the K-pop industry. According to Money, their multinational makeup helps to "explain the group's wide appeal across continents" and their many tours help to bring in revenue. Endorsements with brands such as Adidas, and beauty brands such as The Face Shop also add to their revenue.