How Much Does it Cost to Produce a K Pop Idol Group

Hyo Kyung Kim, Aug. 5, 2016, 9:56 a.m.

A lingering question to many is how much does it cost to actually produce a k pop idol group.  According to a recent article by the Herald Corp, the average number of teams who prepare for debut as an idol group amount to approximately 300. Of those, only about 50 teams reach the debut stage, but as little as 1-2 rookie idol groups per year leave a strong, memorable impression to the public. 

According to industry experts, the cost of successfully forming, producing, and debuting an idol group is about 2,000,000,000 KRW (~ 1,800,000 USD). This amount includes the funds required for the trainees' board, meals, lessons, etc. The number of trainees a company houses at a time varies: for large companies like SM Entertainment, the number could be from 20-30, while for most small companies, the number is around 5. 

One industry expert stated, "For a company to train a group of trainees and successfully reach the debut stage, they need access to investors who will provide for them during a period without revenue, but for small labels, that's not easy." Another added, "It's hard for a group to hit it big after one album, so they need other means of maintaining their investments, etc. But so many small companies begin productions even when their source investors aren't promising, which leads to a good number of them closing down."

There are only two ways for a rookie idol group to succeed, industry experts say. One, obviously enough, is a rookie idol group produced by the big 3 companies - SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. The other is by gaining help from broadcasts, as in the case of IOI through 'Produce 101'. 

Furthermore, for an idol group to "go around music shows promoting for a month can cost as much as 100,000,000 KRW (~ 90,000 USD)." But according to sources from music programs, "We would like to introduce as many artists as possible, but due to time constraints, not everyone can participate... Every Monday, music show producers receive a flood of CDs, but there's no way they can listen to them all, and they can't help but choose artists who have at least somewhat of a presence to the public, or artists from labels whom they need to maintain good relations with." 

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