I Collected Over 10 Years of Gaon Monthly Physical Sales Data into a Spreadsheet, so Let's Take a Look at the Supposed Growth in the Physical Market

  • By now, I think everyone has noticed that physical sales have been steadily increasing over the past several years. Discussions centering around this fact tend to come up often in the AKP forum when comparing artists of different generations, such as in this recent thread authored by ripia.

    Now I wanted to see the extent of this sales growth, so I decided to cut and paste all available Gaon Monthly Album Chart from their official web site into an Excel file. This includes sales figures for the top 100 best selling albums in each month, dating all the way back to January 2011 (the height of the Second Generation).

    With all this data in a spreadsheet, I was able to easily calculate the combined sales for the top 100 albums each month, and the resulting figures are graphed in the chart below. Note that I also included a six-period moving average line in purple.


    The first thing we notice is that physical sales have indeed increased dramatically since 2011. Currently, the top 100 albums each month are selling around a combined 5 million copies; this is 10 times more than what we saw in 2011!

    However, I will point out that sales were actually very stable between 2011 and 2016, and in fact, only began to rise significantly around the second half of 2016. What happened around this time that caused this increase?

    In addition, we see that physical sales increased even more dramatically beginning in the first half of 2020. Just look at how much greater the slope of the moving average line is starting from that period. What is responsible for this massive increase in buying that *doubled* the amount of monthly album sales from 2.5 million to 5 million?

    I'm curious to see what everyone thinks are the reasons for the particular sales patterns shown above: steady sales from 2011 to 2016, growth from 2016 to 2020, and accelerating growth from 2020 until present day.

  • Is it easy for you to grab the info regarding who had the top 10 sellers in each year and the proportion the release contributed to the top 100 (if you have the data already in an excel).

    You could infer most of the story from that.

  • Like I have said multiple times here, kpop sales were very steady from 2011-16 (mainly thanks to Exo), they got huge boost in 2017 when BTS opened up the global market for everyone. Since then kpop physicals have only gone up. This is very well represented by the graph.

    2020 boost is mainly because of pandemic. Since kpop groups cannot tour, they're spending that money on albums. Kpop companies have also found another way of increasing sales that is selling some of the versions for cheaper prices during this pandemic. Also online fanmeetings have given international fans an option to bulk buy to get an opportunity to interact with their faves.

    I expect kpop sales to either decrease or be stagnant as soon as touring starts.

    Good work wsoet! It would have been better if you had included 2010 data as well since that is when GAON was found so we could have had full GAON data.

  • Obviously a HUGE loss, but we are still selling way more than in the past and with more groups selling +800 k per album etc.

    It's less about the total numbers but more about how the trend will be affected I mean. Will the rise in 2016 still be there? The 2020 one will definitely be there but will it be to the same degree or more? Maybe some the 2016 rise will start later?

  • I included BP first physical album selling "a lot" and some groups selling with every release. 2020 was the epitome of this growth. But i could be wrong and biased kkkkkk

    We all are nothing wrong with that. As long as we know our biases:smirks2:

    But let's see

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