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.