Kpop Keeping Physical Albums Alive

By: Tahnee Riddick

As streaming music digitally is becoming the preferred method of enjoying music, the purchasing of physical albums is rapidly declining. However, South Korean boy group, BTS sold over 4 million pre-order copies of their newly released album, “Map of the Soul: 7.” This record beats their previous album “Map of The Soul: Persona”, which sold 2.68 million copies during its pre-order period.

Like any other growing artist, BTS started from the very bottom of their career selling as little as 24,000 albums for their debut album 2 Cool 4 Skool in 2013. Nearly seven years later, following their most recent album’s release, “Map Of The Soul: 7” officially sold over 7 million copies according to Gaon’s retail album chart.

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The BTS fandom, ARMY, are well aware of the achievements and celebrated their capability to break their own record in the first week of the pre-order sale. 

Thanks to music streaming websites and applications like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and Youtube it is much easier for people to access the songs they crave to hear at that moment. The funny thing is that the majority of K-pop fans still use these sites to stream the music of their favorite artists despite having purchased a physical album. The reasoning behind this is not only because many no longer have CD players, but it’s all rooted in wanting to increase the artists’ chances for success and achieving a higher goal than they have reached previously. 

Albums in the K-pop industry are much more significant than those in America for various reasons. In America the consumer is typically only purchasing the physical CD that comes along with a tiny booklet with the production credits, track list, and some photos of the artist. Consumers of K-pop albums however, are greeted with the physical CD, a larger photo book, and randomized photo-cards of the artists. Most times, depending on the benefits for that album release, albums can come with an additional poster, photo-cards, bookmarks as well as other goodies. Fan’s purchase many versions in order to grow their photo-card collection, and from there would trade or sell cards they no longer want like one would with baseball cards.


Gif Source: Golden_Idol WeHeartIt

This is beneficial to the artists in terms of achieving new milestones in the industry. The highest selling and highest charting artist is more likely to win momentous awards from daily Korean music shows or even at end of the year ceremonies. BTS are well known to be one of the many K-pop groups to do this themselves within the past few years.

The singers can obviously see this immense support. The acknowledgment of this growth can increase their passion for their work, but it also can bring a great amount of pressure to the artists as well. Such pressure could be the idea of having to continuously top the previously released music and comeback with a better performance. During the 2018 Mnet Asian Music Awards, BTS themselves even admitted to feeling the pressure to do well for ARMY to the point where they considered disbandment. Fortunately, they decided against it because of all of the great support they constantly receive from their fans, which pushed them to continue in perfecting their craft and getting to where they are today. 


As far as the future goes, BTS, ARMY and many other artists along with their fandoms will continue raising the bar until physical albums no longer have an impact as much as they do now. Until then, be sure to check out BTS’ music here.

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