Korean pop music (K-pop) has become one of the biggest global phenomena and has allowed South Korean culture to become a major driver of global culture.
BTS, the most popular K-pop band in the world at this moment, is at the heart of this rise, with the newly released song Dynamite debuting at No.1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 as well as its music video setting the record as the first Youtube video to surpass 100 million views within 24 hours.
Riding on the success of BTS, Big Hit Entertainment, the management agency of BTS, has priced its initial public offering (IPO) at 4.8 trillion won (S$6 billion).
However, is BTS really as big as other global musicians? We’ve analysed social media platforms such as Youtube, Spotify and Instagram in order to compare BTS to other top 50 global musicians.
- BTS' Youtube subscribers, most-viewed video viewer number, streaming number and Instagram followers are as high as other musicians listed on Billboard Top 30 chart
- After debuting at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 as well becoming the fastest MV to surpass 100 million views within 24 hours, BTS' newly released song Dynamite is maintaining a meaningfully higher daily viewership on Youtube than than other top musicians' new songs
- Big Hit Entertainment's valuation is more than the combined value of the big 3 entertainment firms in Korea (SM, JYP, YG), and could be overvalued compared to even Warner Music Group, a global music industry powerhouse behind top stars like Cardi B, Ed Sheehan and Bruno Mars
Social Media: BTS is already top 30 global musician
The days when music consumers had to buy physical albums ended in the 20th century with the advent of the Internet. Instead of rushing into the store to buy CDs, people listen to music on Spotify, watch music videos on Youtube and follow musicians on social media.
Such transition in music consumption suggests Spotify streamers, Youtube viewers and social media followers have become the most significant indicators measuring a musician’s fame. So how big is BTS compared to other top global musicians?
We’ve analysed publicly available data on 50 top-selling musicians to determine which musician has the most popularity and fame. Of all 50 musicians we analysed, BTS stands out as one of the top 30 musicians in the world, and even had the 9th highest Youtube subscribers in our study.
|Artist||Youtube Subscribers||Youtube Most-viewed (song)||Spotify streaming number||Instagram Followers||Total Ranking|
|Justin Bieber||1||2 (Sorry)||3||4||1|
|Ed Sheeran||4||1 (Shape of You)||4||17||2|
|Ariana Grande||6||12 (Side to Side)||6||1||3|
|Taylor Swift||7||5 (Shake It Off)||16||5||4|
|Katy Perry||8||4 (Roar)||19||8||5|
|Selena Gomez||14||29 (The Heart Wants What It Wants)||13||2||6|
|Maroon 5||12||3 (Sugar)||12||26||8|
|Eminem||5||9 (Love The Way You Lie)||18||19||10|
|Drake||15||14 (Hotline Bling)||2||12||12|
|Nicki Minaj||18||27 (Anaconda)||10||7||13|
|Blackpink||2||18 (DDU-DU DDU-DU)||26||21||14|
|Billie Eilish||11||26 (Bad Guy)||15||13||15|
|The Weeknd||20||13 (Starboy)||1||22||17|
|Jennifer Lopez||28||15 (On The Floor)||30||6||18|
|Bruno Mars||13||10 (The Lazy Song)||22||24||19|
|Cardi B||27||21 (I Like It)||5||10||20|
|The Chainsmokers||19||7 (Closer)||24||27||22|
|Calvin Harris||25||8 (This Is What You Came For)||14||25||23|
|Chris Brown||21||25 (Loyal)||21||11||24|
|Lady Gaga||24||19 (Bad Romance)||9||14||25|
|Post Malone||22||20 (Congratulations)||11||23||26|
|Travis Scott||30||30 (SICKO MODE)||8||16||27|
|Linkin Park||26||17 (Numb)||29||28||28|
|Queen||29||22 (Bohemian Rhapsody)||23||30||29|
|Michael Jackson||23||28 (Billie Jean)||27||29||30|
However, while BTS recently rose to prominence with their new song Dynamite, other top global musicians such as Ed Sheehan, Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande still stand out in all categories, from most-viewed Youtube video to Instagram follower.
Even Blackpink, another popular K-pop band, ranks at 14th which is slightly higher than BTS. All things considered, K-pop artists including BTS and Blackpink are still lagging behind other top musicians which may indicate that their most recent achievements might not have been fully reflected yet.
Still, they rank within the top 30 list despite their shorter careers, suggesting K-pop still has more potential to grow more than ever.
BTS’ Dynamite ranked No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100
Indeed, the ranking above does not fully capture the most recent trends where K-pop artists have just started to become mainstream globally. For instance, the most-viewed Youtube video of BTS that we used in our ranking was DNA, not Dynamite.
In order to make the ranking more aligned with the most recent trends, we’ve calculated the daily viewer number of the most recent Youtube music videos. As a result, BTS’ Dynamite ranked first with over 10 million daily views and Blackpink’s Ice Cream ranks second with 8 million daily views.
In comparison, Cardi B’s WAP, which maintained its dominance over the Billboard charts for over a month since its release, had less than 50 per cent of Dynamite's daily viewers.
Overall, the popularity of K-pop artists on social platforms turned out to be 2-3x higher than other global musicians, and this proves that the ranking above does not completely cover the most recent records of K-pop songs.PHOTO: ValueChampion
We’ve also analysed the daily streaming number of the songs listed on Spotify’s Top 200 chart. The daily streaming number of Cardi B’s WAP ranked first with 5 million daily streams, BTS’ Dynamite ranks second with 3.94 million streams and Justin Bieber’s Holy ranks third with 3.39 million streams, which indicates BTS has become as phenomenal as other great musicians.
In addition, Blackpink’s Ice Cream hit 1.98 million daily streams, marking the highest position ever by a K-pop girl group.
However, Spotify stream figures likely underestimate K-pop artists's audience since the service is not mainstream in Asian countries, especially in Korea, where a significant portion of their fanbase exists.PHOTO: ValueChampion
BTS and Big Hit Entertainment: How big will it be?
BTS’ overseas success not only has allowed K-pop to become a part of mainstream culture but also has created tremendous economic impact.
In fact, the Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) reported that BTS generates an estimated amount of 4 trillion won ($3.54 billion) of economic value to South Korea per year and predicted that BTS’ 10-year economic impact will reach 56.2 trillion won.
Riding on the success of BTS, Big Hit generated a record 587.2 billion won (roughly $507.9 million) in revenue last year, which increased by 7 times since 2016, becoming the 2nd biggest entertainment company in Korea in terms of sales.
On Oct 15, the company will launch its IPO, valuing the company at 4.8 trillion won ($4.1 billion). Yet, there are some concerns that the company may be overvalued because Big Hit's business is heavily dependent on BTS.
In order to evaluate the actual value of the company, we’ve analyzed financial statements of music labels in Korea as well as in the US.
Financial statements of music labels in Korea and the US
|($mn)||Warner Music Group||Big Hit||SM||JYP||YG|
|Growth rate||0.76 per cent||95 per cent||7 per cent||25 per cent||-2 per cent|
First, Big Hit's valuation is more than the combined value of SM, JYP, YG, the country's top 3 entertainment companies. Of course, Big Hit has been growing considerably faster than its peers; however, that the label relies heavily on 1 K-pop idol group should be a huge concern for investors.
For instance, the average life span of K-pop idol groups is known to be only 5 to 10 years, often fading in popularity due to competition, scandals or military service.
Indeed, 2 of the 7 BTS members are nearing their mandatory military service, which suggests the group may not be able to perform as a complete team for much longer.
Furthermore, Big Hit Entertainment's valuation seems unrealistic when compared to Warner Music Group (WMG), the third largest in the global music industry. Big Hit’s revenue is about 10 per cent of WMG’s, but its valuation is about 30 per cent of WMG’s.
This contrast is even more concerning when considering the fact that WMG has a number of top musicians such as Cardi B, Ed Sheehan and Bruno Mars, while Big Hit mostly relies on BTS and has no other global musicians.
In fact, there are some views that the company seems to be overvalued and it might not be able to maintain the estimated market cap unless it diversifies its business structure.
We used publicly available data of 50 top-selling musicians based on their physical/digital album sales, and statistis from platforms like Youtube, Spotify and Instagram.
In order to see which artist has the most popularity, we gathered data of each musician’s Youtube subscriber number, most-viewed video viewer number, Spotify streaming number and Instagram follower number.
|Artist||Youtube Subscribers (mn)||Youtube Most-viewed (song)||Spotify streaming number||Instagram Followers (mn)|
|1||Justin Bieber||57.2||3,344,152,168 (Sorry)||54,959,128||148|
|2||Ariana Grande||43.3||1,804,804,410 (Side to Side)||50,435,169||203|
|3||Ed Sheeran||45.6||4,997,696,657 (Shape of You)||51,374,606||32|
|4||Taylor Swift||39.9||2,968,489,562 (Shake It Off)||40,288,776||140|
|5||Katy Perry||38.6||3,182,514,641 (Roar)||35,510,726||107|
|6||Selena Gomez||26.8||692,509,088 (The Heart Wants What It Wants)||43,714,366||194|
|10||Drake||22.8||1,663,253,262 (Hotline Bling)||61,906,396||72|
|11||Maroon 5||32||3,290,473,710 (Sugar)||43,769,058||8|
|12||Eminem||44.5||2,067,536,542 (Love The Way You Lie)||35,938,919||31|
|13||Nicki Minaj||21.5||958,940,958 (Anaconda)||44,273,954||123|
|14||Billie Eilish||34||974,931,000 (bad guy)||41,548,457||67|
|16||The Weeknd||20.5||1,753,169,676 (Starboy)||63,946,390||25|
|17||Jennifer Lopez||13.4||1,608,795,739 (On The Floor)||16,453,245||132|
|18||Cardi B||14.7||1,230,954,661 (I Like It)||50,774,968||76|
|20||Bruno Mars||28.2||1,962,298,773 (The Lazy Song)||33,206,050||22|
|22||Calvin Harris||17.5||2,388,829,906 (This Is What You Came For)||41,829,925||10|
|23||Chris Brown||20.1||1,008,987,442 (Loyal)||34,444,365||72|
|24||The Chainsmokers||20.9||2,552,684,485 (Closer)||31,403,909||7|
|25||Lady Gaga||18.3||1,272,438,740 (Bad Romance)||44,671,488||44|
|26||Post Malone||19.8||1,254,752,114 (Congratulations)||44,052,147||23|
|27||Travis Scott||12.4||680,227,273 (SICKO MODE)||45,390,451||34|
|28||Justin Timberlake||8.94||1,270,171,693 (Can't Stop The Feeling)||21,362,568||59|
|29||DJ Khaled||10.2||1,453,202,115 (I'm The One)||31,666,160||22|
|31||Queen||13.2||1,208,558,964 (Bohemian Rhapsody)||32,920,396||4|
|32||Linkin Park||16.8||1,459,335,529 (Numb)||19,316,644||6|
|33||Michael Jackson||18.7||843,549,520 (Billie Jean)||23,569,158||5|
|34||Britney Spears||7.86||533,501,817 (Baby One More Time)||16,053,792||27|
|35||Whitney Houston||5.24||991,279,529 (I Will Always Love You)||20,226,949||1|
|37||Kanye West||6.41||360,785,341 (Stronger)||31,974,211||N/A|
|38||Metallica||6.54||835,532,451 (Nothing Else Matters)||16,086,270||7|
|39||Mariah Carey||6.2||638,796,832 (All I Want For Christmas Is You)||14,225,714||10|
|40||The Beatles||4.8||297,181,834 (Don't Let Me Down)||22,986,623||N/A|
|41||Madonna||4.28||347,041,528 (La Isla Bonita)||13,306,239||16|
|42||Jonas Brothers||4.9||285,140,630 (Sucker)||20,220,889||N/A|
|43||Elton John||1.93||329,148,054 (Sacrifice)||23,859,701||N/A|
|44||Pink Floyd||2.28||503,072,921 (Another Brick In The Wall)||13,625,242||N/A|
|45||The Rolling Stones||2.13||50,096,262 (Anybody Seen My Baby)||19,820,498||N/A|
|46||Celine Dion||4.48||208,091,901 (I'm Alive)||9,656,007||N/A|
|47||Elvis Presley||1.75||241,370,476 (Can't Help Falling In Love)||12,364,385||N/A|
|48||Billy Joel||1.03||153,744,999 (Piano Man)||14,447,654||N/A|
|49||Eagles||0.272||571,132,833 (Hotel California)||13,993,474||N/A|
|50||George Strait||0.641||85,244,301 (Remember When)||4,086,052||N/A|
This article was first published in ValueChampion.