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K-pop singers earn ‘more,’ labels pocket ‘less’

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Updated : January 12 2016

With the popularity of K-pop singers surging overseas, their earnings have been on the rise while their agencies are pocketing less partly due to rampant piracy and illegal downloads in the Chinese music market, according to market insiders.

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The nation’s largest label SM Entertainment’s annual sales growth was merely 9 percent during the last two years, compared to more than 36.1 percent for the previous seven years, according to financial experts on Tuesday.

SM’s arch-rival YG Entertainment also saw a 21.1 percent growth in sales from 2012 to 2014, compared to an average annual growth of 56.1 percent from 2007 to 2012.

As opposed to lackluster earnings of large labels, their musicians made a hefty profit.

The annual pay of singers jumped 107 percent to 55 million won ($45,400) in 2014, from 26 million won in 2010 thanks to increased popularity in Asia especially including China and Japan.

Labels, struggling from their main entertainment businesses, have recently expanded into new businesses including contents production, cosmetics and fashion business.

“Agencies, whose earnings mainly rely on their celebrities’ performances, need to find stable income sources through new businesses,” said Lee Nam-joon, a researcher from KTB Investment & Securities.

(khnews@heraldcorp.com)

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