Reasons Why Idol Groups Still Appear On Music Shows Despite Low Ratings And Large Expenses

Many fans get excited to watch their favorite artists perform on weekly music shows such as “M! Countdown,” “Music Bank,” “Inkigayo,” “Show Champion,” “Show! Music Core,” and “The Show.”

Despite the fact that these music shows record viewership ratings around 3 percent, idol groups still make sure to appear on them. Author Yoo Sung Woon of the book “Girl Group Economics” (literal title) wrote about how girl groups took over the market and how they moved consumers by using scarcity, desire for collecting, and loyalty.

Until author Yoo Sung Woon met agencies of girl groups, he thought that everyone liked appearing on music shows. But he soon found that it was not that simple and the biggest factor was expenses. Every time a group appeared on stage, it cost about 10 million won (approximately $8,868) for expenses including meals, stage costumes, stylists, and gas, with stage costumes costing the most amount of money.

According to the author, producing directors do not like it when groups wear stage outfits on their show that they’ve already worn to another show. Because of this, each member needs to have at least four stage outfits, which cost hundreds of thousands to millions of won. In the case of girl groups with many members such as nine-membered girl group TWICE, this is not something that can be easily overlooked. And in return, groups receive about 200,000 won to 500,000 won (approximately $117 to $443), which maybe covers gas money.

But money is not the biggest issue. The reason why some are hesitant to appear on music shows is due to the low viewership ratings. KBS’s “Music Bank” often sits below 1 percent in viewership ratings. For example, the March 10, 2017 episode recorded 0.9 percent in viewership ratings which is about equivalent to the viewership ratings of the national anthem, and a significant drop compared to the days when it used to achieve around 20 to 30 percent. The latest episode, which aired on March 1, 2019, scored ratings of 1.4 percent, which is relatively high for the show.

Although viewership ratings have dropped, the expenses have not decreased and the appearance fees are almost the same as they were 20 years ago. A director of an agency said, “If you measure the income, it’s better to go to a local event than to go on TV.” But there’s a clear reason why these groups still continue to appear on these music shows.

The phrase “Buffet Effect” sometimes appears in the business section of the newspaper and is used to describe the rise in stock value just because Warren Buffet optimistically spoke about or invested in something.

The “Buffet Effect” can be used to describe girl group appearances on music shows. According to a source from the music industry, the appearance fee for a group’s event jumps three to four times after appearing on a music show. A source working in the agency of a five-membered girl group said, “After receiving around 2 million to 3 million won (approximately $1,774 to $2,661) per event, it rose to 10 million won (approximately $8,869) after appearing on a music show.”

Does the “Buffet Effect” then apply to variety show appearances as well? Every single agency stated that winning first place on a music show has much more impact than appearing on a variety show. The director of an agency explained, “If you get first place on a music show, the event fee jumps 10 times.”

For example, Girl’s Day achieved their first win three years after their debut on an episode of “Music Bank” in 2014. The number of the girl group’s TV ads suddenly surged from four to over 20. The sales of Girl’s Day’s agency Dream T Entertainment were 3.19 billion won (approximately $2.8 million) in 2013 but jumped to 6.17 billion (approximately $5.47 million) in 2014.

Music industry insiders consider first place wins on music shows not just for monetary reasons, but as contributors to a group’s dignity as singers and a determining factor in a longterm career as well.

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