The Staggering Cost of Debuting a K-Pop Idol Group

If you’re hoping to be a member of an idol group one day, you’re probably dreaming of the day you get noticed, because your song will be the one that everyone loves. But nowadays in Korea, things are a lot more complicated than that. The competition is so fierce that without solid investors, you will likely not even get a chance to make an appearance on TV. Here are some findings from recent reports that tells you just how much it costs to debut an idol group.

Training to Debut

According to Hana Financial, once you become a trainee, you take lessons in singing, acting, and in character building, and you will probably undergo some plastic surgery, not to mention that most companies will pay for your apartment and food. This is an investment spanning anywhere from a few months to ten years. JYP Entertainment spends around 700-900 million Korean won (approximately $598,700-769,700) annually on its trainees. Most companies have 20-30 trainees, so each company spends 25-30 million Korean won (approximately $21,400-25,700) per trainee. On average, idol groups take three years to debut, and each group has about five members, so each group costs 500-600 million Korean won (approximately $427,600-513,100) just to get a group to be ready debut.

Producing the Music

To actually debut a group, according to a report by Heungkuk Securities, getting three songs from a composer costs around 15 million Korean won (approximately $12,800), and another 12 million Korean won (approximately $10,300) to record it. The costs for a music video are steep as well. Adding up the filming, touch-ups, pictorials, costumes, and hair and makeup costs, idol groups need to spend about 150 million Korean won ($128,300), and a further 20 million Korean won (approximately $17,100) for other concept images for the album.

Promoting the Album

To stand on the stage, you need to pay about five million Korean won (approximately $4,300) for choreography, 10 million Korean won (approximately $8,600) for dancers, 170 million Korean won (approximately $145,400) for costumes (for a six-week promotion period for a total of 24 shows and five members), and 10 million Korean won (approximately $8,600) for hair and makeup. On top of that, marketing costs about 105 million Korean won (approximately $89,800), adding up to around 500 million Korean won ($427,600) to allow an idol group to promote their album for about six weeks.

And there are so many idol groups debuting these days (about 50 teams a year) that there is no guarantee that you will survive just because you debuted.

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