Highest Earning K-Pop Idols
A Korean entertainment agency can have many idol groups and solo artists in their company, but there are always groups that stand out from the rest. For example, JYP, SM, and YG are the top three agencies and give out the biggest salary to their idols. Groups 2PM, EXO, and BIGBANG are the main assets for their agencies.
How Much Do K-Pop Idols Earn Per Month?
Many people and fans out there must be very curious about how much K-pop idols earn per month, right? You might have thought that being an idol is one of the best jobs and will give you a super high income and make you rich. But, in reality, it is not always like that, especially for those who are from small companies and do not gain much popularity.
Even though many people who became idols wanted to pursue their dream as a singer or celebrity, some of them might have other goals, such as gaining a stable income for their living expenses. As we know, looking for a job these days is not that easy, especially when you come from the countryside or outside the capital city with an ordinary education degree. Nah, being an idol is one of the best solutions for them to earn money, although it takes years before you can debut as an idol.
There are some idols and former idols who have shared about their salary, such as Cao Lu from FIESTAR who revealed in a 2017 interview that at 31 years old and after 5 years in the industry, she was living off about US $450 a month (~S$607.40).
The former idol Henry Prince Mak from JJCC also revealed how much he made. His entertainment company kept 80% of the group’s earnings while the idols received 20% which was then divided by the seven members. After making calculations, Prince Mak concluded that he had made about US $1 to $2 per day, which he revealed in an interview with Sunday Night.
Well, that was from some idols and former idols who come from small companies and were not popular with the public so they had very small earnings per month. However, for some idols who come from big companies and are popular with the public, they get a super big and fantastic amount of money per month which you cannot even dream of. For example, for BTS who is extremely popular in South Korea and internationally, the amount of money they can earn per month might be more than millions of dollars.
SM Entertainment’s Artist Salary
SM Entertainment is known as one of the biggest Korean entertainment companies in South Korea. This fact, of course, makes many people curious about how much salary their artists get since most of them are very popular both in South Korea and internationally.
With the big amount of investment and promotion that SM Entertainment puts in their artists from their training period until debut, there must be a high return per artist. Like most Korean entertainment companies in South Korea, they have rules and agreements in the contracts with their artists where some or maybe most of the income that their artist gains will go to the company.
Well, thanks to the spread of information, the income division between SM Entertainment and their artists are known to be something like this:
Physical sales: Agency (95%), Artist (5%)
Physical sales renewed: Agency (90%), Artist (10%)
Events: Agency (60%), Artist (40%)
Overseas promotions: Agency (30%), Artist (70%)
From the information above, it looks kind of unfair, right? How come the artist only gets 5% from the profit of their physical sales? And, that 5% will be shared with the members of the group, making it even smaller.
Despite the unfair benefits and salary the artist gets from SM Entertainment, still, many people want to get into SM to train and debut. This is mostly because their artists are always famous and largely promoted, leading to an increased income.
Top 10 Highest-Earning K-Pop Male Groups
These days, as more people learn about the Korean Wave, K-pop idols are getting so much attention and love from many people and fans all around the world. This means that the popularity they have is getting bigger and bigger alongside an increase in projects and jobs. The more work they get, the more money and popularity they obtain.
You guys must be curious and want to know about how much they get and who has the highest earning among them, right? Well, here are the top 10 highest-earning K-pop male groups.
1. BigHit Entertainment – BTS
The group debuted in 2013 and has earned a lot of money since then. BigHit was in a lot of debt to try to make BTS debut, but it all paid off with the increasing popularity of BTS from year to year. 95% of BigHit’s revenue was contributed by BTS and merchandise sales reached 10 Million US dollars.
Also, with the popularity that BTS gets internationally after their official debut in America, BTS had a total worth of 3.6 billion US Dollars in 2020. The richest members are J-Hope and Suga, with approximately $15 million in their accounts.
2. SM Entertainment – EXO
From twelve members down to nine, EXO is still a big asset to SM Entertainment. They earn more than 13 million US Dollars yearly from concerts, albums, advertisements, and merchandise. From their concerts, EXO earned more than $64.5 million, and showcases they held in 30 countries earned $40 million.
According to the wealth record, updated last May 2020, the current net worth of EXO is approximately 1 Billion US dollars. Also, the solo activities that each member has increased their earnings.
3. SM Entertainment – TVXQ
Another legendary boy group from SM Entertainment is TVXQ. Before Super Junior, Yunho and Changmin were the main assets for the agency. They have earned $10.4 million a year from concerts, showcases, and albums. Concerts are the biggest income for them and the agency. TVXQ was in the top three K-pop groups that had the biggest concert tours with the biggest audience. The biggest was held in Japan.
TVXQ’s Japanese concert in 2013 titled Timed had earnings of $92.4 million with an audience of 850,000. The concert Three in 2014 had a total audience of 600,000 people for over 29 shows, and the concert With in 2015 had a total audience of 750,000 people for over 16 shows. TVXQ became the first non-Japanese artist (the fourth foreign artist) to hold 5 complete dome tours in Japan.
This proves that even though TVXQ only has 2 members now, their fans are still loyal to them, especially their Japanese fans. TVXQ is still the most popular K-pop group in Japan. They are indeed legendary!
4. YG Entertainment – BIGBANG
BIGBANG is included in the Forbes list of 100 best-paid celebrities. The US economic magazine reveals BIGBANG’s earnings are up to US $44 million a year. This number beat Maroon 5 who earned US $33.5 million in a year. T.O.P, the leader, did not even expect BIGBANG’s income to beat Maroon 5’s. Throughout 2015, BIGBANG stole public attention with the album [M] [A] [D] [E] whose total album sales reached 40 trillion won.
5. PLEDIS Entertainment – Seventeen
They became the main producers of money for PLEDIS since their 2015 debut, making up to 75% of PLEDIS’s income before they debuted the new girl group PRISTIN. With concerts in many countries, albums, and merchandise, they earn more than US $30 million a year. Seventeen has been criticized for calling fans a source of Seventeen income, but PLEDIS quickly solved the problem.
Seventeen is also successful in the Japanese market and gain a lot of endorsements, increasing their bank accounts.
6. SM Entertainment – Super Junior
Another legendary group from SM Entertainment that earns US $26.4 million a year, Super Junior. They earn more than $30 million from concerts, albums, and much more. ELF is always excited when they hear Super Junior is making a comeback, so they prepare their money to help Super Junior win the charts every week in music shows. It helps SM Entertainment collect lots of money from Super Junior. No wonder they’re SM Entertainment’s biggest asset.
As of 2020, based on the members who revealed their income, they may have a total of $70 million, with Siwon having $45 million.
7. JYP Entertainment – GOT7
GOT7 is more popular among their international fans which makes their earnings bigger, especially from their successful tours worldwide, as well as increases their album sales and endorsements.
Members of GOT7 also do solo activities and promotions in other countries which increases the amount of money they get. Based on a recent update, GOT7’s current net worth is $12 million.
8. JYP Entertainment – 2PM
2PM a boy group from JYP that debuted in 2008 and earns $27.3 million a year. 2PM’s most popular concerts in Japan have earned $1.3 million, excluding sales of merchandise.
9. Wollim Entertainment – INFINITE
INFINITE has always been a source of Wollim’s income. Since its debut, INFINITE has earned around $10 million from concerts and albums, and the members have earned around $700,000 from individual schedules. In 2012, 37.8% (approximately 40 billion won) was obtained from their schedule abroad. Agencies, local events, and concerts held by INFINITE generated 24.2% (25 billion won) of total earnings and about 490 thousand dollars from album sales. Meanwhile, the income from starring in ads is about 777 thousand dollars. Since 2012, INFINITE has grown rapidly, although INFINITE must continue with six members because Lee Howon (Hoya) left INFINITE in September.
10. YG Entertainment – iKON
iKON is a group from YG Entertainment. The group formed from the survival show Who Is Next from Team B and has earned more than 7.9 billion won a year since its debut in 2015. Their biggest income is from concerts in Japan, which involves audiences of up to 140,000 people. They have a career similar to their senior BIGBANG with concert tours in Japan.
1. YMC Entertainment – Wanna One
Wanna One will probably print history as the only new group to become not only popular immediately before debut, but also capable of earning 17 million US dollars in just 2 months. This boy group formed from Produce 101 Season 2 is indeed a fan of attention. Wanna One formally formed last June, collecting billions of won from advertisements, albums, concerts, and merchandise. The income from the eleven members of this group will probably outperform EXO and BTS’s income records.