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BTS And K-pop Are Driving A Resurgence In The CD

Over recent years, K-pop has had an increasingly influential role in the music industry, even in western markets. Reflecting the open internet culture, music from South Korea has cracked the U.S. and European markets in a way it never could before. It also seems K-pop is having a wider impact on the music industry as a whole by helping to revive physical music formats.

Few industries have been more impacted by the online revolution than the music industry, which has been utterly transformed in the digital age. Other industries felt the changes, such as gaming.

However, people will use a website like and visit a physical casino in equal measure.

For music it was different, digital provided instant access to content and streaming allows users to have any song, by any artist, whenever they want. In the face of the online world, the physical format CD simply faded away, and with it went the record and music stores. In recent years, vinyl has become increasingly popular as a niche, and K-pop is also helping to spur new life into the CD.

In terms of convenience, the CD (Compact Disc) was always a wonderful technology. It was small (it’s in the name) and allowed companies to mass-produce more efficiently than vinyl. However, it was also an unsexy format and not as elegant or romantic as good old-fashioned vinyl. So, while traditional vinyl records have enjoyed a resurgence, the humble CD seemed to be gone forever.

That was until the K-pop boom in recent years. In South Korea, CD sales have been substantially increasing since 2014, as have sales of cassette tapes. During 2017, combines sales for the top 400 records totalled 16.93 million physical copies. This figure represented a sizeable 56.6 per cent increase year-on-year, according to data from the Korea Music Content Association.

In 2018, the number of physical sales jumped again, this time to 22.82 million. In 2019 until the end of October, sales have already reached 20.97 million copies and will likely marginally surpass 2018’s numbers overall.

K-pop has driven this resurgence as fandom surrounding the genre is typically loyal and dedicated. In other words, a fan of a K-pop artist is likely to want a physical representation of their fandom and will collect physical copies of music.

BTS is a prime example of the power of K-pop. The boyband is enjoying huge success in South Korea and globally and is a bona fide music phenomenon. In Korea, the latest BTS album (Map of the Soul: Persona) has sold over 3 million copies to date and is the chief contributor to the ongoing resurgence in physical formats.

About the author

Maria Taylor is a content marketing expert & has contributed on several blogs online. She loves to write for blogs & asks that you feel free to connect with her on Twitter & Linkedin.