BTS Fever and Big Hit Entertainment: Does K-pop Band BTS Beat Other Global Musicians?

Fueled by BTS’ ‘Dynamite’, which has received over 100 million Youtube views within 24 hours, the agency’s IPO grabbed everyone’s attention. So how big is BTS compared to other global musicians and how much is the agency actually worth?
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Korean pop music (K-pop) has become one of the biggest global phenomena and has allowed South Korean culture to become a major driver of global culture. BTS, the most popular K-pop band in the world at this moment, is at the heart of this rise, with the newly released song ‘Dynamite’ debuting at No.1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 as well as its music video setting the record as the first Youtube video to surpass 100 million views within 24 hours. Riding on the success of BTS, Big Hit Entertainment, the management agency of BTS, has priced its initial public offering (IPO) at 4.8 trillion won ($4.1 billion). However, is BTS really as big as other global musicians? We’ve analyzed social media platforms such as Youtube, Spotify and Instagram in order to compare BTS to other top 50 global musicians.

Key findings

  • BTS' Youtube subscribers, most-viewed video viewer number, streaming number and Instagram followers are as high as other musicians listed on Billboard Top 30 chart
  • After debuting at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 as well becoming the fastest MV to surpass 100 million views within 24 hours, BTS' newly released song 'Dynamite' is maintaining a meaningfully higher daily viewership on Youtube than than other top musicians' new songs
  • Big Hit Entertainment's valuation is more than the combined value of the big 3 entertainment firms in Korea (SM, JYP, YG), and could be overvalued compared to even Warner Music Group, a global music industry powerhouse behind top stars like Cardi B, Ed Sheehan and Bruno Mars

Social Media: BTS is Already Top 30 Global Musician

The days when music consumers had to buy physical albums ended in the 20th century with the advent of the Internet. Instead of rushing into the store to buy CDs, people listen to music on Spotify, watch music videos on Youtube and follow musicians on social media. Such transition in music consumption suggests Spotify streamers, Youtube viewers and social media followers have become the most significant indicators measuring a musician’s fame. So how big is BTS compared to other top global musicians? We’ve analyzed publicly available data on 50 top-selling musicians to determine which musician has the most popularity and fame. Of all 50 musicians we analyzed, BTS stands out as one of the top 30 musicians in the world, and even had the 9th highest Youtube subscribers in our study.

ArtistYoutube SubscribersYoutube Most-viewed (song)Spotify streaming numberInstagram FollowersTotal Ranking
Justin Bieber12 (Sorry)341
Ed Sheeran41 (Shape of You)4172
Ariana Grande612 (Side to Side)613
Taylor Swift75 (Shake It Off)1654
Katy Perry84 (Roar)1985
Selena Gomez1429 (The Heart Wants What It Wants)1326
Marshmello311 (Alone)7207
Maroon 5123 (Sugar)12268
Rihanna1016 (Diamonds)1799
Eminem59 (Love The Way You Lie)181910
Beyonce1724 (Halo)20311
Drake1514 (Hotline Bling)21212
Nicki Minaj1827 (Anaconda)10713
Blackpink218 (DDU-DU DDU-DU)262114
Billie Eilish1126 (Bad Guy)151315
Adele166 (Hello)281516
The Weeknd2013 (Starboy)12217
Jennifer Lopez2815 (On The Floor)30618
Bruno Mars1310 (The Lazy Song)222419
Cardi B2721 (I Like It)51020
BTS923 (DNA)251821
The Chainsmokers197 (Closer)242722
Calvin Harris258 (This Is What You Came For)142523
Chris Brown2125 (Loyal)211124
Lady Gaga2419 (Bad Romance)91425
Post Malone2220 (Congratulations)112326
Travis Scott3030 (SICKO MODE)81627
Linkin Park2617 (Numb)292828
Queen2922 (Bohemian Rhapsody)233029
Michael Jackson2328 (Billie Jean)272930

However, while BTS recently rose to prominence with their new song "Dynamite", other top global musicians such as Ed Sheehan, Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande still stand out in all categories, from most-viewed Youtube video to Instagram follower. Even BLACKPINK, another popular K-pop band, ranks at 14th which is slightly higher than BTS. All things considered, K-pop artists including BTS and BLACKPINK are still lagging behind other top musicians which may indicate that their most recent achievements might not have been fully reflected yet. Still, they rank within the top 30 list despite their shorter careers, suggesting K-pop still has more potential to grow more than ever.

BTS’s ‘Dynamite’ Ranked No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100

Indeed, the ranking above does not fully capture the most recent trends where K-pop artists have just started to become mainstream globally. For instance, the most-viewed Youtube video of BTS that we used in our ranking was "DNA", not "Dynamite.". In order to make the ranking more aligned with the most recent trends, we’ve calculated the daily viewer number of the most recent Youtube music videos. As a result, BTS’ ‘Dynamite’ ranked first with over 10 million daily views and BLACKPINK’s ‘Ice Cream’ ranks second with 8 million daily views. In comparison, Cardi B’s ‘WAP’, which maintained its dominance over the Billboard charts for over a month since its release, had less than 50% of ‘Dynamite’s’ daily viewers. Overall, the popularity of K-pop artists on social platforms turned out to be 2-3x higher than other global musicians, and this proves that the ranking above does not completely cover the most recent records of K-pop songs.

Youtube daily viewer

We’ve also analyzed the daily streaming number of the songs listed on Spotify’s Top 200 chart. The daily streaming number of Cardi B’s ‘WAP’ ranked first with 5 million daily streams, BTS’ ‘Dynamite’ ranks second with 3.94 million streams and Justin Bieber’s ‘Holy’ ranks third with 3.39million streams, which indicates BTS has become as phenomenal as other great musicians. In addition, BLACKPINK’s ‘Ice Cream’ hit 1.98 million daily streams, marking the highest position ever by a K-pop girl group. However, Spotify stream figures likely underestimate K-pop artists's audience since the service is not mainstream in Asian countries, especially in Korea, where a significant portion of their fanbase exists.

Spotify streaming number

BTS and Big Hit Entertainment: How Big Will It Be?

BTS’ overseas success not only has allowed K-pop to become a part of mainstream culture but also has created tremendous economic impact. In fact, the Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) reported that BTS generates an estimated amount of 4 trillion won ($3.54 billion) of economic value to South Korea per year and predicted that BTS’ 10-year economic impact will reach 56.2 trillion won. Riding on the success of BTS, Big Hit generated a record 587.2 billion won (roughly $507.9 million) in revenue last year, which increased by 7 times since 2016, becoming the 2nd biggest entertainment company in Korea in terms of sales. On October 15, the company will launch its IPO, valuing the company at 4.8 trillion won ($4.1 billion). Yet, there are some concerns that the company may be overvalued because Big Hit's business is heavily dependent on BTS. In order to evaluate the actual value of the company, we’ve analyzed financial statements of music labels in Korea as well as in the US.

Financial Statements of Music Labels in Korea and the US

($mn)Warner Music GroupBig HitSMJYPYG
Market Cap14,4484,0426611,083786
2019 Revnue4,509489548130220
Growth Rate0.76%95%7%25%-2%
($)

First, Big Hit's valuation is more than the combined value of SM, JYP, YG, the country's top 3 entertainment companies. Of course, Big Hit has been growing considerably faster than its peers; however, that the label relies heavily on 1 K-pop idol group should be a huge concern for investors. For instance, the average life span of K-pop idol groups is known to be only 5 to 10 years, often fading in popularity due to competition, scandals or military service. Indeed, 2 of the 7 BTS members are nearing their mandatory military service, which suggests the group may not be able to perform as a complete team for much longer. Furthermore, Big Hit Entertainment's valuation seems unrealistic when compared to Warner Music Group (WMG), the third largest in the global music industry. Big Hit’s revenue is about 10% of WMG’s, but its valuation is about 30% of WMG’s. This contrast is even more concerning when considering the fact that WMG has a number of top musicians such as Cardi B, Ed Sheehan and Bruno Mars, while Big Hit mostly relies on BTS and has no other global musicians. In fact, there are some views that the company seems to be overvalued and it might not be able to maintain the estimated market cap unless it diversifies its business structure.

Methodology

We used publicly available data of 50 top-selling musicians based on their physical/digital album sales, and statistis from platforms like Youtube, Spotify and Instagram. . In order to see which artist has the most popularity, we gathered data of each musician’s Youtube subscriber number, most-viewed video viewer number, Spotify streaming number and Instagram follower number.

ArtistYoutube Subscribers (mn)Youtube Most-viewed (song)Spotify streaming numberInstagram Followers (mn)
1Justin Bieber57.23,344,152,168 (Sorry)54,959,128148
2Ariana Grande43.31,804,804,410 (Side to Side)50,435,169203
3Ed Sheeran45.64,997,696,657 (Shape of You)51,374,60632
4Taylor Swift39.92,968,489,562 (Shake It Off)40,288,776140
5Katy Perry38.63,182,514,641 (Roar)35,510,726107
6Selena Gomez26.8692,509,088 (The Heart Wants What It Wants)43,714,366194
7Marshmello48.71,835,754,102(Alone)49,069,91630
8Rihanna35.41,571,349,249 (Diamonds)38,994,53688
9Beyonce21.71,065,706,949 (Halo)34,487,365155
10Drake22.81,663,253,262 (Hotline Bling)61,906,39672
11Maroon 5323,290,473,710 (Sugar)43,769,0588
12Eminem44.52,067,536,542 (Love The Way You Lie)35,938,91931
13Nicki Minaj21.5958,940,958 (Anaconda)44,273,954123
14Billie Eilish34974,931,000 (bad guy)41,548,45767
15Blackpink48.81,333,653,708 (DDU-DU-DDU-DU)27,399,28930
16The Weeknd20.51,753,169,676 (Starboy)63,946,39025
17Jennifer Lopez13.41,608,795,739 (On The Floor)16,453,245132
18Cardi B14.71,230,954,661 (I Like It)50,774,96876
19Adele22.22,715,283,782 (Hello)22,662,38639
20Bruno Mars28.21,962,298,773 (The Lazy Song)33,206,05022
21BTS37.31,096,175,032 (DNA)31,143,92031.1
22Calvin Harris17.52,388,829,906 (This Is What You Came For)41,829,92510
23Chris Brown20.11,008,987,442 (Loyal)34,444,36572
24The Chainsmokers20.92,552,684,485 (Closer)31,403,9097
25Lady Gaga18.31,272,438,740 (Bad Romance)44,671,48844
26Post Malone19.81,254,752,114 (Congratulations)44,052,14723
27Travis Scott12.4680,227,273 (SICKO MODE)45,390,45134
28Justin Timberlake8.941,270,171,693 (Can't Stop The Feeling)21,362,56859
29DJ Khaled10.21,453,202,115 (I'm The One)31,666,16022
30Tyga9.511,041,762,254 (Taste)37,192,83321
31Queen13.21,208,558,964 (Bohemian Rhapsody)32,920,3964
32Linkin Park16.81,459,335,529 (Numb)19,316,6446
33Michael Jackson18.7843,549,520 (Billie Jean)23,569,1585
34Britney Spears7.86533,501,817 (Baby One More Time)16,053,79227
35Whitney Houston5.24991,279,529 (I Will Always Love You)20,226,9491
36AC/DC6.61793,624,423 (Thunderstruck)19,894,4593
37Kanye West6.41360,785,341 (Stronger)31,974,211N/A
38Metallica6.54835,532,451 (Nothing Else Matters)16,086,2707
39Mariah Carey6.2638,796,832 (All I Want For Christmas Is You)14,225,71410
40The Beatles4.8297,181,834 (Don't Let Me Down)22,986,623N/A
41Madonna4.28347,041,528 (La Isla Bonita)13,306,23916
42Jonas Brothers4.9285,140,630 (Sucker)20,220,889N/A
43Elton John1.93329,148,054 (Sacrifice)23,859,701N/A
44Pink Floyd2.28503,072,921 (Another Brick In The Wall)13,625,242N/A
45The Rolling Stones2.1350,096,262 (Anybody Seen My Baby)19,820,498N/A
46Celine Dion4.48208,091,901 (I'm Alive)9,656,007N/A
47Elvis Presley1.75241,370,476 (Can't Help Falling In Love)12,364,385N/A
48Billy Joel1.03153,744,999 (Piano Man)14,447,654N/A
49Eagles0.272571,132,833 (Hotel California)13,993,474N/A
50George Strait0.64185,244,301 (Remember When)4,086,052N/A

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