In 2016, the girl group market was stronger than ever. In the meantime, the generation change within the girl groups was very active this year too. Also, this year, Girls’ Generation and other top-tier girl groups have been inactive, leading to relatively new girl groups who are two years younger making a strong breakthrough. In this column, we’ll take a look at the digital and physical album sales of major girl groups in order to disclose the domestic girl group market in 2016.
*This review is based on the data from the start of January to the 1st week of December. Including sales of unit, solo and OST activities.
*This review is based on a total of 16 teams of girl groups ranked in the top 100 music charts or charts of the entire survey period. The 16 teams are TWICE, I.O.I, GFriend, Red Velvet, Apink, Mamamoo, AOA, Lovelyz, Oh My Girl, Gugudan, EXID, Wonder Girls, BLACKPINK, Sistar, and Produce 101 (Pick Me).
The above graph is a graphical representation of the digital sales revenue of major Korean girl groups in 2016. It shows that GFriend and TWICE are closely competing in this category. It’s expected that TWICE’s “CHEER UP” will be No.1 and GFriend’s “Rough” will be at No.2 on the upcoming 2016 annual chart.
The graph above compares the digital sales of TWICE and GFriend. TWICE’s “CHEER UP” was released three months later than GFriend’s “Rough”, but in the third week of October, “CHEER UP” overtook the accumulated sales of “Rough”. Likewise, TWICE’s “Like OOH-AHH” dominated over Gfriend’s “Me Gustas Tu”.
However, because TWICE’s “TT” was released at the end of October, it seems like there was not enough time to catch up with the digital sales of GFriend’s “Navillera” which was released in July. If the release date of “TT” was about a month or so earlier having the similar initial monthly music sales of TWICE’s “TT”, then TWICE would have been 1st on the girl group digital sales rankings.
Mamamoo’s “I Miss You” was released in January 1st and was ranked 8th on the weekly charts. “You’re the Best” was released on February, ranked 1st, and on November, “Memory” was released and was ranked 2nd. Their sales have greatly improved, and this year, Mamamoo is ranked 3rd. In 2015, they were 9th.
I.O.I’s “DREAM GIRS” was released in May, and it was ranked 9th on the weekly chart, and “Whatta Man” was released on August, and was ranked 2nd, and then “Very Very Very” was released on October, ranking 1st, boosting them up to 4th place.
BLACKPINK debuted in August, with “Whistle” and for two consecutive weeks it was first on the weekly charts. In November, “Playing With fire” was released and it was ranked third, putting BLACKPINK in 5th place in total.
Red Velvet released “One of These Nights” in March, and it was ranked 10th in weekly charts. In September, they released “Russian Roulette” which ranked 2nd, putting them in total of 6th place.
In 2015, these girl groups – EXID (2nd), AOA (3rd), SISTAR (4th), and Apink (5th), were ranked high in 2015. However in 2016, they were ranked low, in contrast to the new girl groups.
The graph above is a graphical representation of the physical album sales volume of major girl groups. TWICE coaster: LANE 1, “PAGE TWO,” as well as “THE STORY BEGINS” which was released in 2015, sold 44 million copies this year. This is an unusual record, as it exceeds the sales of Girls’ Generation, which was ranked number one in group music sales in 2015.
I.O.I is ranked No.2 with over 23 million album sales including 1st Mini Album “Chrysalis”, “Whatta Man”, “Miss me?”.
Red Velvet is ranked 3rd with “The Red – The 1st Album” and “Russian Roulette – The 3rd Mini Album” with 12 million album sales.
GFriend’s 3rd Mini Album “SNOWFLAKE” and The 1st Album “LOL” have sold 11 million copies, while Mamamoo’s “Melting” and “Memory” with 9.5 million copies sold, are 4th and 5th respectively.
Overall, the results of the girl group album sales ranking is similar to that of the music digital sales. APink ranked second and AOA was fifth place in album sales category in 2015, dropped this year to sixth and eighth places, respectively. They were down three to four rankings in 2016, and the breakthrough of new girl groups was produced.
Since the album sales volume is used as an index for estimating the number of active fans of each girl group, the above is closely related to the size of each girl group’s fandom.
The above graphic shows the result of summing the physical album and digital sales with a ratio of 50:50. (The sum method is borrowed from TV music ranking programs, e.g., The girl group who’s ranked 1st gets 50 points and if the sales gap widens, the lower the scores they get.
TWICE with 98.7 points took the top spot by combining their physical album and music sales. As stated on the review above, the digital sales category was topped by GFriend, however, due to TWICE overwhelming physical album sales, TWICE eventually overtook first place.
In the case of GFriend, they were ranked 1st in digital sales and ranked 4th in album sales putting them in 2nd place with a total of 63.3 points. GFriend, was in 9th place in girl group rankings of 2015.
I.O.I takes 3rd place with 55.7 points in total. (26.7 points on album sales, and 29 points on digital sales.)
Mamamoo finishes with 53.3 points in total. They were ranked 3rd in album sales and was ranked 4th in total.
BLACKPINK debuted in August this year, and they were ranked 6th in the overall ranking. If a full album is released next year, it is expected that they will be able to top the list of the combined digital and album sales ranking.
Overall, the fact that many girl groups, including TWICE, has only debuted for two years, and still they have overwhelming amount of sales, shows that girl groups are progressing very fast.
So far, we have reviewed the 2016 Girl Group market based on digital and album sales data. Among them one of the most anticipated groups in 2017 is Mamamoo whose digital and album sales have grown. It is also expected that TWICE and GFriend will continue to compete each other for top place next year.