During the last two decades, the K-pop entertainment market was dominated by the “Big 3” K-pop entertainment agencies: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. SM Entertainment has traditionally taken the lead in size, number of artists, and revenue. SM is also regarded as having led the proliferation of the K-pop phenomenon around the world with prominent K-pop artists such as Girls’ Generation, Exo, and Red Velvet. Singer BoA and boyband TVXQ became the first K-pop idols to successfully break into the Japanese market. YG Entertainment’s K-pop groups are Big Bang, Winner, iKon, and Blackpink, while JYP Entertainment manages 2PM, JJ Project, Twice, and many more.
The K-pop dominance of the Big 3, which has remained unchanged for nearly two decades, has recently expanded to the ‘’Big 4’’, with the arrival of Big Hit Entertainment. Thanks to its artist BTS, Big Hit saw the highest operating profits among the Big 4. BTS is a K-pop group of seven young Korean men, first formed in 2013, and are widely considered the most popular K-pop artists. They regularly break their own records in album sales and YouTube viewership. BTS are still gaining fans around the world, and these fans formed the “ARMY”. The continuous growth of their fandom is a major driving force behind BTS’ record-setting. The BTS concerts held in Seoul in 2019 were estimated to have generated almost one trillion South Korean won as economic value to the country and attracted 187 thousand foreign visitors to Korea.
As users can easily access music content online, via platforms such as YouTube and Spotify, more and more people are enjoying Korean music content everywhere. Accordingly, the amount of money spent per month on K-pop content over the world has doubled and stood at 9.2 U.S. dollars per person in 2019. People in the United Arab Emirates particularly spent the highest amount of money on K-pop content; an average of 36.4 U.S. dollars per month which is far higher than in other countries. On the other hand, an average of 14.1 hours were spent monthly watching K-pop content across the world. Viewers in Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam and Bangkok in Thailand were watching Korean pop music videos more than people in Seoul.