Yoo Sung Won is the author of “Girl Group Economics”, a book exploring the business side of K-Pop. A snippet of his book has been shared answering why girl groups appear on music shows like Music Bank despite low and stagnant viewership ratings.
First, he outlines how expensive it is for girl groups to appear on these shows. Many fans think that larger groups are compensated for appearing on these shows but that is not the case.
“They said it could cost up to $10,000 per episode to be on a broadcasting stage once. Food cost, stage costumes, production, stylist fees, car, gas and many other expenses. The oufits need to be unique because networks don’t want idols wearing the same outfit on other shows. The compensation is only $200-$300 which barely covers transportation”
So idols barely get any compensation for coming on these shows and they cost a lot. Money isn’t the issue though according to Yoo Sung Won, the issue is the low viewership ratings of these music shows.
“The hesitation for appearing in these weekly shows is the viewership percentage. KBS Music Bank only averages less than 1% which is a massive drop-off since the early days when viewership was between 20%-30%”
So why do idols come on these shows? They are very expensive and they have very low viewership numbers compared to variety shows which are very popular.
“It’s the butterfly effect. The music shows create a butterfly effect for those who appear. If the group appears on these programs, their event appearance fees increase by three or four times. Girl groups who get $2000 for appearing at events can make $10,000 for an event after appearing on a music show”
Yoo Sung Won then posed a question to several agencies, “What has a better butterfly effect, placing first on a music show or appearing on a popular variety show like 2 days and 1 night?”. The agencies had a unanimous answer.
“Achieving number one on a music show has enormous impact”
“No matter how many times they appear on variety shows, if they don’t go on music shows they don’t last”
“After winning a music show, event fees for the group can increase up to ten times”
So even though appearing on music shows isn’t profitable in the short term, the exposure causes a “butterfly effect” which makes the groups make much more money in the long term.