Producing a K-pop group costs a pretty penny – in fact, at least $1.3 million. Reportedly, of the approximately 300 groups that prepare to debut each year, only 50 truly debut. One trainee alone costs a company nearly $27,000 per month. Why the high-risk investment? When done right, K-pop is lucrative. In Forbes’ “The 30 Highest-Paid Celebrities Under 30 in 2016” list, YG Entertainment’s powerhouse group BIGBANG landed at number 13 with $44 million.

BIGBANG is found on the list in between American actress Jennifer Lawrence (No. 12, $46 million) and Irish pro-golfer Rory McIlroy (No. 14, $42.5 million). The quintet may have beat the likes of Canadian musician Drake (No. 17, $38 million), but, like the other 28 celebrities on the list, they all have a long way to go if they want to catch up to American singer Taylor Swift (No. 1, $170 million).

The five members – G-Dragon (28), T.O.P (29), Taeyang (28), Daesung (27), and Seungri (25) – are the only Korean act on this list. Notably, they were also the first Korean act to make Forbes’ 100 highest-paid celebrities in the world list at number 54 in July. In the world of high-grossing boy bands, the South Korean idols are third behind One Direction and the Backstreet Boys – not bad company.

Expect their income to rise even more as the group is slated to make a comeback in December.

What current K-pop acts do you think are on track to one day reach the level of BIGBANG?

Cover photo cr: Unicef/YG

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