BTS notch sixth No. 1 album on Billboard 200 chart with Proof

Proof is BTS' sixth album to top the Billboard chart. PHOTO: BTS / FACEBOOK

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - On June 10, K-pop powerhouse BTS released a three-disc compilation album, Proof.

It was sure to be a hit, and this week it opens at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, with the equivalent of 314,000 sales in the United States, according to the tracking service Luminate.

It is the group's sixth album to top the Billboard chart.

But BTS' importance to Hybe, the South Korean entertainment company behind the group, was underscored when BTS announced four days later that they were taking a break to let their seven members focus on solo projects.

The next day, Hybe's stock price dropped 28 per cent, trimming US$1.7 billion (S$2.4 billion) market value from the company; since then the share price has improved only slightly.

BTS account for nearly one-third of Hybe's sales in the US, according to company disclosures, and as recently as 2020, nearly 90 per cent of Hybe's revenues were related to BTS and their music.

That was before Hybe bought Ithaca Holdings, the company led by American music executive Scooter Braun, the manager of singers Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, in a deal that was reported be worth as much as US$1 billion.

But BTS' effect is not limited to their management company's account books.

Last month, the group spoke at the White House against anti-Asian hate crimes, and was hosted by US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.

Fans worldwide, who act as indomitable cheerleaders under the collective name Army, swarmed the social media to commiserate and discuss the announcement.

The success of Proof followed a marketing playbook that has become standard for K-pop groups, with fans rushing to buy collectible releases in physical formats.

Of the 314,000 "equivalent" sales for the album - a figure that incorporates physical sales, downloads and streams - 259,000 were for CD versions sold for as high as US$70. The 48-track CD iteration includes 13 songs not available for streaming or download.

In addition to the CD sales, the album sold 6,500 copies as digital downloads and had 53 million streams.

Also this week, Puerto Rican singer-rapper Bad Bunny's Un Verano Sin Ti falls to No. 2 and English singer Harry Styles' Harry's House is No. 3.

American rapper Post Malone's new Twelve Carat Toothache drops two spots to No. 4 in its second week out, and American rapper Future's I Never Liked You is No. 5.

Next week, Canadian rapper Drake's surprise new LP, Honestly, Nevermind, released on Friday, is likely to open at No. 1.

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