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BabyMonster steps into YG’s Blackpink vacuum

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A scene from BabyMonster's music video ″Sheesh″ revealed on April 1. [YG ENTERTAINMENT]
A scene from BabyMonster’s music video ″Sheesh″ revealed on April 1. [YG ENTERTAINMENT]

Rookie girl group BabyMonster’s record-breaking sales and live singing performances are easing concerns surrounding YG Entertainment’s heavy reliance on Blackpink.

Analysts predict that BabyMonster and boy band Treasure could gradually improve the profitability of the K-pop agency, although a short term downfall is inevitable given that no world tour is scheduled with Blackpink this year.

Lee Hyun-ji, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities, forecast that the activities from BabyMonster and Treasure will impact YG Entertainment’s earnings for the second quarter.

BabyMonster’s EP “BABYMONS7ER” achieved the highest weekly sales for a debut album or EP by a girl group, even surpassing the record set by fellow newcomer ILLIT in March. A total of 401,287 copies of the EP were sold from April 1 to 7, according to music industry tracker Hanteo chart.

“Given that BabyMonster’s debut EP achieved record-high figures and Treasure is expected to gather 450,000 fans while on a world tour until June, both artists position themselves as crucial assets for YG Entertainment,” Lee said. “However, as BabyMonster did not pursue any activities [in the first quarter] except for releasing digital singles, the K-pop agency’s earnings for January to March may be stagnant, as well as its target stock price.”

On the premise that Blackpink returns to the K-pop scene with a world tour in the first half of 2025, Lee lowered the target stock price by 21.5 percent to 62,000 won ($44.79).

After BabyMonster appeared on local broadcasters’ music shows, the group’s songs, including its lead track “Sheesh”, continue to climb music streaming charts. The seven-member group also claims a solid fandom abroad based on its record-breaking sales, an important factor for future successful world tours.

“The record-breaking debut album sales are believed to be the result of preemptively securing a core fandom in Asia through the group’s pre-debut program,” NH Investment & Securities analyst Lee Hwa-jeong said. “More than half of the first-week sales were from China and Japan, and the majority of bulk purchases for BabyMonster’s pop-up store were by foreigners, further supporting this trend.”

Lee also contended that the uncertainty stemming from YG artists’ low frequency of activities is starting to ease, noting that BabyMonster plans to release at least one new album this year. The group is also slated to go on its first Asia tour in five cities — Tokyo, Jakarta, Singapore, Taipei and Bangkok — this year.

Oh Ji-woo, an analyst at eBest Investment & Securities, proposed a target stock price of 60,000 won. Oh projects that the agency’s operating profit for the January-March period will fall 79 percent on year to 7.6 billion won, while revenue will decrease 36.3 percent to 100.3 billion won.

“YG’s growth is expected to be stalled because there were no artist activities in the first quarter,” Oh said.

The rookie girl group, who debuted last November, had a rocky start after one of its members, Ahyeon, was unable to join the group’s debut due to health issues. Although the group released its debut single “Batter Up” and a digital single “Stuck in the Middle” in February, the group’s activities were up in the air for the last four months, with analysts uncertain if the rookie girl group could fill in the shoes of its predecessor Blackpink.

With the release of “BABYMONS7ER,” however, the girl group became more active by making TV appearances and announcing festival schedules. The group’s live performances have helped the members gain traction as they went viral online — and they’re being frequently compared to those of fellow girl groups Le Sserafim and ILLIT.

“Ahyeon’s live version of ‘Dangerously’ on the variety show ‘Men on a Mission’ is absolutely crazy,” said one anonymous online post. “I’m replaying the moment endlessly.”

Another comment wrote, “HYBE is making BabyMonster stand out even more,” referring to mixed reviews on Le Sserafim’s live performances during its Coachella debut last week. HYBE is Le Sserafim’s agency. The girl group has received mediocre critic responses, while online viewers largely criticized the group’s vocal performances.

BY LEE JAE-LIM [lee.jaelim@joongang.co.kr]

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