Report: Top 1% of singers average $3.4 million a year (or: the other 99% average $15k) + other entertainment industry data

Kang Jun Hyun of the Democratic Party and the National Assembly’s Planning & Finance Committee has revealed a report on the income status of entertainers from 2017-21 based on National Tax Service data.

The headlines that came from the report were centered around the fact that the top singers made more than the top actors on average, and that the incomes of the top singers have increased a lot in recent years. That’s all true, though it wasn’t necessarily the most interesting part of the report.


Anyway, the 7,720 singers who declared income in 2021 made ~$380 million for an average of ~$49k. However, the 77 singers who made up the top 1% of the income bracket made ~$262 million for an average of ~$3.4 million. Of course, that means the other 7,643 singers made ~$118 million for a paltry average of $15k. Back in 2017, that number for the top 1% was ~$2.3 million, but hit a pandemic low of ~$1.3 million in 2020.

Meanwhile, the 16,935 actors made ~$580 million in 2021 for an average of ~$34k. Similarly to the singers, the 160 actors in the top 1% made ~$282 million for an average of ~$1.8 million. Thus, the other 16,755 actors in the 99% made ~$292 million for an average of ~$17k.

Models were another profession looked at, and 9,356 models earned ~$79 million for an average of ~$8.4k in 2021. The 95 models in the top 1% made ~$32 million of that for ~$337k on average. That left ~$47 million for the other 9,261 models, who made an average of ~$5k.

The income of YouTubers and “one-creator parties” (influencers, basically) was also of note as a particularly fast-growing market in the industry, and Han Byeong Do from the same party and committee as the other politician revealed that they made a whopping ~$650 million in 2021, a 10 times increase compared to just two years ago. Also increasing was the amount of individuals claiming the profession, from 2,776 in 2019 to 34,219 in 2021 for an average income of ~$19k. There were 337 of them in the top 1% who brought home ~$177 million for an average of ~$523k, making for a lucrative career if you can get it. That meant the other 33,882 made ~$473 million for a ~$14k average, which is comparatively decent.


A few things to consider about the data are: 1) Tours really started to kick back into gear in 2022, so the artists did likely make even more in the subsequent years. 2) These are those who had income, which presumably excludes trainees and what not, so the median income of most of these jobs is probably close to $0. 3) While the media will hype how much the celebrities made, it’s important to remember profits of the companies have gone through the roof in recent years as well.

Anyway, thought this was interesting insight into the lay of the financial land in recent years, including having the harsh realities of the entertainment industry laid out in raw numbers.


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