Does Victon's eco-friendly decision mean no more K-pop albums in future?

Fans purchase hundreds of album copies for charting, photo cards and fansigns only to abandon them later


                            Does Victon's eco-friendly decision mean no more K-pop albums in future?
Following incidents like the discarded boxes of NCT albums, Victon hopes to reduce mass-buying physical copies (@VICTON1109, @jaehyun_l27/Twitter)

While K-pop fans love the merch put out like physical albums, lightsticks, clothing lines and more, the carbon footprint also happens to be increasing at an alarming rate. In order for perks like fansigns and meet and greets which are based on random selection, individual fans tend to buy hundreds of album copies and then throw them out later. We also have some PC (photo cards) collecting fans who simply take out the PCs to collect or sell them and throw out the albums. It doesn’t help the environment that companies also focus on physical album sales as a marker of success. But Victon has taken a different stance.

Even while the Western music industry focuses mostly on digital sales, the physical albums are mainly jewel case CDs or DVD jackets. However, a physical K-pop album consists of a CD, numerous goodies like stickers and bookmarks, a photo booklet, lyric booklet, posters, PCs, polaroids, mini-posters and more. One album only consists of one or two PCS and so the PC-collecting fans who stan a bigger number of groups like the 23-member NCT tend to buy more albums just for all the PCs. It doesn’t help that companies put out several PC versions of one member.

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Victon’s new album purchase strategy

In this age of digital streaming, a majority don’t even have a CD drive/player. However, due to the other perks, over 54.5 million copies of K-pop albums were sold simply in the first 50 weeks of 2021 according to Korea JoongAng. But people have often found them abandoned on the side of the road after their purpose is over. Last month, a fan found two boxes of NCT 2021’s ‘Universe’ album abandoned with all the PCs gone. And according to several environmental engineers, they cannot be recycled due to the use of plastic, paper and fabric. However, groups like Victon, Blackpink and Winner are taking steps to change that.



 

In December, YG shared that they would have eco-friendly packaging for Winner’s Mino, Treasure and Blackpink’s upcoming releases. Apart from the CD, they hope to minimize plastic so it is more biodegradable. But it is Victon that has shaken the industry with its eco-friendly decision. For their latest album ‘Chronograph’, they have allowed fans for a limited time to buy the digital album version and only receive the physical photo card at a discount. They will also be sending a digital copy of the album like the exclusive photos that an album photo booklet has.

These purchases will still allow fans all the perks like fansign entries and helping the album chart. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from people worldwide, many fans have taken it upon themselves to try and ask other K-pop agencies to adopt a similar method of releasing albums. But whether this means no more traditional physical albums with photo booklets, CDs and posters in the long run, only time can tell.

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