The two physical album sales charts that Kpop fans usually consult are Hanteo and Gaon (Hanteo Information System and Gaon Music Chart). These two charts are different in that Hanteo counts the number of sales of each album from Hanteo-certified stores, while Gaon counts the number of shipments of an album as reported by the record distributors. Hanteo and Gaon are the two most respected sales charts for physical album sales in Korea.
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Hanteo: Real-time physical album sales
One of the biggest differences between Hanteo and Gaon is that Hanteo keeps track of physical album sales in real time. Hanteo real-time sales are used by weekly music shows as one of many factors that determine their weekly winner. Therefore, Hanteo’s numbers are more important immediately after the release of a new album, since they contribute to weekly music show awards. Hanteo is a real-time chart that updates sales numbers as it obtains data from Hanteo-certified stores, which report the sales numbers of each album to Hanteo every day. Hanteo’s numbers are not total sales, however, as Hanteo only counts the sales from Hanteo-certified stores. If a store is not a Hanteo affiliate, their sales do not add to Hanteo’s chart. Hanteo’s chart is still widely referenced in Kpop because though Hanteo’s sales numbers are not the total number of sales of an album, Hanteo has many affiliated stores that report to them, and is a decent point of reference to assess the sales performance of an album, especially during the first few weeks of its release.
Hanteo first-day and first-week sales records
The Kpop industry is very competitive as idol groups compete to be the one who sells the most physical albums in the first twenty-four hour of album release, and the one who sells the most in the first week of album release. Currently, the highest first-day sale according to Hanteo’s numbers is EXO’s third album EX’ACT, which sold 146,082 copies in the first twenty-four hours of its release, on June 9, 2016. The record of the highest first-week sale according to Hanteo’s numbers also goes to EXO, who sold 522,372 copies of their third album EX’ACT in the first seven days of its release, from June 9 to June 15, 2016.
Gaon: Number of shipments from distributors minus the number returned by stores
For Gaon’s chart, the number of albums shipped is counted. Gaon does not keep track of the number of albums actually sold from stores. The distributors of the albums report to Gaon the number of albums shipped out for sale in Korean stores and selected international stores. Gaon does not include the licensed versions produced and sold in foreign countries. If the album is in high demand, the company will ship more to the stores to be sold, and if not, less will be shipped, some will be returned, in which case Gaon would adjust the number back down. Gaon’s number is therefore always higher than Hanteo’s, as it is impossible to sell more albums than the amount shipped. Gaon’s numbers better reflect overall sales in the long run by counting shipments from distributors minus the returns from stores.
Differences Between Hanteo and Gaon
Hanteo and Gaon are two of the most respected physical sales charts in South Korea. Gaon is launched in 2010 to function as a national record chart of South Korea, similar to the Billboard charts in U.S.A. So besides physical album sales, Gaon also have other charts such as digital chart, social chart, streaming chart, download chart, and more.
Since Gaon’s numbers are not released in real time, they are mostly used for the year-end awards such as the Golden Disk Awards. During promotion time, Hanteo’s numbers are important for weekly music show awards. After the promotion period is over, Gaon’s numbers become an important factor that determines the nominations and winners at year-end award shows.
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