fly to high

It’s your money, not love, that matters
June 8, 2010, 10:21 am
Filed under: Jpop, Opinion

No matter what your favorite idols say about your love and devotion, your strongest contribution to them continues to be your wallet. Whether you’re purchasing their records or their concert tickets, it’s your dollars and yen that make the real difference.

It’s something everyone knows but doesn’t want to admit. The record companies are especially adroit at sidestepping the implication of using the fans for their money.  Avex often presses multiple copies of the same release with the exact same musical content, just different covers – just limited editions masquerading as “treats” for fans. Johnny’s presses multiple versions and emphasizes that their groups reach #1 on the Oricon, with a something-single streak – as a good fan, you’d want to get all the songs and support your band, don’t you?

But your love for the artist is definitely #1. They encourage fanmail. When balloting for something, you’re limited to how many you can apply for. We appreciate your money, the record companies say, but it’s still all about how much you love the artist! Your passion, your time, your devotion – how much you buy is just a little extra.

AKB48 goes a little differently – with the senbatsu rankings. While the thought of having fans decide firsthand the direction and fate of their idols, it’s the voting method that’s interesting to me. For the girls of AKB48, it’s not about how many of your fans join the fanclub, and how many devoted hours they spend lining up for your tickets and goods – all they have to do is reach in their pockets and hand over stacks of yen. You could buy hundreds of thousands of copies of their single and make the least popular girl in the company the top star, all by your own power. It’s no longer about how passionate the feelings in your heart are – it’s all about how much money you can spend.

It’s a shady business, it’s cruel to the girls, and it’s absolutely brilliant. Why ARE we limited to one vote per person, per fanclub member? It’s unfair to the fans who don’t have that much money to spend, but it motivates. A guy working in a convenience store who is a diehard fan of Ooto Aika, who’s on borderline for making it into the senbatsu single or not – well, he might just skip lunch a few days and pick up  a second single to submit an extra vote.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your money matter? If I want to pay, why can’t I buy a guaranteed good seat at an Arashi concert? Shouldn’t I be allowed in the audience for Music Station watching Ayumi perform if I actually bought multiple copies of her single? In opinion polls, shouldn’t I have more say if I’ve bought and watched the actual series the idol acted in, rather than someone who just casually caught a few episodes on tv? Idols are a business, and maybe making it a more clearcut, money-based business isn’t a bad idea.


4 Comments so far
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[…] It’s your money, not love, that matters (fly to high) […]

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I don’t know if you live in Japan, or are a hardcore fan of anything else, but being a hardcore fan, an otaku, a (w)ota – what have you, is really all about having the most stuff and doing the most in regards to your favorite artist. Ironically, these same hardcore fans do NOT expect anything else in return other than for their idol to put happiness and entertainment into their world – and isn’t that enough? After all the posters I purchased and CDs I brought, the idols I loved brought happiness into my life, something that has yet to be rivaled by anyone or anything else since.

If I felt as if they didn’t make me happy, even in hindsight, then I’d feel as if my money didn’t matter; but the posters and multiple copies of my idols’ music was worth it if it allowed me to escape from the bad things that exist each and every day in the real world.

I really don’t know how to word this without sounding like a kool-aid drinking cultist, ESPECIALLY since I hate idols these days, but that’s the feeling an otaku will have – and their money in turn does matter because they are investing into their own happiness through their love for their idol. A good seat at a concert or a ticket to a TV taping is nothing more than icing on the cake.

Comment by gethree9

The marketing minds behind AKB are incredibly shrewd, brilliant jerks. They know which girls are most popular and which ones are less so and they don’t need a balloting process to tell them that. They can watch lines at handshake events, count up merchandise sales, or simply look at who the active purchasers on the Ticket Center are and who they list as their oshimen. I take issue with the spectacle they make of it because it’s emotional manipulation of both the girls and the fans.

I do, however, think handshake and release events are pretty nifty and an appropriate way of thanking fans for their purchases. If someone wants to buy multiple copies and get multiple chances to do a handshake run, then good for them, but a younger fan or one with limited disposable income can still have a very meaningful experience as a result of buying a single.

Comment by Piper_G

[…] It’s your money, not love, that matters (fly to high) […]

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