Why Johnny and Associates Artists Struggle To Be Popular In Western Countries


Several Johnny’s artists receiving a Guinness World Record for producing the most artists to achieve #1 on music charts, the 3rd of CEO Johnny Kitagawa’s career.

Kis-My-Ft2, SMAP, Hey! Say! JUMP, NEWS, Arashi, Kanjani Eight, KAT-TUN and more J-Pop idol groups from Johnny’s Entertainment are always ranking the top in the Oricon charts. Whether if we talk about the album or the singles charts, all of these idol groups always achieve success and end up selling thousands of copies within a week since their latest single/album releases.

The three best selling artists from Johnny’s are SMAP, Arashi and Kinki Kids and the three all together amass an approximate total of 86 million physical sales! That’s about the same amount Beyoncé or Lady Gaga have sold in their whole career. Fact is Japan is the second largest music market in the world following closely by a small gap US’ music market, so it’s not surprising how they managed to get so many copies sold.

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Arashi, SMAP and Kinki Kids, the best selling artists among the Johnny’s Entertainment company.

But! Also because Japan is the second largest market and Johnny & Associates is one of the biggest and most successful talent agencies in the country, the agency itself  doesn’t have the need to be exporting and promoting their artists who are tightly managed by the agency itself.

Another important and influencing factor to point out is that Japan is not into the digital music era as the rest of the world. Buying a physical copy of SMAP’s latest single “Yes we are/ココカラ ” is way easier than getting the digital version which might probably not be available in iTunes. Yes, it might not make sense but that’s how it is.

One of the reasons why this happens is because every time they release a new album, they don’t just sell the single all alone but usually put it together with a bonus edition which most of the time contains; the CD single itself and the DVD of the music video plus another DVD containing a live version of previously released songs and sometimes even a documentary photobook or a simple photobook promoting the new single. Same story goes not just for SMAP but the rest of Johnny’s boy bands. At this point, I don’t think there is any need to ask why they do this… Because of the money obviously.

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¥¥£€$$Mmmm.. Yummy Money, Money~

This also could explain why these artists don’t have official account in the most used video sharing website worldwide, YouTube. What is the point for them in releasing a limited bonus edition with the music video if anyone can just go and watch it in YouTube right?

And yet J-Pop and Johnny’s artists are the most popular around not just Japan but also Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Philippines and many other east-asian countries which anually provide 1.5% of the sales outcome with thousands of fans coming to Japan just to see their favourite artists perform in high acclaimed venues such as Yokohama Arena or the Tokyo Dome where Arashi or SMAP usually sell out every concert they have.

Conclusion in a few words, J-Pop is not interested in exporting their artists, just for now. It doesn’t mean it could be like this forever but right now they don’t have the need. As things go now, the Japanese music industry is actually booming and they benefit of this booming and keep on growing in pupolarity… In Asia that is, as in western countries is struggling to hit popularity so far. But the facts are still impressive and we can expect much more on the years to come. After all being not popular in YouTube doesn’t actually mean not to be good or talented right?


One response to “Why Johnny and Associates Artists Struggle To Be Popular In Western Countries

  1. Hello, I was was wondering if you could provide me your source material for this article. I am presenting in Japanese on Johnny’s groups increasing their tours worldwide. Thank you for the great article! It was very informative. 🙂

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