So… you have begun to stan a Johnnys group. Welcome! It’s going to be a very sparkly and emotional ride, but let me give you some tips to help you start out.
This is a new series on my blog called “Johnny’s 101”, where I answer as much in depth about the infamous Japanese boyband agency Johnny’s and associates as I possibly can. As a bit of background, I have been a Johnnys fan for over 10 years now, and have also written my graduate school thesis on the business of Johnny’s. I don’t know everything (as Johnny’s can be mysterious in a lot of ways) but I hope I can give an insight into Johnny’s that you might not know yet.
But first… What is Johnnys?
Johnnys is an all-male talent agency founded in the 1960s by Johnny Kitagawa. The agency is mostly known for training boys (called Johnny’s Juniors) in different parts of the entertainment industry (singing, dancing, acting, etc.) from a young age by having them back dance for the debuted groups, seeing which ones are popular, and then debuting a select few. They aren’t just simply boybands but are involved in many different activities in the entertainment industry in Japan, such as television, movies, fashion, and even novel writing and newscasting. Some of the most popular groups that have come out of Johnnys are SMAP and Arashi.
Now with that out of the way, let’s get to today’s topic which is basics of the agency and the fandom that you should know as a new fan (and maybe a reminder or refresher for those OG fans out there!)
1. Johnny’s is extremely strict (as are the fans) and behind the times
Johnny’s hasn’t digitalized yet (even worse than the rest of Japan… which is saying something) which means there are no YouTube videos or digital music downloads. Hard copies only, my friends! They are super strict with what is uploaded to social media and media sites as well. Around 2014 or so is when they actually put their artist’s pictures on their OWN website and their fan club was super analog until about 2 years ago (hard copy tickets, paying via bank transfer and all) Shocker isn’t it? In my opinion, this is a huge barrier to growth for them, especially internationally. BUT! With that being said recently they have made some huge changes, like Johnny’s official shop goods being sold online within Japan, revamp of the online fan club system, and especially so with the juniors YouTube channel, which is promising. My question though: is it too slow? Let me know what you think!
As for the fans, concert manners and sharing media online is policed pretty strictly. This varies from group to group though, as each fan base has a different “culture” so to speak. An example of this is with my favorite group NEWS, concert spoilers during the tour are kinda a big no-no, as NEWS themselves said a few years back they prefer all the fans to be surprised, so…. you won’t see the set list and hardly any detailed spoilers until after the final show is finished. It’s not to “end game” level, but we protect from spoilers as much as possible. MC is perfectly fine to spoil so bring all the weird things they say!
2. Johnnys is based in Japan and caters mostly to a Japanese audience
Johnny’s is based in Japan and caters to Japanese fans within Japan. I see a lot of fans getting upset that Johnny’s doesn’t do much for international fans and say “Johnny’s hate international fans” but at this point in time with the current stage of the agency, I think these thoughts are misguided. I could make an entirely separate blog post about this (comment below if you want it!), but to sum it up the Japanese music industry is #2 in the world only after the United States. Because of this, Johnny’s can make enough money just within Japan no problem only catering to Japanese fans. Why should they spend the money to expand overseas when they dominate the Japanese market and make enough money anyway? Even fans inside of Japan have a hard time getting concert tickets even when they are in the fan club and the artists only have enough hours in a day, so how can they expand and think of going overseas when they are at capacity inside of Japan? If you think about it that way, you can see why Johnny’s wouldn’t want to cater to foreign fans, as they have their hands full inside of Japan already. Does this mean they shouldn’t share media outside of Japan? No, I think YouTube and social media is essential, but in terms of an international fan club and translating things into many languages, it’s not going to work for a long time and not a good choice business wise. They first need to get the digital infrastructure up and running in Japan first.
3. The Twitter community is probably the strongest to find fan friends (Japanese and foreign)and get the latest information.
Back in the day, LiveJournal used to be the community of choice but in the past 5 years or so that community has pretty much died and everyone is on Twitter. If you want to make fandom friends, make a twitter account and get started by talking with other fans! Japanese fans are also heavy users of Twitter (as Twitter is the dominant social media platform in Japan besides Instagram) so you can get almost any piece of information you need on there. For the most part, us fans are extremely friendly and are more than happy to point you in the direction of what you see looking for. Just be sure to respect the other fans and don’t assume that the way things are done in your country are done that way in Japan and in Johnny’s.
4. No Johnny’s talents have individual Twitter or Instagram accounts or even social media
Okay okay, there is 1 exception that literally happened when I was writing this, which is Yamapi! He was on Weibo, but then on May 16th, he made an Instagram, a Johnny’s first. In general, though, Johnnys do not have social media (including youtube… except the Junior’s channel I mentioned above!) and their “blogs”, called Jwebs, are behind a paywall and are only in Japanese. This poses an interesting dynamic, as the world has moved rapidly towards an era of social media and digital music downloads and streaming, in which Johnnys is pretty archaic. So, if you want to find any information about the group or see their music videos you will have to go on a hunt around the internet.
Did I miss anything? What information would you like as a new Johnnys fan or as an OG fan what advice would you give to new fans?
4 thoughts on “[Johnnys 101] So You Have Begun to Stan A Johnnys Group – All the basics you need to know”
Just a mention, but Johnny’s does have videos on Youtube now, so maybe you should update that… For debuted groups, they at least get short MVs and CMs and stuff like that from their record labels now (especially Avex). Aside from that there’s Island TV and the concert streams that are happening there.
I’m not sure how the Fanclub supposedly changed recently…? Aside from the webside layout which is awful now, they only switched to QR code tickets and that system has its pros and cons, but for international fans outside of the FC it’s definitely worse because it made resales more difficult.
And I really approve of Johnny’s talents not having any SNS. Comparing it to k-pop accounts, I’d rather not see all the lunatics bothering them. There’s enough of that already happening directly (for example why Jump canceled this year’s tour).
Hi! Thanks for reading and for the comment!
Do you have any links for the debuted groups YouTube videos you could share? I know the juniors have a channel which my wording might not have mentioned very well! I guess certain labels maybe have them on their channels but Johnny’s owned channel or Johnny’s owned record labels (Jstorm, johnnys entertainment etc,… if I remember though KJ8 might have videos on there label website though right?) I don’t think there are any videos…
The FC you can now pay digitally for renewal through the payz system and there is a ticket holder for the digital tickets etc. balloting is also easier through the system than having to balloting via the form at the post office which was a pain to do.
For social media I have mixed feelings on it too but overall i think it’s good for exposure. There are ways to manage it like turning off comments and messages etc, but that would require a real social media team to monitor all that, which I’m sure johnnys doesn’t have right now. I can see them experimenting and I hope they find something that works for the talents to not get harassed, but also let them into the digital age.
Not the person from the first post, but if you check the avex YouTube channel there are short proviews of V6 and Kisumai PVs.
Infinity Records has CMs for the PVs and other stuff, even music preview. CMs for Eito at least are being posted in YouTube (the last 7-11 CM even had an extra of the full song they covered).
IslandTV is not the YouTube channel, it has other kind of exclusive content, but I don’t know much else (and it has Kanjuu, because the YT channel hasn’t).
Thanks for this information!! 😊 I’ll add an edit in to the post regarding it.