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From Akiba to L.A. with AKB48




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CareyGrant



Joined: 18 Nov 2009
Posts: 453

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:18 am Reply with quote
A very thoughtful and humanizing piece, Carlos. I can't imagine how thrilling, hectic and stressful their jobs must be. I don't envy them, nor the pressure they must deal with in such a revolving cast. For the four you interviewed, it sounded like they were on the ride of their lives.

But I can't help but wonder, with such overwhelming popularity and commercial success in Japan, how much do these girls make for all of their hard work, even if you ignore their group's size and assuming they all get paid they same (which I doubt, I'd bet their's some sort of pay scale). I'd wager it's a very, very small percentage of the many, many, many millions being made; those would be figures I'd like to know.

I find it fascinating how ensembles/groups from the West differ from those in the East, based on pay, creative control, etc.
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Patachu
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Joined: 08 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:27 am Reply with quote
CareyGrant wrote:
But I can't help but wonder, with such overwhelming popularity and commercial success in Japan, how much do these girls make for all of their hard work, even if you ignore their group's size and assuming they all get paid they same (which I doubt, I'd bet their's some sort of pay scale). I'd wager it's a very, very small percentage of the many, many, many millions being made; those would be figures I'd like to know.


I'm too polite to ask directly, not even to their manager, but I know from industry discussion that an average idol singer of high school / college age barely makes a living wage*. It's probably respectable pocket money at best. In addition, the minors will have the money funneled to their parents because they're still not considered legal working adults.

*This can be augmented, however, by doing magazine photoshoots and TV appearances and other publicity work.

I recall that during the peak of Morning Musume's popularity, the most well-known girls got a good middle-class wage, but there was a big drop-off once you got to the understudies and nobodies. Multiply that by a 48-sized troupe and, well, it's no wonder they have to put on shows at the Akihabara theater every night just to keep the cash flow going. And most of that cash flow will go to administrative staff: the head producer (Yasushi Akimoto), managers and handlers, music writers and arrangers, choreographers, before it ever gets to the girls. They may be the famous names and the public face of the group, but they are essentially hired service workers -- kind of like how manga-ka or animators, despite being the actual talent, get screwed on the pay scale.

But you know how it is -- you don't go into showbiz to get rich. You go into showbiz because it's your dream.
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 11345

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:55 am Reply with quote
These groups are kinda like the stable of teenage actors/actresses/singers that Disney pumps out every year (e.g. before Hannah Montana, there was High School Musical, then the Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, Christy Carlson Romano, etc).

And yeah, ya go to showbiz to get rich. Otherwise, just keep your dreams in Broadway. Laughing
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Raneth



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:01 am Reply with quote
Was this article supposed to be some hidden joke? Because it sounds like the interview didn't get much farther than eliciting the same basic responses you seem from a lot of these types of bands. Case in point, the typical "but I'll do my best to perform on stage without any hitches," response.

"The fact that they came up through the AKB ranks together has built a camaraderie so strong that they can almost finish each other's sentences when they respond." That's probably because they're used to responding the same way to tons of interviews. That's not exactly camaraderie.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to insult the band. But I feel like the questions fans asked-which were actually questions I would want answered, such as where they will perform next-aren't the ego feeding questions you think they are. I like bands for their music, not for their personalities, and perhaps others do to. Maybe idol worship just isn't that big in America compared to Japan.

I don't want to sound callous, but I've always wondered why some people care about the members of any band beyond the basic "I wish them well because I like their music." Their music is good. You only really see them doing their job. Why do you care what they do on the side?
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Patachu
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Joined: 08 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:51 am Reply with quote
Raneth wrote:
"The fact that they came up through the AKB ranks together has built a camaraderie so strong that they can almost finish each other's sentences when they respond." That's probably because they're used to responding the same way to tons of interviews. That's not exactly camaraderie.


I guess it doesn't come out on paper but there were a few spots in the interview where they would all start talking at once.

Are the questions soft? Of course they're soft, AX only allowed 15 minutes of interview time and 5 of that is eaten up by setup time. What you really want, maybe, is an interview with the producer, but he was there only to supervise the group during their stay.

Quote:
I don't want to sound callous, but I've always wondered why some people care about the members of any band beyond the basic "I wish them well because I like their music." Their music is good. You only really see them doing their job. Why do you care what they do on the side?


Well, it's like, some people watch anime simply because they like animation, and then some people collect figurines and cosplay and create fanart/fanfics. Why NOT engage on a deeper level? Idols are entertainers first and musicians third (or possibly last), and the whole point is to use the music as a gateway and then take an interest in their individual characters as performers.

I think the mistake you are making is to take them as a music performance group, when they're really more of a variety troupe that just does music as its main focus.

If I wanted to like music for the sake of music I'd go down to the Symphony (which I do a few times every year). But am I ever going to feel affection toward the conductor? Is it possible to find the first-chair violinist endearing? Will I ever develop, God forbid, a sense of moe for the French Horn section? Impossible! Music-for-the-sake-of-music is so impersonal. That's where idols come in, manufactured as they may be—a friendly face and a warm handshake to go with all those cheery little songs.
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v1cious



Joined: 31 Dec 2002
Posts: 5058
Location: Fresno, TX

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:23 pm Reply with quote
Raneth wrote:
Was this article supposed to be some hidden joke? Because it sounds like the interview didn't get much farther than eliciting the same basic responses you seem from a lot of these types of bands. Case in point, the typical "but I'll do my best to perform on stage without any hitches," response.

"The fact that they came up through the AKB ranks together has built a camaraderie so strong that they can almost finish each other's sentences when they respond." That's probably because they're used to responding the same way to tons of interviews. That's not exactly camaraderie.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to insult the band. But I feel like the questions fans asked-which were actually questions I would want answered, such as where they will perform next-aren't the ego feeding questions you think they are. I like bands for their music, not for their personalities, and perhaps others do to. Maybe idol worship just isn't that big in America compared to Japan.

I don't want to sound callous, but I've always wondered why some people care about the members of any band beyond the basic "I wish them well because I like their music." Their music is good. You only really see them doing their job. Why do you care what they do on the side?


Gia Manry answered this awhile ago:

Quote:
in the US we force our stars to at least pretend to have souls. I remember a group interview with an idol that I never wound up publishing because the content was so worthless. One of the other people asked a question about how Japan's climate is currently all about "change" thanks to their recent shift in government, so was she doing anything to try and change her world, etc. In the US that would be a great excuse for some soundbite-- for the celeb to pimp a cause if they have one, or just to say something about how they just want to change the world by making people smile or some other such nonsense.

This girl completely blanked. I can't be sure the translation of the question was any good, but she just looked really confused and in the end her manager stepped in. People in Japan don't expect an idol to be worried about something like that, I think. But in the US that's absolutely the kind of question we ask of our music, TV, and movie stars.


long story short: most idols are kind of... dumb
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Ryo Hazuki



Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 260
Location: Finland

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:29 pm Reply with quote
v1cious wrote:

long story short: most idols are kind of... dumb


Or just too busy to care about anything else than performing, practicing, posing for magazines and photobooks and sleeping.
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poonk



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 1410
Location: In the Library with Philip

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:29 pm Reply with quote
I actually got my first-ever look at AKB48 just last week when I was rather belatedly watching this year's 4.5 hour live SMAPxSMAP New Year's special*, the first hour or so of which has the guys making kaitenzushi for the entire group of 48. Shocked The interview portion was kinda chaotic (go figure) and the "Rules of AKB48" were a bit dubious (really, they have to bath together? That seemed like it was made up for the titillation factor); but it got more entertaining once they started feeding them while Nakai read "secrets" submitted by various members (like who sings off-key, who openly passes wind, who walks around naked a lot, etc.). I actually felt kind of bad for some of the girls then, though the SMAP guys seemed to try to divert attention with self-deprecating humor when it got too tense.

What struck me is, in a group that huge how could any one girl possibly hope to stand out? I'm fairly sure I'm not their target audience though, so perhaps it will forever remain a mystery to me.

*The episode's been fansubbed and I'd link the SMAP livejournal group where it's available if any AKB48 fans wanted a look but I guess it's technically a fansubbing site (even though there is zero chance of SxS being licensed) so I don't want to run afoul of The Rules. I'm sure anyone interested can do a little snooping on their own.
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Achilles001



Joined: 08 Jul 2010
Posts: 8
Location: AZ

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:09 pm Reply with quote
Love the girls' reaction to the interviewer starting to speak Japanese.
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