Dec 8th, 2019, 01:54 AM

Arashi's Digital Storm

By Rosie Liu
ARASHI's album "LOVE"
The Arrival of J-pop on Social Media

You might not be a Japanese pop (J-pop) culture expert, but it's possible you've unknowingly come across their music. If you have, it's likely music from a group called Arashi. Consisting of five members: Satoshi Ohno, Sho Sakurai, Masaki Aiba, Kazunari Ninomiya, and Jun Matsumoto; this group has been named the most popular J-pop group in the world. Despite their fame, they have only just now started their social media accounts after celebrating the 20th anniversary of their group. Social media platforms you can now find them on include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik-Tok, Weibo and a YouTube Channel. They are also releasing all singles onto streaming platforms, which has been strictly banned by their agency, Johnny & Associates Talent, until now. 

Arashi, written as “,” means “storm” in Japanese because the group wishes to create a storm throughout the world. In many ways they have. Along with many national awards, they hold the record for winning the Oricon weekly singles rating. They won "Single of The Year" twice, "Album of The Year" three times, and "Artist of The Year" five times. This November, they were the only J-pop group that performed at the Japanese Emperor’s Enthronement. On top of their significant achievements in the music industry, they are also very influential throughout the Japanese media, both individually and as a group. Using their popularity, they have hosted many music festivals and even charity events.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

ARASHI(@arashi_5_official)分享的貼文 張貼

Any normal talent agency, seeing a group with such potential, would probably have started to expand their international market through social media as soon as possible. However, Johnny & Associates, commonly known as Johnny’s, is not a normal talent agency. Their former executive director, Johnny Kitagawa, who was also the founder of the company, believes his artists should be bringing fans and attention to Japan instead of conforming to an international platform. Therefore, it is tough for J-pop fans outside of Japan to support celebrities signed under Johnny’s. The fan club is effectively restricted. On top of that, none of their music is available on any online music streaming platform legally. Even if fans were to buy their CDs to support them, they are only available in select nations like Taiwan and Korea.

Up until last year, not a single online platform, even NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), was allowed to publish anything online with their talents’ face on it. If any news platform were to write an article about a celebrity under Johnny’s, they could only use the silhouette of the person at most. It is a big jump from not allowing any images online to having six social media accounts, especially if it is for the most popular group under the most famous talent agency. As they started their YouTube channel, the hungry international fans surely showed their support as much as possible. More than 1 million people subscribed on the very first day they started their channel and by now, there are 2.35 million people subscribed to the channel. The main reason they started their YouTube channel and all these social media accounts, according to the members, is because as they are taking a break from group activities after December 31st, 2020. They want to leave as much as possible on the internet, so fans from all over the world can still enjoy their music while they are taking a break.

ARASHI「2019.11.03」

Arashi's official YouTube channel celebrates the group's anniversary.

As a J-pop fan who lives outside Japan, I was shocked but ecstatic when I saw that the agency stepped out of their comfort zone to open up to the internet. Seeing a selfie of my favorite artist was something I could not even dream of. I sincerely hope the international fan base can cherish this opportunity and show the agency that opening up to the internet will not decrease their profit but instead allow international audiences to benefit from the group's music.