A Look into the World of the Self-produced Idol

I know some of you guys have seen this article by Tokyo Girls Update from a few days ago (it made the rounds pretty well). It’s a longish look at the unique part of the idolverse in which the performers are the ones driving the bus, so to speak. It brings up the (basically defunct) Nama Hamu to Yaki Udon as an example of the reality and difficulties, and spends a nice bit of time with Avandoned:

Under Beasty was my first experience with the self-produced (they’re with an agency now); coming at idol via Babymetal, such an idea was inspiring and (I’ll be honest) surprising — of course it would exist because there are always people who want control over their product, but the immense amount of lifting that goes into making music, choreography, creating the stage show, outfits, promotion, etc. sounded like way too much for people who are, you know, usually in school or working another job. It’s impressive.

We had looked in at this angle a bit differently in the past, if you remember that series of posts by the former manager of Girls Excellency International. Considering how awesome that project was and how difficult it was for the manager and idols to make really any money at all, the whole scenario is I think worth considering every time an idol group folds out of nowhere, or a manager makes a decision that we don’t really understand.

It’s also worth considering just to get a grasp of how grueling this business is. Basically all of the arts — and all artists by extension — are hideously undercompensated for the value of the product that they create, systemically (in this case, the structure of the idol business) and just in general (“the market!” doesn’t reflect the limits on disposable income for people who’d probably pay more, but literally can’t). You kind of have to really want to idol to do it for very long, or be in a legit band, or whatever, because the financial piece probably isn’t there for you.

Anyway, it’s interesting to think about. And if you just want to look at an article that’s kind of about Avandoned, that’s cool too.

One thought on “A Look into the World of the Self-produced Idol

  1. I sometimes wonder if I go on-and-on about my unconditional support for Avandoned too much, and then I think “Sorry, not sorry!!”!! The two are in my top-tier of idol-love and I’m not shutting up about it. 😀

    I was so happy to see one of the more well-known jpop culture sources give them some bandwidth. It’s a nice article and sums up what I want to look for most in the idols I give my time to. It’s a bit of challenge, but I try to dig in and find the idols that are really finding their own voice and shaping their own destinies and aren’t caught up in the less desirable aspects of the business. Those are the idols/groups/managers/labels I really want to support.

    Another thing you mentioned here, and it’s stuck me since that Girl’s Excellency piece was written, is that on the chika level, nobody is really making any money at this stuff, and these girls know that most of them will never get beyond this stage. A lot of them do this because they enjoy it, just like some teenagers who formed a local punk-rock band that only lasted a year of their lives. All that merch, the zines, and the chekis, that’s pretty much their income at this point and the intensive amount of work they put into it is another reason I love Avandoned so much. (I commented on the weekender post, I believe Beni is learning from and following Tentenko’s business plan carefully.)

    And lastly, this article indirectly may have answered my theories about the major changes Avandoned has gone through in such a short amount of time. Nayuta’s leaving the group always seemed a little odd, because it really didn’t feel like anybody really wanted her to leave. And Asimov.is.Magician was Nayuta and Avandoned’s songwriter. It appears Avandoned got sort of “abandoned” again, and the group now is essentially Beni and Kotao working incredibly hard (with some outside help) to rebrand the group. The “Panic at Nerd Park” Avandoned with it’s weird chirpy noise pop has now morphed into a new type of quirky pop that’s also extremely good. I do honestly worry about them a little bit, because I know they can’t get rich doing this and playing shows with 30 people in the crowd won’t sustain them forever, so all I can do is try to yell out as much support for them as I can from over here…..

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