Johnny & Associates' International Vision and Digital Advances

09/11/2021 2021-11-09 14:00:00 JaME Source: Neokyo Copyeditor: Christine

Johnny & Associates' International Vision and Digital Advances

A look at recent efforts Johnny's has been making to reach out to international fans and improve its artists' presence on digital platforms.

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If you are a fan of Japanese music, Johnny & Associates is a name you are probably familiar with. The popular agency is the driving force behind a number of the most successful male idols in Japan. Their artists' CD sales and omnipresence on television and in movies, theatre and even advertisements remind music fans every day of the success of Johnny's in Japan. But what about their international vision?

For many years, fans living outside of Japan may have felt a bit neglected by the agency, but recently they have begun to evolve, with a renewed focus on reaching fans around the globe.

In this article, we'll take a look at how Johnny's have begun utilizing digital platforms and international services to extend their reach further overseas than ever before.

ARASHI, the precursors?

If there is one Johnny's group that has taken a big step forward towards the international market, it is ARASHI. After the announcement of their hiatus, ARASHI wanted to please as many fans as possible, overseas fans included. Arashians could therefore enjoy many new songs (including Whenever You Call, produced by Bruno Mars), remixes in English, a Netflix documentary translated into many languages, the arrival of the group's cult songs on Spotify, and more.

An official mission statement?

ARASHI is not the only group that has openly shown its desire to traverse the globe. The whole agency has shown a strong desire to extend its reach to fans from all over the world. Their choice to launch their official Twitter account in English instead of Japanese was a real surprise. Their first tweet: "Hello World!" was appreciated by many, as are the nearly daily English updates about the agency's stars and their latest activities.

English songs

If you like the music that Johnny's offers, you must have already noticed the arrival of more songs written entirely in English in the repertoire of the agency's groups. For example, King & Prince released Magic Touch, Sexy Zone shared RIGHT NEXT TO YOU, Snow Man put out ADDICTED TO LOVE and SixTONES released alternate English versions of tracks such as JAPONICA STYLE. However, it seems fervent fans of Japanese-only tracks need not worry, as the majority of the groups' tracks have remained in Japanese, in the signature style that has come to define Johnny's and Japanese male idols.

Online concerts

Have you memorized the lyrics to your favourite group's new songs and prepared your penlight and uchiwa? Perfect, because Johnny's has recently started offering some online events. Payment can be made via international credit cards and PayPal, so many overseas fans should now be able to cheer on their favourite artists, no matter how far away they are from Japan! This is a very welcome opportunity for many fans who can't travel to Japan to attend concerts in-person.

Improved access to the classics

It's not just the younger generation of Johnny's artists who have been trying to broaden their horizons. In honour of their 25th anniversary, a comprehensive playlist featuring full-length music videos and even footage of 2+ hour concerts ranging from the very start of V6's career to their latest releases was created on YouTube. Artists like Tsuyoshi Domoto and Koichi Domoto of KinKi Kids have begun releasing both their latest works and their back catalogues on digital platforms in recent years. It's a wonderful time to familiarize yourself with the veteran artists who helped to shape the Johnny's phenomenon into what it is today.

What about the Juniors?

The Juniors have not been forgotten either - far from it. Their dedicated website, ISLAND TV, offers an automatic translation of most of its pages, which can be a real plus when you start to get interested in a Junior group. After visiting ISLAND TV, fans can also check out the Johnny's Jr. Channel on YouTube. There, you can watch lots of videos, including everything from live performances to variety-style content, and the agency has even added fan subtitles to some of them.

Overseas goods sales

The purchase of official Johnny's goods (merchandise) has been a longtime struggle for fans who do not live in Japan. Today, Johnny's has an online store that allows fans to use proxy services: intermediaries for purchases in Japan. Johnny's has recently taken another step to make concert and tour goods available to more international fans. Since June 26th and the start of goods sales for King & Prince's Re:Sense tour, the proxy service Neokyo has been the only partner officially sanctioned by Johnny’s for sales outside Japan. Currently, using Neokyo, fans can enjoy a special campaign for the purchase of King & Prince Re:Sense or Snow Man LIVE TOUR 2021 Mania goods. Details on these offers are available here.

Johnny's on Netflix

Finally, let's talk about the presence of Johnny's on the online streaming platform Netflix. Overseas fans are still far from having a catalogue full of Japanese dramas (unlike the more extensive collection of popular Korean dramas). However, the present line-up still features some contributions from Johnny's artists, including titles such as "According to Our Butler" (featuring Yuta Jinguji and Ren Nagase of King & Prince) and "Switched" (featuring Daiki Shigeoka and Tomohiro Kamiyama of Johnny's WEST). Moreover, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, ARASHI also released a documentary called "Voyage Diary", which has been translated into several languages. Fans of Johnny's in general can also enjoy the documentary series "RIDE ON TIME", which offers hours of footage of many Johnny's artists and Johnny's Juniors. Not all episodes are translated, but fans can still enjoy watching their favourite groups, get acquainted with new stars, and get inspired by the Johnny's spirit.

While there is still a lot of ground to cover as Johnny's aims to improve its communication with fans overseas, these recent steps show that real progress is being made, and it is becoming easier and easier for fans to follow their favourite groups and discover the many talents each of the agency's stars has to offer.