Hey; moving my album reviews for Monday, so I can have weekends to work on them.
One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot is how fortunate I really am to be an idol fan. Earlier today was listening to the two Nerdist podcasts featuring Gabe Newell of the video company Valve (which has made a lot of really high quality games, including the incredible Half-Life 2 of which I’m a big fan). One of the big questions brought up was that since there’s more and more content being provided, how there’s less of a sense of community. Gabe mentioned something that now, with the internet, there’s a lot more ways to find community, and I really took that to heart with idols.
The fact is, without Youtube and other content providers, I wouldn’t be a fan of idols. And before the internet, you almost had to live in Japan, visit Japan or know someone who liked Japanese music. It was a lot more difficult to find content that you like, and now music is more international. I mean, sure it happened before (see: British Invasion), but I’m grateful for the internet.
I also really connected to the idea of finding a community online, because I don’t know anyone offline that likes the music that I do (at least the Japanese music), but now I’m connected to people through Happy Disco, Facebook and other sites. Hell, the MomoClo Facebook book I co-admin has been a really great resource for both Japanese and foreign fans to meet up and talk. Twitter too; while I get that AKB has their deal with G+, but twitter is really a great tool for companies.
Certain idol companies also do it better than others. I think one of the things that makes Hello!Project so popular with international fans is that they have worked with international fans in the past; I can buy new H!P tracks off iTunes, they used to have Hello!Store USA (which I spent a bit too much money on), and they have done a fairly good job of appealing to international fans. This wasn’t always the case; I remember distinctly when Takahashi Ai (or someone) said that Morning Musume members didn’t blog, and they sure realized that that reluctance was a bad idea. BABYMETAL has actually done, IMO, the best job of it, with an official Facebook page that updates in English, an official merchandise store and all their stuff on iTunes.
Slowly it’s becoming more and more possible for international fans to enjoy things, which also makes it more frustrating that other things aren’t international. I absolutely hate when a YouTube channel is region-locked, or the fact that I can’t spend money on things like AKB48 LODs; it’s understandable that not every place will ship internationally, but it’s when things are region locked that I think that some companies don’t get it.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than the fact that without the internet international idol fans wouldn’t be where we are, and that I can see things only getting better/easier for us from here.