Idol Thoughts: Indie vs Major?

I’ve been trying to do some more writing for Pure Idol Heart as of late. It was one of my favorite idol sites before I joined as a writer, and I really admire what it does to try and get people interested in indie idols. There’s a great world out there beyond the main groups of idols, and I want more people to learn about these groups.

The thing that I’ve been thinking about, though, is the increasing blurred lines between indie and major. The basic concept is easy; indie are all groups on an independent label and major is on a major label (like King Records, Sony, Avex, etc.). However, what really are the main advantages of a major debut? It’s what a lot of idol groups aim for; the biggest indie idol contest, the UMU award, takes local idols and makes the big prize a major debut. This could be a huge thing for a lot of groups. However, what about indie idol groups that are already fairly successful?

Lately I and some others have taken interest in the Fukuoka based HR. This is a group I’ve had my eye on for a while (mostly because Fukuoka has had a really good track record lately for idol groups). However, recently they hit #6 on the Oricon weekly chart. With an indies single, Evolution da. I know that Oricon chart rankings don’t mean everything, but that’s definitely higher than even some major debut idols.

This isn’t a fluke or one group; WHY@DOLL recently hit #10 on the Oricon weekly chart, as well.

One answer I thought of was major distribution; it is difficult for some idol groups to distribute their stuff. I know there are a few idol groups out there that I’d love to buy their singles, but they just don’t sell them at major retailers. Which is the case for a lot of the smaller indie groups. However, again look to HR. I recently purchased a copy of Evolution Da because I like it so much, and they’re selling it through CDJapan (and I assume most retailers in Japan). It’s still possible to get Rhymeberry’s indie single “Hey! Brother” through these types of retailers, as well. It’s no longer necessary to have a major retailer to be on the national scene.

I’m not trying to say that getting on a major debut isn’t a big goal; it really is, especially for idols that perform at the tiniest venues or at street lives. However, there is an increasing class of idol group that I’d call ‘high-profile indie,’ and it makes some of those benefits fade a little.

2 thoughts on “Idol Thoughts: Indie vs Major?

  1. A short but very interesting read. Thank you.
    It never occured to me that distribution might be one of the factors that determine the “health” of an indie idol group. I was more from the “getting exposure” line of thought. The indie idol group which is currently my No.1 is Up Up Girls(仮). They just got 17th on Oricon Singles Weekly ranking for their latest single. You should try check them out ^_^

    • Thank you for checking out my blog! Yeah, these idol thoughts posts are basically my short ideas that I throw out there, but I’m glad you thought it was interesting.

      Getting exposure does matter, but there are just other things to think about.

      Up Up Girls i honestly the one group I keep thinking I need to follow more. I was a really big fan of Sekine Azusa in her H!P Egg days, and I like a lot of the Up Up Girls songs (Samurai Girls and Up Up Typhoon, mostly). But they do a really good job of performing on such a regular basis, which is a really great way for an indie idol/group to get notice. Kotone Mai, for example, is a solo idol who got noticed almost entirely based off her work ethic; she performed over 300 live events in one year! This is an area I see Up Up Girls succeeding; they are SUPER active, in a great way.

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