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.