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Question: Does Up-Front have a system? Is there a method to their madness? 6 replies to this topic Started by Madara , Jan 06 2019 02:03 AM · 

#1 Madara


Posted 06 January 2019 - 02:03 AM

On Christmas, I was telling my daughter’s boyfriend about my experience in November with Morning Musume at Anime NYC and he kept making assumptions about why their management did things. For instance, he kept saying, “It’s for the money.” And he even tried to compare MM with the way the Disney Channel monetizes its stars. And I kept telling him no, that he was looking at it through the prism of American media management and business practices, but that’s not how it is in Japan. I wish I’d taken notes on the conversation because I’ve forgotten the specific things he was talking about.


But it got me to wondering if Up-Front even has a systematic way of doing things, e.g. handling crises and scandals, marketing its stars, planning out their futures, promoting its products, strategizing their overseas outreach, etc. Everything I’ve seen leads me to think it’s all done on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis, e.g. shuffling the Country Girls into different groups. Some things luck out and work really well. Some things don’t. I don’t see a real system there. Or if there is one, I can’t recognize it. Am I missing something? Or am I framing the question wrong?


I'm not talking about Tsunku because I believe he has always had his own unique, intuitive system and it worked quite well for a long time. At least that part of the operation that he controlled. He's an artist himself, but he also knew how to manage. That's a rare combo. He's some kind of a genius. My question is about the suits in the corporate offices.



#2 Mukuro

  • モーニング娘。

Posted 06 January 2019 - 02:21 AM

At the end of the day, idols will always be a product that Up-Front is selling. This means the bottom line is profit, so they will push girls they believe will be more profitable for them in the future. It's also probably why they keep increasing the groups sizes, more girls = more fans = more money to exploit from those fans. 

#3 aine

  • 名無しさん‮

Posted 06 January 2019 - 02:21 AM

Here's a sneak photo from the most recent UF board meeting:


#4 JPope

  • Dick

Posted 06 January 2019 - 03:21 AM

For instance, he kept saying, “It’s for the money.” 


I mean, he's not wrong. 

#5 TicTacAnyone

  • Danbara's #1 fan

Posted 06 January 2019 - 04:22 AM

UFP strike me as the type of business that plays it safe. Yes they want to make money, but they never take any chances or go out of their comfort zones... and would rather rely on the loyal wota to buy the same-ol', same-ol' product. I think they base their plan-of-action/structure on "what can make us money with the least risk possible to us as a business?"


Of course, weighing risk is an important part of business. But most businesses would at least consider the risk if the benefit seems likely/overwhelming good.

#6 Al Kusanagi

Al Kusanagi
  • Iä! Iä! Sayumi Fhtagn!

Posted 06 January 2019 - 05:42 AM

The one thing they have going for them is that they are extremely loyal to their idols. Even ones who graduate and don't want to keep performing have chances to stay on behind the scenes. They also hold onto less popular members when a more mercenary company would just drop them.

#7 kitaoji

  • カントリー・ガールズ

Posted 06 January 2019 - 07:14 AM

At the end of the day, it still is about the money.  I think you were trying to see if vis-a-vis short term mercenary gain vs long term profit.  But it still is about the money and about milking fans.  

There's definite some level of planning re: promotion and marketing; someone out there needs to keep track of the scheduling and the radio plays and the billboards (speaking of which, how are those Shibuya billboards doing?).  But there are always uncertainties like Haachin's and Yanamin's decisions to leave the idol life.  In that case, transitioning to a "add new members to this group" style is the best way to keep the system in place. Young girls are replaceable (yes I'm going there). Losing a group and its schtick or contribution to H!P is major.

The formation of Beyooooonds is a poster child for promoting idols in an ad-hoc manner.  After all, they took way too long from announcing Ichioka Factory to giving her group a name and adding members.  But that it's up and running (sort of, anyway) they'll most likely fall into the pretty systematic way of running idol activities. Intro event? Check. Expect to see them open for MM and Ayacho's Budokan concerts in June.  Debut a CD with a torrent of release events a la Tsubaki Factory.  Do a series of fan events. Live house tour in 2020. Something like that.

I see the Country Girls shuffle as a managerial response to the impending loss of Momoko and thinking if the group could still draw enough fans to their handshake events.  At that point it's more economical to put them in different groups; saves money (yes that) on overhead such as daily managers and CD production and event scheduling.

On the goods end, there's an uptick in monetizing from their idols.  There's a limit to the number of events that you can plan around, so member-specific goods have definitely increased a lot.  (read: Photobook tapestries! figure stand keychains! badges! part 1-2-3-4-5 of A4 photos and L photos! File holders! etc).  

Each scandal is different depending on its severity, plus we're not entitled to the behind-the-scenes negotiations between the parents and the company, so who knows how that plays out.

In short, I lean towards Jpope and Tictac in that it's still about the money. And it's about being as safe as possible.  For every new thing they try (youtube programming for one) there's always a backup plan in the back to make up for potential loss revenue (more goods and trinkets).  And I don't see that changing in the future.