J-pop boy band Arashi takes YouTube and online music stores by storm in rare move for Johnny & Associates artistes

Japanese boy band Arashi, managed by powerful talent agency Johnny & Associates, has set up accounts on Spotify Japan as well as YouTube. (Screengrab from Spotify Japan)

In a rare move for J-pop giant Johnny & Associates, the powerful talent management agency has created a YouTube channel for one of their most popular boy bands, Arashi. Despite the shock announcement that they would be going on hiatus after 2020, Japanese idol group Arashi not only did not reduce their activities, they even set up an official YouTube channel, much to the delight of fans worldwide.

In the week since Arashi created their YouTube channel last Wednesday (9 Oct), it has garnered more than 1.3 million subscribers. Currently in their channel, there are only five music videos, but they have already racked up three or four million views per video. These videos include their 1999 debut song “A・RA・SHI” and “Love So Sweet”, the theme song for the sequel to the popular Japanese drama series Hana Yori Dango.

Their top video is that for “Monster” with 4.6 million views:

Furthermore, each of the videos has thousands of comments from fans worldwide, expressing their excitement and gratitude. A fan from India exclaimed, “Today a dream of all the Arashians came true! Thank you so much!” Another fan from Philippines commented, “I’m really glad this channel is open to fans outside Japan.”

Johnny & Associates specialises in male entertainers and managed popular boy bands and artistes such as SMAP, Arashi, KAT-TUN and Kanjani Eight. The agency maintains tight controls over its artistes and traditionally restricted their appearance on the internet and social media. The agency only recently set up its own YouTube channel in August this year.

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As it is uncommon for artistes from Johnny & Associates to have official social media accounts and strong online presence, one fan from the United States said, “It's so surreal being able to stream Arashi legally.” Another fan, on the other hand, got so emotional watching the music video that she posted, “This is making me so nostalgic I'm nearly tearing up, I've been a fan for 11-12 years and they finally got a YouTube channel.”

This move to set up an official YouTube channel has even made a fan from China speculate that Johnny & Associates is planning to expand the boyband’s influence overseas, possibly venturing out of the domestic market. Not to dash any hopes but it seems these videos were uploaded to celebrate the group’s 20th anniversary, with their DVD and Blu-ray titled 5×20 All the BEST!! CLIPS 1999-2019 being released this Wednesday (16 Oct). Regardless of that, it is still Arashi’s first step into the international market.

Apart from an official YouTube channel, Arashi has also registered on Spotify JapanAmazon Music Japan and Apple Music Japan. Although these platforms are limited to Japan only, international fans can still access them with a tweak of the settings.

Arashi’s members comprise Satoshi Ohno, Sho Sakurai, Masaki Aiba, Kazunari Ninomiya and Jun Matsumoto. The five, who still regularly act, sing, and host TV shows, remain immensely popular in Japan and internationally despite all being in their late 30s already.