Fans First” with “Doubling of Fan Club Membership Fees”? Screams of janitors who are forced to bear the increased burden under the new organization. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Fans First” with “Doubling of Fan Club Membership Fees”? Screams of janitors who are forced to bear the increased burden under the new organization.

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Kazunari Ninomiya (left) and Fuma Kikuchi, who launched a private franchise.

As the cost of living becomes more difficult due to high prices and rising electricity bills, the “janitorial fans” of the former Johnny’s office (SMILE-UP., hereafter SU) are likely to face an even tougher time in their pockets.

Currently, STARTO ENTERTAINMENT (STARTO), a new company that began full-scale operations in April, has taken over the management rights of the former Johnny’s talent, and has concluded contracts with the former Johnny’s talent. STARTO announced at the launch of the new company in April that it had signed a license agreement with the company that runs the “Family Club,” a fan club (FC) for the former Johnny’s talents, and that it would take over the operations of the club.

Although not publicly disclosed since the days of the former Johnny’s, the total number of FC members was said to be 13 million, with an annual membership fee of 4,000 yen and annual revenue of 52 billion yen. Of that amount, the former Johnny’s is said to have taken 70-80%, with the remainder divided among individuals and members of each group.

As of last December, STARTO stated that it was “currently making preparations to operate the franchise as an organization independent of SU” for its own talents. However, in April, it was discovered that it was in fact SU that was operating the “Family Club,” and this became a problem. Subsequently, SU announced that it would spin off “Family Club” by the end of this summer.

In April, the same month that STARTO began full-scale operations, the five members of Arashi announced the launch of “Arashi Co. One of the members, Kazuya Ninomiya (41), who had left the former Johnny’s last October, also announced that he would continue as a member of Arashi, much to the relief of Arashi fans. However, on the 17th of this month, his 41st birthday, Ninomiya announced that he would launch a personal FC with an annual membership fee of 5,500 yen, and fans screamed on the Internet.

To begin with, Arashi fans have been paying the 4,000 yen annual FC membership fee since ’21, when the group went on hiatus, even though there are no benefits at all. Ninomiya’s fans will also have to pay individual FC membership fees in addition to that, so their annual expenses will amount to at least 9,500 yen. Matsumoto Jun (40) also left STARTO on May 30, so the departure of all Arashi members and the establishment of personal FC may be the default.

In other groups, Fuma Kikuchi (29) of “timelesz” (formerly Sexy Zone) announced the conclusion of an agent contract with STARTO in April, and at the same time announced the establishment of a personal FC for 550 yen per month. Fans who join Kikuchi’s personal FC will spend 10,600 yen per year in addition to the annual membership fee of 4,000 yen for the “timelesz” FC, which is more expensive than Ninomiya’s fans.

In the future, more talents will follow Kikuchi’s lead and start their own private franchises. The burden on fans will only increase, and this is a serious problem, especially for teenage fans. There is also concern among fans that increasing the number of activities by individuals for their own franchises will create disparities within the group and hinder the group’s activities. While it is good that the former system of Johnny’s has been reformed and that the talent can now work freely, it may be fair to say that the environment for fans has been “deteriorated” as a result.

Jun Fukuda, 58, president of STARTO, said in an interview last December, “I want fans to have a sense of expectation for the future through management. Please watch over us warmly.

He then added, “In addition to the fan club services we have provided up to now, we will continue to provide more returns to the fans and promote new things, so please look forward to our future, Where did he go with that statement? ……

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Members of YouTube’s “Janino-channeru” (now “Yonino-channeru”) at the commercial presentation for “Clear Asahi,” their first commercial appearance. From left: Ryosuke Yamada, Ninomiya, Yuichi Nakamaru, and Kikuchi.

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