Will MNL48 make it?
Posted Monday, 28 September 2015 // 22:15
Before I start, I would like to put a disclaimer. This article is about 100% conjecture and unless I post sources or proofs I don't claim these opinions to be factual (but I do feel strongly about these opinions ). Also, I was the one who made the MNL48 thing you see on the banner, I know it sucks but...well...
So, recently there have been news that the AKB family is going to expand here in the Philippines. As a Japanese music enthusiast and follower of idol trends this news has greatly piqued my interest. Mostly because I do want to see AKB here doing promotions or something for the auditions but for the subject of my eternal interest if Jpop is really going to make it into the Philippines.
1. Merchandise and Events
The Philippines, I think, is not that ready for something as big as a 48 group. Filipinos are not committed enough to continue supporting a group through buying merchandise and continuous attendance of events.
Filipinos are very stingy.
Yearly, there are a lot of anime conventions in the Philippines yet, these events had to implement a "no ticket no entry" policy since a lot of the con-goers would rather stay outside and chill rather than enjoy the convention that was organized. If you fail to see this analogy, let me clear it up. Filipinos are too cheap to buy something worth their money and time. They would rather find some cheap alternative to be able to enjoy things; if translated to MNL48 activities and merchandise it would mean that Filipinos would rather just download and/or illegally stream stuff than buy CDs and attend events.
I do think that the Philippines doesn't really have a very high rate of music sales be it digital or physical and if I remember correctly the ones that would usually sell at the top are Western foreign artists and these numbers wouldn't even exceed 100,000 copies in a week. With this, we can see that if MNL48 do decide to sell CDs they should expect a pretty low sales since firstly, they are under "OPM" even if they're...actually not... and secondly, nobody even buys CDs here. Even if the companies were to put the special lottery tickets on these CDs I doubt that the sales rate would change.
Well, you can say that they'll just channel the sales onto other products then. Well, I agree! I think that these products are more likely to sell better than CDs since they would be exclusive official merchandise but, as (all Filipinos) we all know unofficial merchandise is pretty rampant in the Philippines. These merchandise sell a lot less than the official merchandise since they don't have to go licensing issues or whatnot and because Filipinos are stingy, they would rather buy these things than the official merch (I have this happen to me on my kpop fandom ).
Next, let me move on to the problem of events.
As we all know the 48 family mostly perform on theaters. This is something which is unheard of in the Philippines.
Filipinos would rather sit in front of their TVs and watch their idols instead of commuting somewhere to just go and see them. I actually sympathize with this because our traffic is hell reincarnated and I'd really much rather sit in my home comfortably watching than having to endure an hour's worth of traffic.
This is pretty bad since a part of the 48 family's signature are these theatre performances and we would be missing out on this important thing.
Another gripe I have with theatre events is that Filipinos are really rowdy and I really think that if MN48 becomes something "maka-masa" theatre etiquette would be ignored and a lot of problems will happen. Unless of course we just stick with live streaming everything but, that brings me back to my first point of just "watching it at home".
We all know that the 48 family's main charm point is "idols you can meet easily!" well, that is actually pretty easy in the Philippines. Unlike other places, Metro Manila is actually pretty small and the places you can "hang out at" is pretty much known by everyone. So, let's say you're grocery shopping at some SM mall and you see your Oshi. Of course you're going to UN-HESITANTLY approach her for a picture or whatever. Being the nice person your oshi is, she obliges and you happily part ways and post the encounter on facebook or whatever.
You see, with these things happening the "exclusivity" of the handshake events are gone. These events are made because most fans are unable to meet their oshi and only with this event can they meet them; though you can attend these events by simply buying a CD but let's just focus on the point here--"You need to support them financially to be able to see them" is the point of handshake events BUT, in the Philippines you're going to get to meet them for free because everyone is really friendly.
2. Cultural Difference
Here's where the beef of my argument actually is and I actually want to go further research on this but I'll keep that to myself.
Firstly, the idol market here is more leaned on the Kpop side, and why? It's because they're more western compared to Japan. The western ideas and style of kpop resonate with Filipinos thus, they are more inclined to like kpop where as Jpop is mostly on it's own unique world--it's too unique for Filipinos to understand so they do not like it very much. Sure, there's a few fans here and there but we all know the majority of the "idol" fan base is with kpop.
Now, the very definition of "idol" is pretty much the same with Korea and Japan but, I do think that Japan has more stricter rules than Korea (see: Minegishi) but, the image of the idol is very different. In Korea idols are very "cool" while Japanese idols are "relatable". This means unlike Korean idols Japanese idols need not be perfect and I think that is a factor that can affect the Filipino fanbase.
Next, Filipinos don't really like other Filipinos succeeding (wag butthurt alam kong once in your life naramdaman mo din to lol--also opinion to pls dont be too butthurt) and if they do want other Filipinos to succeed it is because they have achieved some kind of international merit--this is really bad for the concept of a "relatable" idol since most Filipinos would think "what? I can do that stuff too! Even better!!"--while this can spark the desire to audition for MNL48 the fanbase itself would also be filled with people with the same thinking and that, I think is quite unhealthy. The crab mentality would eventually be a cause of downfall in the group since we all know the center is election based; this will cause a lot of drama and whatnot.
Next, Idol's private lives are usually kept in secret. Filipinos don't like that. We're all rumormongers; we survive on rumors about other people. This need for rumors would undoubtedly ruin the images of the pure idols. I have mentioned that talents in the Philippines are pretty much friendly and open about their lives; this is something idols can not do as they are supposed to maintain a pure and innocent image and anything that is pretty much "realistic" ruins that image. With the need of rumors, we are going to have a hard time setting up that image.
Lastly, Filipinos are bandwagon jumpers. Filipinos don't really stick to one fandom for a really long time. I am speaking for the "masa" and not really the otaku community since we all know you have your oshi's/waifus/whatever. Once the hype goes away it would be pretty hard for the girls to keep their careers afloat since a lot of people would easily move on to the next thing, forgetting that they even existed.
3. Poins I can't really categorize
As I have mentioned earlier, people are most likely to forget MNL once the hype is over this is mostly because how our media is structured. We only have 2 (or 3) major stations and these stations rely on "loyal talents" once a talent leaves the station they are easily branded as "someone who is not good" since they have "betrayed" their TV station. Now, 48groups aren't really loyal to TV stations. They go to a station who will fund them, and show them. This is the fate unless of course their organizers ties them to one station but, knowing their sheer number it's quite impossible that all the girls will get the exposure they need.
Old 48g fans vs New 48g fans
The elitism. I don't need to explain to be honest.
The positive thing I see about this that we're finally being noticed as a viable market for Jpop!
Soon, we're going to have other artists come here and do concerts!
To be honest, it is a sound market decision to invest in the Philippines right now; the market is now (once again?) openly accepting Japanese food and the culture that comes with it! As long as the management knows what it's going to do with the project I can see them over coming the problems I list above.
I actually don't know if they can to be honest but let's hope for more artists coming here!!
Until next time!
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