SMAP comes to Japan’s aid

(This post is dedicated to @ailamarie)

SMAP, the grandfather of Japan’s boy bands (particularly those from Johnny’s), has released a compilation album on August 17.

The album, SMAP Aid, consists of singles from various albums including the Mandarin version of Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana (The Only Flower in the World), which they sang during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Tokyo in May.

This is one of my favorite songs from the band.

The album costs 3,570 yen (about $50) with 200 yen ($2.60) going to Marching J, a charity fund that Johnny’s Jimusho has set up to help the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Now, this catty article from Time Out Tokyo can’t help point out the sukoshi amount that goes to the charity fund. And it goes on to mention that Arashi did not even give a single amount from the proceeds of its latest album, Beautiful World.

This may strike some as a purely semantic point, but it hasn’t actually been marketed as a charity album – and we didn’t see anyone calling fellow Johnny’s act Arashi stingy when they donated a whopping ¥0 per copy for the recently released Beautiful World, did we?

The writer apparently has forgotten that Arashi did Waku Wakku Gakou, a series of charity shows held from June 24-26 at the Tokyo Dome, with part of the proceeds going to Marching J. Those dates were supposed to have full-concerts of the group but due to the disaster, they decided to hold the school-themed charity event instead. Also, the group’s Nippon no Arashi textbook has sold out and they decided to print a pocket-size version with the revenues going to charity.

So I don’t know why Time Out Tokyo would pick on Arashi. Maybe because they’re famous?

Everyone’s trying to help. And before the writer questions why Arashi has not donated a single amount from their latest album or that SMAP is donating only $2.60 per album sale, maybe ask first where album revenues go?

The manufacturing cost to produce a CD is broken down to the following: a) royalty for artists, b) royalty for composers, c) cost of production (album itself) and d) advertising. Now, if the artist is signed up with a company, that company’s cut also adds up to the cost. Then what about the mark-up to the distributor? We are not even talking here of the nitty gritty production costs like make-up artists, costumes, logistics, the staff you have to pay, etc.

These articles give an insight on how much is spent to produce a single CD and where the revenues go.

Sure, I don’t think it will be a problem for artists like SMAP or Arashi to donate the ENTIRE revenue from their album sales. It is good PR. But do they make that decision? No. And if we want them to donate more than $2.60 that means the cost of the CD would be higher. Would that be beneficial to the fans, some of who may not be able to afford a CD that already costs $50?

It’s easy for people to crucify artists for donating what they think is a pittance. But do look at the bigger picture before yakking.

P.S. What’s wrong with SMAP having a bonus track of the Mandarin version of a song ahead of its first performance overseas, in Beijing? If that would boost the sales of a charity album, who’s complaining? Time Out Tokyo? How very uncharitable.

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