You’re an Arashi fan if you know what, or rather, who inspired the title for this post. No less than the resident brat of course, Ninomiya Kazunari, one-fifth of Arashi.
And yes, J-Storm was a little small little small little small label when it was launched in 2002 to produce Arashi’s future singles and albums. Arashi was under Pony Canyon, which released their debut album Arashi no Ichigou, from 1999-2001. But starting with their sophomore album, Here We Go!, they moved to J-Storm.
Perhaps, Johnny’s saw the potential given the impressive performance of Arashi’s debut album in the charts (it reached platinum status selling more than 300,000 copies then) so the mother company was quick to decide to form an independent label. [Edit: In the comments below, yuui and Rena pointed out that it was because Pony Canyon signed up W-inds, another boy band, so Johnny’s decided to pull out Arashi; a decision that on hindsight, turned out for the best.]
Unfortunately, the sales of Arashi’s albums in the next five years until 2006 were on the decline and sold only 100,000++, never reaching platinum status. These years are otherwise known as the “dark years” of Arashi.
In 2007, things started to look up with Time selling more than 300,000 copies and putting them back in the platinum category. The album includes Love So Sweet, one of the group’s biggest hits and was used as the theme song for HANA YORI DANGO 2.
Seven years later, J-Storm has become the fourth highest grossing record label in Japan, only behind established companies Avex (17.1%), Sony (13.9%) and Universal (12.2%). J-Storm took up 7% of the market share, not bad for a label that started out as little small little small little small.
In fact, in more ways than one, it is still a little small company, with only senpais TOKIO and kouhais Hey Say Jump as its artists aside from Arashi. Of course, aside from music, it also produces movies including the PIKANCHI franchise, Arashi’s debut film released in 2002, the sequel in 2004 and the third installment last year.
J-One, the label for Kat-tun, was launched in 2006. Last year, Infinity Records, was launched as the label for Kanjani8. Both labels are subsidiaries of J-Storm.
To summarize the releases of J-Storm in 2014 according to artists (including the two subsidiaries):
Hey Say Jump!
Oricon named Arashi as Artist of the Year (2014) for topping revenues. They earned a total 13.82 billion yen (US$116.4 million) from their CD and DVD sales.
The breakdown of their 2014 sales:
Now, consider this: Avex has more than 100 (I stopped counting at 100) artists under it including Hamasaki Ayumi, Exile and big K-pop stars. Same can be said for Sony Music Japan and Universal Music Japan with a lot of big name artists under them too so it’s no surprise that the Big Three will dominate the market.
And now here comes little-small-big label J-Storm. Isn’t it indeed amazing to think that what started out as a small company dedicated to producing records for Arashi grew into the fourth biggest label in Japan? Of course, no doubt with the help of the other artists now under J-Storm too.
I just hope that Arashi have shares in the company because I would hate to think that all the fangirls’ “investment” wouldn’t even go to their retirement, and to assure that Nino could still pay his taxes even when he’s not working anymore, and the rest to enjoy the lifestyle they are used to (you know, Jun will always be fashionable even when he’s 58).
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