[Blog] Here’s to a Year

by Garry

Looking back over the site’s first year.

The Setup

Man, has it really been a whole year since I started up this humble little website here? I guess it really is true when they say that time flies when you’re having fun…or something like that. Show of hands, who actually thought this whole deal would still be around after 12 months? There were a few points where I certainly didn’t think it would happen but I guess life finds new and interesting ways of surprising you every now and then. Some of the time said surprises don’t end up being nasty or otherwise mentally/physically traumatizing either.

I don’t really know if anyone is going to bother reading through this whole thing I’m writing up here. It’s not going to be like the content that I usually post and if I’m being honest it’s going to be pretty self indulgent and perhaps inflammatory at times too. I have a rough outline of what I want to get said but apart from that everything is going to be pretty off the cuff and unedited (apart from spelling and grammar). If you’re down to read something like that then awesome, I greatly appreciate it. If not, no hard feelings and we’ll be returning to regular scheduled programming once I’m done here. Let’s just get right into things.

The Giving of Thanks

There’s a lot I want to say, but first of all and most importantly of all…thank you. Thank you to anyone who has ever read an article, liked or retweeted something on the site’s Twitter, left a comment, reached out to me to say hello or offer words of support, you guys get the idea. I’m super thankful that anyone out there would even take a minute or two out of their lives to give a damn about anything I have to say to be honest with you. I’m not trying to be professional with this whole thing or act like my opinions on music matter in the slightest but I must be doing something right because people keep coming back. Thank you to you all.

I’d also like to thank anyone who has used any of the affiliate links to purchase an item that let’s be honest they probably were already going to buy anyway, but I’d like to pretend something I wrote might have tipped the scales in some way. I don’t ask anyone for money, mainly because I’m a pretty proud person and I’m also fortunate enough to have a job so it’s definitely not a requirement for me to keep doing what I’ve been doing. That said, I was actually (just about) able to pay this past year’s hosting bill with the money earned from affiliate purchases so once again, thank you.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Mike, the guy responsible for all of those PV Roundups for contributing so much content, time, effort, etc into the site. He’s taking a well deserved break and neither of us are sure what the future holds on this particular front, but he knows the door is always open if he ever wants to write some articles and share them with you all. I don’t think the site would have grown as much as it did in the past 12 months without his contributions so it’s very important that he gets mentioned here.

Lastly, I’d also like to thank a lot of the other…I guess we’re kind of content creators right? Anyway, huge thanks to people like Homicidols, A to J, Terry, John, Kerrie and a whole host of other people that I’m no doubt being a terrible person by neglecting to mention here. Trust me, if you’ve helped me out in any way, we’ve had a positive interaction, anything like that a million times thank you. People like you give me a glimmer of hope for this community/fandom/whatever and I hope you all continue doing what you’re doing for a long time.

Finally, big shoutout to NECRONOMIDOL and their management for being cool enough to send me a review copy of their “From Chaos Born” EP that came out a while ago. I don’t go out of my way to score “free” stuff like that because I’m probably going to buy it anyway, but it’s pretty awesome when a group you’re a fan of reaches out to you because I guess they think I have any influence at all in this community. It probably seems silly to most you for me to be thanking a group for something like this, but gestures like that really mean a lot to me so I feel like it’s right to mention it here.

The Past Year

Where do I even begin here? I guess we’ll go from the beginning and no doubt jump around because my memory isn’t great at the best of times. So this site started at the beginning of February 2016 and it was something I’d had in the back of my mind for a while up to that point. The reason why it didn’t happen sooner was I guess I didn’t want to take the risk and in all likelihood fail, and I also had a somewhat complex situation going on with the site I was currently contributing to that had been bubbling away in the background for a while up to that point.

As some of you know, I used to contribute to a site called New School Kaidan. I was there for a pretty long time, and I had various roles from podcast personality to some kind of editorial type deal. It was a good time, but in the last year or so I just wasn’t really feeling it for a number of reasons. I guess the short version is that when I commit to something, I’m 100% in and I dunno why but I got the feeling maybe everyone else wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as I was. An abrupt change on that front actually lead to me leaving, but more on that in a moment. Basically, I got really unmotivated towards the end of my time there and I wasn’t really sure I even wanted to write anymore.

I guess I should also thank Dave, Tron and Dae for actually giving me a reason/excuse to finally get the hell out of that miserable situation. Nothing says “Thanks for keeping our website on life support for over a year” like being told you’re being relegated to a glorified contributor role (with a 1 article per week minimum) and that you have to sign a NDA and behave in a certain way on Twitter because apparently everyone wants to be professional all of a sudden. Like most things with that website, it didn’t last long and I’m not even sure any of those 3 are even involved there currently.

So I left NSK pretty amicably I thought. I just said I wasn’t really feeling the new direction and I couldn’t do their whole be professional deal if I wasn’t even getting paid for it. I bowed out and honestly, that’s the last I’ve really heard from pretty much everyone who was there at the time and are still there to this day. It’s a little disappointing I guess, but on the other hand it probably also speaks volumes to what they thought of me as a person right? Granted, I probably shouldn’t have posted their new code of conduct guidelines and NDA form (I’m not the only one who thinks that this is crazy right?) online for everyone to see. Ah well, water under the bridge right?

I launched this site quite literally within a day or two of leaving NSK. I’m pretty sure I “planned” everything out in a notebook on a 7am train journey back home from Glasgow or something. I’m not going to say I went into this with zero plan, but it was about as close as you could get. You’re probably wondering about the name right? There’s not much to it honestly, I just like the phrase a lot and I guess I did kind of figure that it would give me a handicap of sorts what with the “profanity” and being at odds with the fandom at large. I also hoped some people would come in expecting one thing and leave going “This site is actually pretty good”. Worst foot forward and all that.

When I was getting the site up and running I didn’t really have any goals in mind. I just still felt like I maybe wanted to write, even if it did just end up being mostly for myself. Of course I had some abstract concept of what sort of audience I would want as a minimum for it to be worth paying money for hosting, putting in the time, etc. The goal I think was something like 1000 hits per month or there about by the end of the 12th month. Well, the site did that in its first month which was insane to me and its done that every month since. It even recently just hit 20k pageviews so once again, thanks so much to you all.

Setting up shop on my own was a fairly…I don’t know if it was scary as such. I guess part of me did wonder if anyone would even care about what I was writing about now that I wasn’t with a “big name” website anymore. Maybe people only read my stuff because it had NSK branding on it, that was definitely a thought that crossed my mind. I had no idea what was going to happen, but thankfully pretty much everyone who had been reading my stuff has continued to do so. Might have even managed to pick up a couple more people along the way too. I also managed to lose some trolls in the process so I guess that’s pretty much the definition of a win-win situation.

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the early reviews on this site are pretty bad (I think so anyway) right? I think they’ve definitely gotten better over time but it’s interesting to look back even if it was only 12 months ago to see how my motivation has increased since then and the overall quality of the writing has too as a result. I’m also not having to deal with setting up an entire website by myself currently either which probably also helps things along a little. I’m genuinely enjoying what I’m doing right now and hopefully that shows in the content.

Besides all of the site stuff, I also managed to get myself over to Japan for the first time in 2016. I even wrote several posts about it on the website so you can obviously go back and check those out to see exactly what I got up to. I had an awesome time, but I didn’t really come home with the grand sense of enlightenment that some would have you believe you gain by having the money to buy a long-haul flight, but maybe I just didn’t do things right. I guess I’ll have another crack at it this November because I’m all booked up for 3 more weeks in Japan from the 1st to the 24th. More on that nearer the time though.

Looking back now, the last 12 months have been really good to me and I wish I’d done a lot of the things I did in the past year sooner. I’m in a much better place in a lot of aspects of my life so that’s pretty cool. I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied or figure out exactly what I want to do with the next 50 or so years I hopefully have left in me but right now I think it’s alright to be happy with what I have going on.

The State of the Fandom

This could probably be its own article all by itself, but I figure if I slip it in here then less people will notice and come after me with digital pitchforks. It’s also somewhat relevant to how I came to be where I am currently as well as where I see things going in the coming year or two, which is something I’ll come to in a moment here. If you’re not down to hear my thoughts on the fandom at large, feel free to scroll on down to the next section.

On the whole, I have some pretty mixed feelings on this whole fandom thing. I feel like I’m pretty fortunate that for one this site still flies under a lot of radars so I don’t have to deal with too much drama. The other websites I’m sharing space and readership with are also run by some pretty cool people so that’s a positive. I also think we all have fairly similar hopes for what our content is able to contribute to the greater goal of just introducing people to cool music. There also doesn’t seem to be much ego involved, or if there is then it’s certainly kept well hidden.

Unfortunately, the fandom still suffers from all of the problems its suffered from for the last however many years and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change very soon. Everything is all divided up into its little tribes or gangs, mostly consisting of grizzled veterans and impressionable young people who are trying to be cool or just don’t know any better. I do find it very encouraging how open a lot of the newer websites and content creators are to working together towards mutually beneficial goals though. It’s not like back in the day when people only worked together because they were getting something out of it, like press badges for conventions or whatever.

Sadly, old habits die hard. You still have stuff like Selective Hearing’s owner manufacturing drama between Morning Musume and AKB48 fans where there was none. I don’t think he likes me much anymore by the way. Nihongogo to be fair are trying to be a legitimate news website which is great, but there’s a relationship (business and friendship last I knew) between Selective Hearing, Nihongogo and NSK so if one doesn’t view you favorably then probably all of them don’t, because they’re all part of this “Old Boys’ Club” kind of thing. It is what it is, though thankfully no one really needs the support of any of those sites to be a positive influence on the community anymore.

On a tangentially related note, it’s also mildly disappointing to me that Tokyo Girls’ Update remains such a great bastion in the community. I don’t really have anything against the people who work there, I just find it to be in poor taste to charge people money to read your articles (the shoddy English notwithstanding). They also do that whole thing where a lot of their articles are clearly paid promotion for a product but they never actually disclose that this is the case. It just doesn’t sit well with me, but then again I’m the one running a website at a loss and I assume that the case is the opposite when it comes to TGU.

Another thing I’ve noticed recently is the rise of feminist or SJW rhetoric in the community. Sure it’s small and no big deal now but just keep your eye on it I guess is what I’ll say. Enjoy the next year or two as much as possible because we all know it’s going to darken our door eventually. There’s too many easy targets and causes to feel self-righteous about and let’s not even talk about the “horrors” that will be discovered by people attending the Olympics in 2020. Feel free to feel whatever way you want about those statements but I’m not having any of it on this website. I use this as a way to relax and don’t need politics spilling over into that.

So yeah, the fandom is still pretty messed up. The fact I tried to join the “Idolmetal & Alternative Idol” Facebook group the other week and was instantly banned because an admin who I’d never met or spoken to before didn’t like me or had a misconception about me shows we have a long way to go. There’s hope though, it’s just going to take an insanely long time for a lot of these dinosaurs to finally go extinct. Anyone know where I can find a meteor?

The Year Ahead

We started positively, then we had some doom and gloom and now hopefully we’re going to end things on a high note. I recently renewed the hosting for the site so unfortunately you’re all going to be stuck with me for at least another year. Who knows, maybe I’ll get bored before then or maybe the feminists will come for me and force me offline and into hiding. A lot can happen in 12 months but I’m hopefully going to be around to do another one of these in a year’s time.

As for what’s going to be going on over the course of the next year, for the most part I think I’m going to be staying the course. I have a pretty good system in place that makes it pretty easy to get at least one article out per week. I believe I did around 90 last year, which is pretty nuts but I enjoyed it greatly so I don’t see why I’d want to change anything too drastically. Yeah, let’s say a minimum of 1 article (review or otherwise) per week again for the next year and see what happens.

On the article front, while reviews are still very much going to be the primary focus I’m also looking at some other features that I can run from time to time to break up the monotony. The first of which being a quarterly round-up of non-idol Japanese music that I think is cool/interesting/whatever that you’ll be seeing towards the end of March or the beginning of April. People seemed receptive to the idea on Twitter so I’m giving it a shot. If you’re reading this and have any ideas for content or something you’d like me to write about, drop me a suggestion.

I’ve also been kicking around the idea of doing some kind of podcast. I like podcasts generally, but I don’t know if ones about idols are really that interesting. That could just be me though. My idea is basically to get me and a couple of people in call and we just listen along to an album or something and talk about it while it plays. The people listening can listen along with us and it’s just something a bit different. I don’t know if it’s going to come together or not, but it’s something I definitely want to at least try out.

Collaborations are another thing I would like to do more of in the coming year. I did the “Know Your BiStory” feature with Homicidols and a bunch of other people and it was a lot of fun. It’s hard to come up with really good ideas for this kind of thing but I’m pretty open to getting together with other content creators and making something cool happen. If you’re reading this and want to make something happen, you know where to find me.

Apart from that, like I said I’m not really looking to redesign the wheel or anything like that. I wouldn’t mind getting some more regular contributors for the website but let’s be honest, if you want to do that you pretty much have the pick of what sites you want to submit content to and I’m hardly the most appealing option. Still, if anyone’s got this far and has some opinions they want to get out into cyberspace, let’s talk about it.

The Closer

I’ve already written way too much and maybe 1% of you have made it this far so I’ll keep this part brief. I just want to thank everyone once again for their support with this stupid little website of mine. I write because I enjoy it, but it definitely gives you an extra shot of motivation to know that there are people out there who actually want to hear what you’re saying. Sure this fandom isn’t always sunshine and rainbows but life would be pretty boring if it was like that all the time. I’m fortunate enough to have found a great group of people and that’s honestly half the battle.

We now return to your regular scheduled programming.