Japanese Idol Group AKB48 Enters Chinese Market



(Yicai Global) Dec. 12 -- AKS Group, the managers of AKB48, the largest and most successful idol group in Japan, is to set up a joint venture, AKB48 China, in Shanghai, with the company officially entering the Chinese market next year.

This is the first move made by the Japanese artist agency in China after its breakup with its Chinese partner Star48 in June this year.

Established in 2005, AKB48 first made its name as a large idol girl group in Akihabara, the base of anime culture in Tokyo. Today, the group has more than 450 members and has been included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest pop band in the world. AKB48 have sold more than 40 million singles as of September, 2016.

Chinese investors for the deal include Chinese music site operator, Kuku Music Group and China Capital Zhongcai Fund Management Co., AKS said in a press release Dec. 10.

During their first year in China, AKB48 group members will star in teen movies and TV dramas in China and an AKB48 mobile game will be released in summer next year. Chinese real estate developer Greenland Group will also build a dedicated theatre for the idol group, for concerts and a forum to meet and greet their fans.

In 2012, AKS licensed Shanghai Star48 Media Co. to create a similar idol group in China. The Chinese company established SNH48, the Chinese equivalent of AKB48, and several sister groups in Beijing and Guangzhou, copying AKB48’s operating model including the image design, performance in small theatres, meet and greets and the general election concept, whereby girls graduate from the group to other media.

In June 2016, AKS announced that Star48 had breached the contract and revoked their license, claiming that the operating tactics were protected intellectual property, and should not be copied by Star48 without authorization.

However, the Shanghai company insisted the model was part of the technical cooperation and did not involve any intellectual property rights.