Meet The Most Popular YouTuber in Japan

By Ai Hasegawa : Reporter of Toyokeizai
October 12,2014
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Japanese youtube star ,HIKAKIN

YouTubers, the stars of video-sharing website Youtube are basking in the spotlight. These are the people who have accumulated a passionate fan base through original videos showing off their unique talents.

4.45 million people to watch HIKAKIN.

Twenty-five year old HIKAKIN has become the most popular YouTuber in Japan, especially with young people. Known as the “human beatbox” for using his mouth as a musical instrument, his break-out video showed him recreating the music from the popular video game Super Mario Brothers. Currently he releases humor-filled videos on a daily basis with gameplay commentary and product introductions. More than 4.45 million people have registered to watch HIKAKIN’s videos and the cumulative views of all his videos combined exceeds 1.1 billion views.

In July of this year his popularity with young people was evident during the promotion of a new product from Yamaha Motor Company, the 3-wheeled scooter Tricity 125. Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. invited HIKAKIN on a test drive of their new product and gave a video report on how it went.

It was a big hit. In just half a day the video broke 600,000 plays, with the video receiving many comments such as, “I want to ride this,” and “That’s so cool!” From a cost standpoint they were able to hold the cost down to just a few yen per view instead of the 100-300 yen cost for each click of a web banner advertisement. Speaking about the aim of choosing HIKAKIN, Mr. Ken Nonaka from the Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. Public Relations Department stated, “The loss of interest in motorcycles among young people is a serious issue. That is why we believed that YouTube, with many viewers in their teens and twenties, would be a good place for young people to learn about our new products as well as learn about Yamaha as a manufacturer.”

In addition to this, female YouTuber Asahi Sasaki introduced Fuwa Latte, a powdered drink from Nestle Japan by connecting it with makeup skills and YouTuber and actor Koji Seto promoted Yomeishu products with a cheerful rap, further increasing the number of companies using YouTube.

The context for this change is that there is now a class of people who will not receive their information from television commercials. People who frequently watch YouTube videos have a tendency not to watch many television programs. As a result, there is a shift of viewers who are mostly in the younger age bracket moving from TV to YouTube. In addition, instead of television commercials regularly costing hundreds of millions of yen, these companies can broadcast their videos at a much lower cost but with a higher degree of advertising effectiveness.

Top class YouTubers such as HIKAKIN are able to make a living by posting videos on YouTube. The source of their income comes from advertising income generated by the advertisements that play before and during a video as well as from video production fees involved with tie-ups with advertisers such as Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. In America and Europe where the influence of YouTubers is even larger their yearly income can teach hundreds of millions of yen.

YouTuber Management Companies

The largest advertising income based off of the number of times a video has been played would be a standard of about 100,000 yen for 1 million views. JET DAISUKE, a popular YouTuber who creates product review videos clarified that, “It’s pretty hard to make a living with nothing but YouTube video advertising income. You need plans to tie-up with a company.”

Amidst this situation companies who bridge the gap between YouTubers and companies have appeared. One of those companies is uuum, established June of 2013 as Japan’s first management company exclusively for YouTubers.

Twenty-nine YouTubers are with them, including HIKAKIN and JET DAISUKE. The YouTubers can focus on creating videos while the company establishes plans for tie-ups with companies and handles media reports for the YouTubers.

Mr. Kazuki Kamada , president of uuum sees that, “We are moving from the Mass Media age to an age where individuals are the media.” He states that currently only a few of the top YouTubers make enough to make a living off of it, however, as the activities of these YouTubers expand their personal power to communicate is approaching the influence of the mass media with the possibility of even surpassing it.