Are new members really what Passpo needs?

It was recently announced that Passpo is looking to add new members to the group. Right now their are 8 candidates up for full member status. Passpo is going to accept at least 1 member, but it is still possible that all 8 will be accepted making Passpo a 17 member group. Passpo’s next single will include a voting ticket for fans to choose which member they want to add. And the new member announcement will take place at Nakano Sun Plaza on March 31st.

Now, after Kaho graduated I didn’t think for one minute that they would be getting more members. Passpo seemed like a pretty stable group. And a fairly large one with with 9 members now that Mushu is gone. Since Kaho wasn’t exactly popular I didn’t really think that Passpo would really be taking a huge hit in popularity. And it’s not like the members of Passpo are getting too old by idol standards. They youngest member is 16 and the oldest is 20. Passpo is at a pretty good place, since the older members won’t have to worry about being told to graduate for another 4-5 years. So, the question then is: why are they even adding new members?

Usually when idol groups add new members it’s because of necessity. (Well, idol groups besides AKB48 and their sister groups) They add new members because members are leaving, like it was in S/mileage’s case. Or they add members because the current members are getting too old, like it was with Morning Musume. It seems like Passpo is adding members to increase their popularity. Which I don’t really think is the right way to go about it. It’s obvious that Passpo’s management is looking for a new girl or girls that will be at the level of popularity as Mio and Makoto are. Which is why they are going the very AKB48 route and asking fans to pick. But are a group of Mios really enough to make the entire group popular? I don’t really think it works that way. An idol group has to reach a certain popularity level before one member will determine how much the group sells. If your group is only selling around 45-50,000 copies, like Passpo does, it pretty much shows that even the most popular members aren’t influencing the sales that much. You’d have to sell around 100,000 or more for any one member to really matter. Case and point KAT-TUN. KAT-TUN for a while, before Jin left, was selling a lot of singles. Over 300,000 copies sometimes even over 400,000 copies. Making them the 2nd most popular Johnny’s group at the time. The last single with Jin sold 439,736 copies and the first single without him sold 255,618 copies. A difference of 184,118. Which is a substantial drop. Now, let’s say Mio and Makoto left the group tomorrow. I’d say we’d see about a 25,000 maybe 30,000 drop in Passpo’s sales. If it’s even that. I know they are the most popular members, but are their fanbases really even that large? I think it’s giving them too much credit. But for the sake of arguing let’s say it is. Now, that’s a pretty big drop, considering what they sell now. But if Passpo as a whole was a more popular group a loss that size is nothing. Well, the number of Mio and Makoto fans would also increase, but you get my point. Being the most popular member of a group that hardly sells isn’t that big of a deal.

Let’s say Passpo does find this amazing star member, she’ll at most increase their sales by about 20,000. So, that would bring Passpo’s sales up to about 70,000. Which still isn’t a very large number. Right now Passpo seems to be selling roughly the same amount for each release, they aren’t really growing beyond that. The only way to do that is to build the group itself up. To make the group gain interest to have them continue to steadily gain fans. Keeping the same amount of fans as the release before isn’t really progress.

Yeah, adding members might give the group some media attention for the time being. But once the new members are added the media will pay as much attention to Passpo as they always do, which isn’t really all that much. The only way for Passpo to actually sell more is to work for it. No idol group magically started selling a million copies. AKB48 is at the level they are at because of constant work. TV shows, radio shows, fan involvement, and brilliant marketing. The only way Passpo, or any other idol group for that matter, will ever follow suit is to do the same. Obviously with their own unique take on it. Maybe having the fans vote is something you’d expect from AKB48, and maybe it even seems like a rip off, but whatever helps the group, does it really matter? In the current AKB48 dominated idol world it’s hard for any idol group to not get swallowed up by them. Maybe AKB48 like tactics will entice new fans, but it’s the aspects of the group that aren’t like AKB48 that will keep the fans.

The management said that they are also trying to improve Passpo. To make their events and lives better. To get featured on more TV shows and in more magazines. And if they are using new members as the jumping point to do all of that, more power to them. If they see new members as a way for Passpo to reinvent themselves and garner more attention, then let them do it. I honestly don’t see the point in adding new members, but if it’s going to help make Passpo be the best they possibily can be, then I’m at least going to be open minded to the whole new members thing. Maybe us fans will be pleasantly surprised. Maybe the new members will be better than expected and open new doors for Passpo. It’s worth a shot at least. At least Passpo’s staff sees some flaws in Passpo and are trying to inprove them. Do I think the members are what needs improvement? Not really. But am I going to condemn the new member or members before I even give then a chance? Absolutely not.