”Don’t watch this if you don’t want to have your dreams shattered,” warns one fan, but others have a very different response.

Just like the title suggests, singing only makes up half of what idol singers do. The rest of their professional activities are devoted to forming a pseudo-personal connection with fans, and in this day and age, one of the most reliable ways to do that is through video streaming.

These videos don’t have to be anything glamorous. If anything, the more mundane they are the better, since that everyday quality helps foster the girl-next-door image that idol fans are so constantly, and financially, supportive of. For example, in one of her recent videos casually dressed Bibian Murakawa, a member of Fukuoka-based idol group HKT48, she appears to be sitting on the floor of her living room, where she wraps things up with a friendly “OK I’m signing off. I’ll be streaming again tomorrow. Good night, everybody. Sweet dreams.”

Or at least she thought she was signing off. At the 37-second mark of the clip, posted through Twitter by @48gtosaka, the 18-year-old Murakawa puts her hand over the camera and fiddles with some unseen control on the video equipment, apparently believing the camera is now shut off. She lets her stage smile slide, fiddles with her phone, and leans back against the sofa before musing (in a much lower voice than she uses when speaking to her fans):

“So all I have to do to get 16,000 yen [US$144] is stream a video like that.”

That seems like a pretty sweet payday for a self-produced video filmed in the comfort of your own home, and an older-sounding woman, perhaps Murakawa’s mother (judging from the familiar tone of voice and Japanese vocabulary she uses) can be heard saying “If you do 10 a month, it’s the same as your monthly salary.”

“What?!? Seriously?” exclaims Murakawa, apparently having not already done the calculation herself. “That’d totally be like getting a bonus” she says before half-stifling a gleeful giggle.

Idols are often marketed with an aura of idealized purity, and revealing any motivation other than “I’m trying hard everyday so that my fans will smile” runs the risk of alienating a certain segment of the idol fan community. @48gtosaka himself warns “Don’t watch this if you don’t want your dreams shattered” in his tweet. However, the reaction on Twitter has been overwhelmingly understanding, and even supportive, with comments such as:

“It’s pretty natural to be happy over earning 16,000 yen. She seems like a good girl with a pure heart.”
“I’m just happy to know that she doesn’t say things like ‘Otaku are so gross’ after the cameras stop recording.”
“It’s not like she was dissing her listeners or anything.”
“If anything, I think more people will like her after this.”
“This is her job, after all. It’s the same as how a salaryman is happy if he gets a raise.”
“Idols are people too.”

Some readers also pointed out that a bit of quick math shows that if 10 videos a month would indeed earn Murakawa an amount equal to her regular salary, it means that her base pay for being an idol is a mere 160,000 yen (US$1,440) a month. With that sort of limited guaranteed income, an extra 16,000 yen makes a big difference, so her joy over the per-video payment may be less “Look how easy it is for me to get rich!” and more “This is helping me towards earning enough to make being a full-time idol economically viable.”

“Her salary is too low,” complained one commenter, though it’s possible that Murakawa has also has other incentive-based income aside from her individual video streams. Regardless of how much she’s making, though, she’s a professional, and everyone with a job likes getting paid, so Murakawa’s monetary motivations don’t look like they’re going to sink her idol ambitions.

Source: Gogo Tsuhin via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso