Japan's virtual YouTubers make millions from fans

By Tomohiro Osaki

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Do the voice actresses really get all the money the fans are sending, or is it the talent agency. I'm pretty sure it is the agency.

5 ( +16 / -11 )

No way are they keeping much of the money. The parasitic agencies get most of it. The only way for a woman in Japan to get paid more than their agency is to enter AV; hence the huge numbers that do.

-1 ( +12 / -13 )

All nine are affiliated with one Tokyo-based talent agency, 

Why would a YouTuber need to be part of a talent agency, that's crazy. Drop those low life's and do it yourself. I hate these monopolies that exist in Japan, it's dirty.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Why would a YouTuber need to be part of a talent agency, that's crazy.

Right, this is the whole point of YouTube.

Japan is land of the talent agency though.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

@TokyoJoe, i am not sure how this agency treat their talents, but there is no need for you to bash talent agencies in general. Most of them does do some good in helping training talents and providing the necessary equipment and promotion strategies. Is not always just the talent that manage to accomplish the whole thing. Behind the character, there is a whole group dedicated to help them get where they are now. To teach them what to say and what they cannot say, to what activity they do etc.

If you think you can just rely on your own in life doing everything yourself, then clearly you are too arrogant.

-3 ( +11 / -14 )

@Hiro back at ya

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Companies and "agencies" are behind these not individual people

-4 ( +2 / -6 )


No way, talent agencies in Japan are well known for abusing their clients rights, when not physically, keeping most of the generated income.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

While it’s cool to have a hobby, that car parts dealer needs a life. I can’t understand people who live online.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If people paid me for my post,I would be a billionaire,

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Some of you seem to think Youtube is the same now as when began. It is not. In 2015 Youtube announced they wanted to be a advert generating entertainment provider.

These folk need the agency to pay Youtube to push their post into the recommendation feed and for paid ads pointing to their channel. In return Youtube pays the agency a portion of the ad revenue.

So the agency pays Youtube Japan 100,000 Yen for a video to be pushed in the recommendation feed and ads. When the video has reached 1 Million views Youtube pays the agency through Youtube monitization 200,000 Yen of the 10,000,000 Yen the posted vid created for Youtube. The agency then pays the "talent" 5% of the 200,000 Yen.

So the "talent" has to pump out content daily to make a living.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Nice article for getting hindsight of that world.

An only virtual life leads to social crashing for the vast majority.

Why would anyone be attracted to a virtual character ? Real people are so nice to discuss with.

People can do as they wish but since it is virtual, there is no life progress : family making, new real friends you can count on, discovery by traveling...

Nice hobby but better it stays a hobby.

About talent agencies, it is just cultural. Japanese are known to specialize and not be multi-skilled, and think they need to stay in a group hierarchical structure to simply exist even if it means a kind of modern enslavement. So be it.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The videos are designed to make fans feel they are interacting directly with their favorite animated idols -- with viewers sometimes paying hundreds of dollars to have a single comment highlighted on a livestream.

This is honestly quite sad. Paying hundreds of dollars to interact with an animated character and have their comment highlighted? There are better ways to spend money and definitely better ways to spend one's time.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Life is so bad, so sad that this is their best option? Every time I dance in my lounge room I give myself ¥1000 to spend on alcohol, think I’m probably happier then these people. “Ah oh” Wife home have to take off her undergarments quick.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

time wasting to watch these "tarento",hald adult half naive half not smart look....all just BS

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Sorry but most of them are dirt poor. The vast majority of money goes to talent agencies. Talents and actresses in Japan usually only get a stipend of less than 100,000 yen a month, and are often in contracts with many ways to owe a lot of debt to the agency for many mundane things. It is not uncommon for talents to be in 10s of millions of yen in debt to their agency. Even quitting is not an option as there’s often clauses in the contract for the agency to claw back “investments” which is often several 10s of millions yen. Even the most famous talents and actresses barely makes over 10M yen annually. Talent and entertainment industry in Japan is one of the most exploitive industries in Japan.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Some assumptions and "not knowing" here. Why VTubers are working for an agency? Very simple, reach! Thousands of independent VTubers hang out with concurrent viewer numbers between 2 and 50 (and many then also give up at some point), while a Hololive VTuber (the agency that the article did not want to name) starts nowadays with 50000 to well over 100000 viewers and subscribers to debut. Within a few months to exceed even the 1 million subs is no longer a rarity. There is a reason why these VTubers are in the top ranks of superchats.

About what the talents themselves earn, there are of course no exact figures, more guesses and conclusions from one or the other comment, but from a SC 30% goes to YouTube, rumors to follow about the same share or even 35% (half of the rest after YT's share) to the agency, the rest gets the talent (should then be so 35 to 40% of the original sum). Of course there are taxes and co. on top of that. Of course you can't live on that forever, but I get the impression that at least this talents can live on it quite well. Especially since many of them additionally earn money for merchandise, music or even concerts.

Hololive, by the way, is - by fans - considered one of the agencies that really take care of their talents, even if not everything is perfect there. Is this really so? Well, I guess we can't be 100% sure.

Finally, the term "voice actor" may be technically correct, but I don't really like it. It's more than that somehow. Even though each talent decides for itself how much of its real person comes out (and some are pretty open), as a rule a character is dead (or graduated, as they say in VTuber and idol circles) as soon as the person behind it stops. You can't just say, for character X, we'll get a new actor. Most fans wouldn't accept that. Examples are Coco from Hololive (who quit of her own accord and is now quite successful as an independent streamer and VTuber) and Uruha Rushia (from whose "actor" they parted because of contract violations).

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2 ( +2 / -0 )

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