Japan is one of the most enigmatic markets in music. On the one hand, it is still a very healthy market indeed – with notably high sales of CDs. On the other, it seems almost impenetrable, due to the language and cultural difference which mean that local sales far outstrip international artists.
So close and yet so far in many ways.
Japanese music publishers at Midem
Last year, the energetic Music Publishers Association of Japan (MPAJ) at Midem hosted a fascinating workshop with Marty Feldman, who described the fundamental differences between composing for Japan and composing for interntional markets (little aside, what he said reminded me about what I know about the Italian pop scene of the seventies and eighties).
In 2014, MPAJ and JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) again intend to host information sessions that will notably include a song pitching workshop with a range of experts from the music industry to provide you with detailed tips on how to succeed in the Japanese market.
Remember, Japan is VERY different. So getting direct feedback will help you get a clear insight into how the market works. They will also have an “Experience Zone” next to the Japan Stand. There, you’ll get the chance to understand the music model discussed at the Japan Stand through experiencing Karaoke and Pachinko game first-hand. This is because Japan is constantly creating new formats that incorporate music. Tapping into these can be very lucrative.
The events are followed by an afternoon saké party (a little early for me, but always a pleasant opportunity to do some networking).
For details, visit the MPAJ website.
Last year’s events were well attended, so it might be advisable to confirm attendance.
So what’s the big problem with Japan? Several things – record companies are happy with the huge domestic sales racked up by the bands under their control (literally); the language barrier is a problem, with few Japanese feeling comfortable speaking or singing in English; and the fact that there is no market for the vast majority of Japanese pop music outside of Asia (other Asian countries have a strange admiration for all things Japanese, including the music).