By Lee Parsons, Founder of Ditto Music.
As founder of Ditto Music, an online music distribution service. I was recently asked to undertake a learning expedition to Japan and present my company to the Japanese music market.
Here are 8 facts that will blow your mind about the Japanese Music Market:
- It is ILLEGAL to sell a CD for less than $25 in Japan
- The CD market in Japan is still the biggest making up over 80% of the market, but not just sales....
- The majority of Japanese consumers 'rent' the latest CD. They rip it and then take it back.
- The biggest group in Japan is called AKB48. They have 89 members and had record sales of over $226 million. A large percentage of the music industry revenue as a whole is JUST from AKB48.
- The Japanese digital market is small but growing. Spotify have had Japanese offices since 2011 but have so far been unable to launch.
- Product placement is king in Japan. Unlike the western world where certain practises are frowned up, it is considered an honour to be in the latest TV advert for washing powder or any other product or service
- Advertising is old school. Billboard vans drive around Tokyo blasting out music from their latest artists
- Japan remains a strongly cash-based society. On average, only four credit card transactions are undertaken per person per year! This poses big problems for online services.
How to get gigs in Japan
Japanese music promoters work the same as any other country, they want to sell tickets. If you aren't well known in the market then unless you book the venue and sell tickets yourself you may struggle to organise gigs. Our advice is to contact Japanese artists and see if they will help you out. Plenty of Japanese artists would love the chance of getting exposure in whatever country you live in, so a kind of exchange system would work really well. Work with each other and you will be surprised at the results. Myspace is still very popular in Japan so get retro, create an account and start some conversations.
Gaining Japanese Fans
If you are spending all of your time promoting your band in your hometown it could be time to think outside of the box. Japanese culture is very similar to others, they use Twitter and Facebook heavily and have a great respect for western music. The language barrier can propose a problem but a lot of young Japanese, especially in Tokyo have a good knowledge of English. And that doesn't stop you brushing up on your Japanese.
The key to any new market is hard work. While a lot of artists may see the obstacles, with such a small percentage of people truly spending the time to build their Japanese market, there is a massive opportunity for the ones who do.
Further Information, visit Export to Japan
Ditto Music – Wired Japan Feature