Japan Music Marketing Promotion and Distribution Resources  

Selling and Promoting Your Music in Japan
Japan Music Marketing Resources for foreign record labels, bands and artists

|Home|Articles|Web/Mobile Marketing|Distribution in Japan|Japan Live Tour|Promotion|Free Resources|Members Resources|


Articles about The Music Market in Japan - How to Make it "Big in Japan"

1. Japanese Market Opportunity for Foreign Music - If you are in the business of selling music, do not forget Japan!
2. The Music Business in Japan
- Indie Music Culture and Record Companies in Japan
3. Playing Gigs in Japan - Promoting your music at Japanese "Live Houses" and other venues
4. How Much Does It Cost? - The activities and related costs of selling and promoting your music in Japan
5. Useful Tips On Visiting and Doing Business in Japan - Info and advice for visiting and doing business in Japan


The Music Market in Japan - How to Make it "Big in Japan" (About Author)

Article 1:

Japanese Market Opportunity for Foreign Music

Japan is the world's largest music market and represents over a quarter of the world's total sales of recorded music. With a billion-dollar-a-year digital music market, Japan represents an excellent revenue opportunity for foreign artists, bands and record labels who are able to get digital distribution in popular Japanese internet and mobile stores.

Global Share of Sales of Recorded Music

See more music industry statistics at the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) website and International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) website

Japan has an affluent, westernized and modern society with a population of about 127 million people. Just Metropolitan Tokyo-Yokohama has a population of 35 million. Every year, Japan accounts for millions of dollars in music revenues for many record labels, artists and bands from around the world. If you are in the business of making and selling music then Japan is your major market and should not be ignored.

Although overall CD sales are declining, annual CD imports (physical audio recordings) into Japan numbered about 40 million units in 2011 and represents about 20% of all sales in Japan. That means almost 1 in every 5 CD albums sold in Japan is from a foreign artist. The leading suppliers of CD's imported into Japan from Western countries are the USA, the UK and Germany. In 2011, almost 45% of new CD album releases were from foreign artists.

In the fall of 2011, the flagship HMV store in Shibuya, Tokyo closed its doors forever as more music consumers prefer to buy and download their music on their mobile phones. Many young Japanese (who make up the largest music-spending group) have never used a CD before and don't even own a CD player. Due to the advanced mobile phone culture in Japan, about 80% of digital music sales are from traditional mobile phones (keitai) while 20% are from internet downloads (smartphones, tablets and computers).

With the focus on digital sales, foreign indie artists, bands and record labels can easily enter the Japanese music market and spend their budget on advertising and promotion rather than manufacturing, shipping, and warehousing CD's. Now there are resources and services available to break down language, distance and technical barriers, making it easier to take advantage of this market opportunity.

Many foreign indies have been able to achieve a level of sales and fame in Japan that matches or even surpasses that in their home countries.

Japanese Music Consumers - Will they buy my music in Japan?

Japanese listen to and buy music from many diverse countries and do not discriminate by nation, language or race.

Japanese music fans are not that different than fans in the West, except the preconceptions of what is "cool" or "uncool", and stereotypes do not apply. In the West, preconceptions and stereotypes about music are shaped by media and peers. This is not the case in Japan as there are rarely any negative preconceptions attached with foreign music or artists. For example, Japanese people do not think or say "Disco Sucks!" or "Country music is for country folk!" or "Bon Jovi is not cool anymore". What may seem obscure, "uncool" or outdated in your country may not be so in Japan.

On Japanese mainstream radio you can hear an eclectic mix of music in Japanese, English, Spanish, and French from famous as well as unknown artists (maybe even from your own country). Even if the words cannot be fully understood, it is often the image, mood, style, and culture of the music and the personality of the artists that appeals to Japanese music consumers.

The Arctic Monkeys, Susan Boyle, Crystal Castles, Avril Lavigne, Norah Jones, Beyonce, Anvil, Sum41, U2, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and many other foreign artists all sing in English (and other languages) and they have a strong fanbase and sales in Japan. So language is definitely not a barrier between consumers and foreign music.

Naturally, the younger generation are influenced by pop culture from the West. Whatever is trendy in the USA and UK will eventually be embraced by the people of Japan in their own special way. With the 25+ generations, current pop culture is not so much an influence. There are niche groups in all kinds of music. And since Japan is a large population, these niche groups can be large (even more than in your own country). There are fans of country, bluegrass, jazz, Hawaiian, Brazilian/Latin, gothic, punk, house, emo, death metal, hip hop, rap, neo-soul, gospel, etc. Fans in Japan tend to be the best fans in the world since they are very eager to participate and learn everything about anything having to do with a particular genre of music and artist. They are more likely to discover and connect with foreign artists that offer info, content and support in the Japanese language.

(Click here to read an interesting article on how Roots and Bluegrass music became popular in Japan.)

Sometimes people in the West are surprised when they find out that one of their own local bands is "big in Japan". Many people scoff at this distinction and the phrase "big in Japan" has become somewhat of a joke. But when you consider Japan is one of the world's largest music markets, even "small in Japan" can mean big revenues for that band. Surely, any indie band selling a few thousand CD's and downloads, and getting recognized in Japan does not consider it a joke. They are probably laughing at all the other bands that have ignored Japan completely.

There are bands and labels from all over the world (some that have not even set foot in Japan) that are selling a few hundred, some a few thousand, and some a few million dollars worth in music to Japan each year. They are hard-working bands and labels that are smart and understand the global music business.

Currently, the most popular genres of music in Japan are foreign and domestic hiphop, RnB, alt rock, hard rock, metal, punk, techno, house, dance/club, classical, and jazz. However, there is a demand for music with foreign ethnic origins such as African-American ("Black") gospel, soul, funk, and blues, as well as reggae, world, healing (new age), Hawaiian, and Brazilian/Latin music.

A notable change in the Japanese music industry has been the ongoing weakening of the traditional pattern whereby young "manufactured" pop idols drive the market with million-selling hit songs. Also, consumers age 30 to 55 years old are purchasing more music than ever before. Such consumers do not follow youth trends or fads, and demand more diverse music products for mature tastes. This market demand can be supplied by music products from foreign artists.

Recently, independent labels and artists—once the focus of only a small number of hardcore fans—are growing in popularity as the music demands of consumers are becoming increasingly diverse. The distribution and sales systems in Japan for "indies" are now better established—making it possible for successful indie artists to sell multi-platinum in Japan.

As is the case around the world, overall sales of CD's are declining while digital music sales as well as licensing for film/TV and compilations are providing a growing source of revenues for both foreign and domestic artists.

Foreign and domestic indie artists can take a DIY (do-it-yourself) approach by forgoing traditional distributors and sell CD's, merchandise and digital content directly to Japanese consumers via the internet. Although promotion is still a challenge, it is easier now to distribute music to consumers all over the world. The internet is an essential tool for promotion. Also, playing shows at "live houses" and other venues is still the best promotion in Japan. Read more about playing gigs in Japan in Article #3 of this website.

Next Article

Quick Links

Get distribution in Japan

Promotion in Japan

Find a Japanese record label to release your music

Send your demo to Japanese record companies

Do a live tour in Japan

Create a Japanese web + mobile site

Links to Live Houses (Venues) in Japan

See what foreign artists are "Big in Japan"


Articles about The Music Market in Japan - How to Make it "Big in Japan"

1. Japanese Market Opportunity for Foreign Music - If you are in the business of selling music, do not forget Japan!
2. The Music Business in Japan
- Indie Music Culture and Record Companies in Japan
3. Playing Gigs in Japan - Promoting your music at Japanese "Live Houses" and other venues
4. How Much Does It Cost? - The activities and related costs of selling and promoting your music in Japan
5. Useful Tips On Visiting and Doing Business in Japan - Info and advice for visiting and doing business in Japan

All articles are copyright and the property of JICS. Articles may not be republished in whole or in part without the written consent of JICS and its authors.


Click Here to Make it Big in Japan

Everything you need to start selling and promoting your music in Japan

Japanese Web+Mobile Site
Japanese Press Sheet
Advertising and Promotion in Japan
Contacts for Japanese distributors, booking agents, tour organizers, record labels...

Simply fill out a short online form to set up.
Quick and easy! You don't need to know any Japanese!
Click to see sample web+mobile site and more details

Current Date and Time in Japan


|Home|Articles|Web/Mobile Marketing|Distribution in Japan|Japan Live Tour|Promotion|Free Resources|Members Resources|

The Indie Bible: Music Promotion and Marketing Tool Find Booking Agents and Venues
COPYRIGHT © 1996 - 2014 JICS MEDIA
JICS