Why the Japanese music industry is unique


The career of a Japanese music artist isn’t that different from the rest of the global music markets, with a single/album/tour/live release structure that pretty much follows the common concept of the worldwide industry. Despite being a similar process, though, it’s still way more exciting and lively if compared to the western scene. Here’s a question to sum up the matter: when was the last time you saw a physical single CD in a music store in your country? I bet a long time ago. It’s understandable, since the digital services gained huge popularity in the last years.

Japan is still extremely attached to concept of buying physical CDs, and this, combined with the persistent reluctance in using worldwide digital services, makes this industry pretty much “old school”, but way more alive at the same time. While in the rest of the world singles are exclusively released through digital download services, in Japan not only singles still get released on physical CD support, and promoted as an extremely awaited and important moment of a musicians’ career. When a mainstream single is released, you can find advertisements for it everywhere: on buildings and skyscrapers, on trains, on trucks driving in the most crowded streets of Tokyo, on TV, on the Radio and, of course, in music shops, where the biggest artists get extremely huge promotions. It’s honestly a beautiful sight to me, and a clear demonstration of how music in Japan is alive and a constant presence in everyone’s life.

Obviously, fans themselves play a fundamental role in the success of the release: for them, it’s important to catch all the performances and interviews on TVs, to analyze the concept behind the single and the art direction, from the outfits to the Music Video and the covers; they go to music stores the day before the release date, because they know that during Flying Get (that’s how this day is called) they will already find their favorite music shop adorned in huge ads and monitors promoting their favorite artists’ new release, usually available in at least two versions: of course they’ll go with the Limited Edition, cause it has an extra disc and, and they may even get a bonus poster with it!

It doesn’t matter if it’s a single, an album, or a Live Blu-Ray/DVD: this is happens every time a mainstream artist releases a piece of its discography. Compared to how things work in the western, reading all of this might be summed up in a single word: craziness.

But it’s not. And you know why? Because it’s your favorite artist. The person or group that writes your favorite songs, that conveys all those feelings to you with songs and melodies you would never stop listening. Or simply, the one that makes you feel good even in bad days, always fitting your mood perfectly. Music is one of the most important things in life, and the best you can do as fan is to support it as you can. It’s a form of gratefulness that has its roots in Japanese culture.

That’s why Japan is the second biggest music market in the world: because it’s maintained by artists and fans full of love and passion towards music, and everything that surrounds it. After all, can you imagine life without the music of your favorite artists? The slogan of the well known chain Tower Records summons all of this in the best way and answers all the questions: “No Music, No Life”.

– Alex