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The Covid-19 pandemic may be encouraging the Japanese music industry to look outwards more, according to Tatsuya Nomura, president of the Federation of Music Producers Japan (FMPJ).

Speaking at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit Global online conference today, he described how the pandemic came at a sensitive moment in Japan’s transition from a recorded music market dominated by sales, to one driven by streaming.

“The timing was very bad, however with this situation, the number of Japanese music industry people who take a process of trial and error to tackle the problem is increasing,” he said.

“I think there has been a lot of self-reflection among Japanese music industry people around expanding our business worldwide,” he added, citing the global success of Korean artists BTS and Blackpink as inspiration for the Japanese industry.

“Looking at those K-Pop examples, the Japanese music industry has realised how Japanese artists have lost their global perspective over the years,” he said. “With that in mind, we are now shifting our focus to how we should distribute Japanese music content overseas.”

“Until recently, Japanese music and artists were in a situation where we could make enough money to sustain a business just within the domestic market. However, the business scheme of the physical market has collapsed, and entering the streaming business era, we are now realising that the reproduction business cannot sustain itself only by aiming at the domestic market.”

He added that the fact that the Japanese music industry is now motivated to focus more on the international market “could be a silver lining for us in the future” from Covid-19.

Nomura also suggested that Covid-19 has been an important moment in the Japanese industry’s transition from sales to streaming, citing popular artist Kenshi Yonezu as a key example. He made his music available on streaming services for the first time in early August, including his latest album.

“This was a really big moment in Japan, and I think this could be a catalyst for the Japanese music industry to shift from the physical business to the streaming business,” said Nomura.

He also talked about livestreaming, suggesting that it’s “still on a steep learning curve in Japan” and perhaps in the rest of the world too.

“While there is a way of doing livestreaming with the same performance we used to do on physical stages, there are now lots of people who are working on how to make the online live experience a piece of art in itself,” he said.

“For example, I think doing a live performance in a game such as Fortnite is a different approach from simply putting what you have done live on stage up to now, online.”


Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit Global is taking place online this week, with two hours of talks and panels every day starting at 3pm BST (4pm CEST / 10am EDT / 7am PDT).

It’s broadcasting live on Zoom and – thanks to our sponsors Linkfire, Chartmetric and MQA – is completely free to access. You can see the agenda and register here.

Music Ally’s next Learn Live webinar will help you build the strategies for artists to thrive in new international markets!

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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