To get a publicity in the Japanese media - PR contact list

PR is an important music marketing strategy for any artists and companies, even when dealing with international promotion.

The difference between publicity and advertising is, first, the cost. You have to pay to place an advertisement, but publicity usually doesn't cost anything, in order to get exposure through feature articles and reviews.

Since you know your music and image better than anyone else and also how you want to appear in the media, you may be able to do "PR" by yourself. But how can you be sure to reach the right media outlets, especially in different countries?

Japan Music Promotion has compiled a PR list, to help you directly contact the right media outlets, in order to get your music exposed & promoted in the Japanese music market.

It contains contact information for many different media outlets (TV programs, print/online magazines, radio programs, online media; websites and blogs) and also includes pre-made email templates, so that you can contact these sources in Japanese. They are laid out so that you can insert your information and copy and paste the Japanese sentences that best fit your situation and make them into one email.

Most of the websites and some of the contact forms are written in Japanese. If necessary, Japan Music Promotion can also assist you and guide you in filling out these forms.

You can check it out here : http://japanmusicpromotion.com/ListManual.html

JMP also offers a list with custom email templates for your individual needs.


Great source for independent artists - to assist with radio promotion in Japan

Radio airplay is an important music promotion strategy and artists and companies are looking for it, even when they think about international promotion. However, in comparison to other countries, radio promotion in Japan is different and more complicated. There aren't as many opportunities for radio airplay, for non-Japanese, independent artists. However, if you reach out to your target genre’s DJ's and radio programs at the right time and in the right situation, they might possibly be interested in playing your music.

Japan Music Promotion has compiled this list of radio stations and selected music programs, from all over Japan, to help you contact and introduce your music to them directly.

Many music programs are for domestic (Japanese) and local artists and music. Because of this, we've selected programs that feature mainly foreign (non-Japanese) music. Some programs play both Japanese music and foreign music and some are mainly for domestic music, but it is also possible to get consideration if your music is of the same genre as their main programming. You can also reach out to the stations and ask them to forward your music to the proper programs and people. (Some stations do not have proper music programs, but they can play music in some other programs.)

Most of the websites and some of the contact forms are written in Japanese. If necessary, Japan Music Promotion can also assist you and guide you in filling out the forms.

You can check it from here: http://japanmusicpromotion.com/ListManual.html

We've gotten several positive responses from artists we are working with that have used this list. There are a lof of possible stations and programs to contact, but by doing so, it is possible to get results.


Finding performance opportunities in Japan

Going to Japan and playing & performing there might be one of your dreams. In fact, Japan Music Promotion has had a lot of inquiries about performing in Japan.

However, Japan Music Promotion is not a booking agency or concert promoter that directly books gigs and performances in Japan.  What Japan Music Promotion can help artists with is providing contact information of Japanese companies that may be interested in assisting foreign artists with performances in Japan.

There are specific companies that work for foreign (non-Japanese) artist's performances in Japan. These companies should be able to communicate with you in English.

Japan Music Promotion has compiled a contact list of these people/companies and has provided a list of the descriptions in English, to make it easier for you to contact them yourselves. This should help with your self-promotion in Japan.

See more details here: http://japanmusicpromotion.com/ListManual.html

We hope this contact list gives you a chance to find the right people/companies and opportunities, to help make your performance in Japan come true.


5 cities good for tour in Japan

In Japan, there are many cities where music is big. Just like in the U.S., which has New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, the U.K., has London,  Austria has Vienna, Japan also has it's music "hotspots".

When I asked what kind of information artists and music industry people want to know about Japan, the owner of an artist management company told me: "I need someone who can plan a route for us, when we go on tour in Japan. Everybody knows that Tokyo is a must, but we want to know where else we should play."

If you spend all the money on plane tickets and endure the long fight, to play in Japan, you shouldn't only play in Tokyo. Even major artists play a few different cities when they tour Japan. But where are the best places for you to choose? There are 47 prefectures and 789 cities in Japan!

Here is a list of the cities that I think are the best to play, if you're planning to tour in Japan. The first three cities are in the east, so you don't have to fly between them and the last two cities, you can use the express train (Shinkansen), or hop a short flight from the Tokyo area.

1. Chiba Prefecture
The first place you usually land in Japan is Narita International Airport, which is actually located in Chiba. "Tokyo Disney Land" is also in Chiba prefecture. It is around 2 hours, by train, from central Tokyo, it's also cheaper, easier and the people are more laid back there, as we've discussed in previous articles. But there are good gig spots in central Chiba City. Many indie band play there and big festivals, like summer sonic, are also held in Chiba.

2. Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture)
Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, next to Tokyo. It's around one hour from central Tokyo.  There are lots of cool clubs, live houses and Jazz bars. Like Tokyo, Yokohama is modern, historical and beautiful and, in central Yokohama, expenses are about the same as Tokyo. It's also a very international city, so foreign artists are always welcomed.

3. Tokyo
You should definitely play in Tokyo, but you should research the best places in Tokyo for you to play. It's nearly 1000 square miles in total, so you can't possibly see everything in just one or two visits. You should pick the clubs & places you think are the best ones for you to play & to see. Also, since it is a big tourist town, there are many people and places, that speak English.

4. Osaka
Osaka is a big city, on the west-side of Japan. The people and the culture are quite different than in the east. The people are friendlier and have more of a sense of humor and there are lots of music fans there. From Tokyo, it's about a one-hour flight, two hours by express train, or three to four hours by bus. I recommend going there, if you can. While you're there, you can also visit Kyoto. Most foreign artists choose Tokyo and Osaka as the main cities to play.

5. Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture)
This city is between Tokyo and Osaka, so it takes around an hour and a half to get there, by express train. There are couple of good concert halls in Nagoya and many major & independent Japanese artists play there. The food is good there, as well!

Depending on your tour budget, if you can afford the transportation and lodging, another few cities  that are worth checking out would be:
- Fukuoka
- Hiroshima
- Sendai
- Kobe


How to distribute physical CDs in the Japanese record stores

I wrote about distributing music in Japan a couple of months ago, but today, I would like to share some information I recently found out, about CD distribution in Japan.

As I'd said in a previous blog,  CD baby is a great service for independent artists to sell their music. It connects to Amazon and iTunes in Japan, so Japanese customers are able to download music by artists from other countries, using Japanese yen. That's great for downloading music, directly to a smartphone or computer, but what about physical CDs? If a Japanese customer wants to buy music on CD, instead of downloading MP3's, where are they able to buy them?  

Since I have been working on publicity for our clients and trying to get them featured in Japanese media, I became curious about this. A lot of Japanese bloggers, magazine editors and others asked me where they could buy the CD's in Japan. Sometimes, there are versions produced only for Japanese customers, which include lyrics and liner note translations. This may be much easier for major artists with a label backing them, but it might not be possible for independent artists on a limited budget. Even so, many Japanese fans look forward to having this option, so they can better understand the artist and their music. I remember when I was younger, I was so excited to read the liner notes, because I wanted to know more about the artists and also, what the songs were about. Unfortunately, because of today's economy, even major artists tend to not to include them in their CD's. It may be because they're trying to cut expenses, but also, many Japanese listeners have started buying imported versions, because they are less expensive than the Japanese version.

Getting back to CD baby, they are now introducing "worldwide CD distribution" on their site. When I heard about this, I asked them about distribution in Japan. Their answer was that resellers in Japan can buy artist's CDs from them, or from Alliance Entertainment or super Dif resellers are setup with them. But it is the reseller's decision to buy it and list it themselves. Most resellers will list your CD in their catalog but they don't carry stock. When they sell the CDs, CD baby, Alliance or super D ship it to the resellers, and then, the resellers ship to the customer. That's how the system works, similar to drop shipping.  

So, the first thing an artist can do is to find Japanese distributors. You can send a press release and maybe copy of the CD too. (the digital version by email would be fine) Ask if they can list your CD and explain how the system works. I have contacted several distributors in Japan and many of them don't want to buy an unknown artist's CDs first, because it's risky. However, if they don't have to stock it, they might be interested to, at least, list your CD's in their store. I have also noticed that some Japanese distributor's websites have an English page. But, it's always better to show you have a Japanese presence to introduce you and your music.

Japan Music Promotion can assist  with creating Japanese materials and also with distribution, if artists need.

I hope this information helps!
- S


My First Trip to Japan (part 3) Tokyo & Kamakura

The next day would be my first trip into Tokyo and I couldn't wait to finally get to see it. We took the train into the city and once we arrived and left the train station, I must say, it felt a lot like New York City to me. From the tall buildings, to the crowds of business people, scurrying around with their briefcases, I felt like I was walking in downtown Manhattan. The major difference about Tokyo was the same one I'd found, when we'd first arrived in Japan - everything was sparkling clean. The streets were immaculate, there was no graffiti and no litter anywhere. Yet another example of the Japanese culture of respect & dignity. Oddly enough, I also felt much safer than I would in New York. There were no worries of someone jacking me for my wallet, or being caught in the middle of some random act of terror. There was an air of safety in Japan that I felt, throughout my entire trip.

It began to rain, and we were getting hungry, so we ducked into this tiny restaurant, hidden away, inside the lobby of an office building. Shoes off, seated, cross-legged, on the floor, this was the first time that I truly felt like I was in a foreign culture. Since we'd been eating at home for most of the trip, we'd only been to one other restaurant, but there, we were seated in chairs and my shoes were still on. My only issue with eating in Japan is that I am not a fish eater and certainly not a sushi eater. This is a personal thing and I know I missed out on some of the best culinary experience in my life, but, it's my loss. I did eat a lot of noodles & chicken, though! 

After leaving the restaurant, we walked a little more around the city, in the light rain, before heading back to Yokohama. The train ride back gave me a lot of opportunity to see more of the city, even though I had to view it at high speed! Tokyo was everything I'd expected it to be and more. It's a beautiful city.We hardly had the time to cover all of it, but I know I'll see more on our next trip. 

I'd seen a lot of Japan in my first week, but the thing I'd wanted to see the most was Mount Fuji. I'd dreamt about standing at the foot of it and gazing up at it's magnificent, snow-capped summit and getting in touch with my inner Samurai. Unfortunately, we were a few hours away, by car and it wasn't exactly the right time of year for visibility. Sure, I'd seen glimpses of it, piercing the overcast sky, miles in the distance, but it still didn't have the look I'd hoped to see from close-up. Even so, I was determined that before I went home, I'd get to see it from, at least, a little closer! My father-in-law told me that, because of the weather, it was unlikely that I'd actually get a clear view at that time of year, but I did... the next day...

The highlight of my trip was the following day, when we went on a little sight-seeing trip to the historical city of Kamakura. There was so much to see there. From the Buddhist temples, to the tiny island of Enoshima, just off the coast, which could only be reached by walking almost a mile, across a long bridge, this was my favorite part of Japan. There was more history to be seen there than in all the rest of our trip. We visited four different temples, the most exciting of which was where I saw the statue of the Daibutsu, or "great buddha". I'd seen it in thousands of photographs, but I had no idea how enormous it truly was. It is probably the main attraction for tourists visiting Kamakura, since it is such a recognizable landmark. When we first came upon it, I felt as though I was dreaming, since I'd seen it so many times in photos, and now I was actually standing in front of it. Not only did I view it from the outside, but we got to go inside of it... truly an experience! Built n the 13th century, this nearly 800 year old statue has survived earthquakes, floods, fires and tsunamis and is still standing, in all it's glory.

The next temple we visited was Ankokuronji. There, I felt as though I was thrust back to the days of the Kamakura Shogunate. The architecture of the wooden buildings was so intricately detailed and well preserved, it was truly a beautiful thing to see up close. Ankokuronji had a summit, high atop a hill, where we could gaze out across the bay of Japan and see the entire island, stretched out for miles. There was a lot of climbing involved to reach the top, but when we finally arrived, I was able to see the sight I'd dreamt about my whole life. Even though, from the distance we were at, it was a smaller view than I'd hoped for, I could see it in its entirety. The top of Mount Fuji was finally, right before my eyes. Far in the distance, it was peaking out above the clouds and it was every bit as majestic as I'd thought it would be. My trip to Japan felt complete, though I still wasn't able to visit "Fujisan" (as the Japanese refer to Mt Fuji) and walk along the base,  but that will be my next trip...

Before we headed back to the states, we spent our last few days back in Chiba, with the grandparents. Now that I'd been to the city and did a lot of sightseeing, I could kick back, relax and absorb some more of the culture. Over the next couple of days I saw some more historical sites in Chiba, including some hidden airplane hangars where Kamikaze pilots hid their planes during WWII. I ate lots of somen (Japanese noodles) and drank a lot of Japanese beer or "biru". I tried to play the Shakuhachi, which is a wooden flute, native to Japanese music. Of course, I could barely even get a sound out of it, let alone make it sound like anything musical! Since I'd expressed an interest in Japanese calligraphy, my grandfather-in-law bought me an authentic calligraphy set and tried to teach me the basics of using the brush to paint Kanji characters. This was something I was determined to learn, and I am still practicing! It is really an art form, but the Japanese make it look effortless, as children learn this ancient tradition in grade school. The last few days were really wonderful, as my "family" really did their best to make me feel as though I had a home in that beautiful country. 

At that point, I felt like I'd seen so much of Japan, but in reality, I had only really seen such a small part. There is so much more I will experience on my next visit and all of my subsequent visits and I know I'll never get tired of discovering new things about a country with such an amazing history and culture... I hope that you will make it a plan to visit Japan, soon! 


My First Trip to Japan... (part 2) Yokohama & What You Can Buy for ¥100

After a few days of visiting with family in Chiba, we hopped on a bus and headed for my wife's hometown of Yokohama, which was about 2 hours away. This time, instead of traveling by train and having to carry all of our luggage through the train station, we decided it would be easier and more comfortable to take a bus. This was also a way for me to get a feel for the Japanese countryside and also try another mode of transportation. So, grandfather drove us to the bus station and we waited for the bus - which was, strangely... five minutes late!  My grandfather-in-law explained that for a bus to not be on time was unheard of here and that there must be a problem. Sure enough, when the bus arrived, the driver apologized as though he'd disgraced the entire country, for being five minutes behind schedule. Despite that, the bus ride was a pleasure, for me. The bus was not crowded at all, which meant we had the entire back rows to ourselves, to stretch out & be comfortable.The weather was slightly overcast and the grey sky made the lush, green landscape stand out even more. I felt like I was riding through a wood-block painting, because the scenery was so beautiful and surreal. Between the unique architecture of the Japanese homes, to the trees & foliage, the two hour bus ride was both, relaxing and educational. I highly recommend using all modes of public transportation, when visiting Japan. They're all convenient and you can see a lot, just sitting and observing.

After about an hour and a half, the view from the bus window began to change from country-like to city-like and the small cottage style houses were replaced with more buildings and less trees. In the distance, I could see the ocean and I knew we were close to Yokohama. Once we crossed over the bay bridge, I could see the enormous ferris wheel that was as much of a landmark to that city as the Hollywood sign is to Los Angeles.

Being a city on the bay, Yokohama instantly reminded me of San Francisco, with a skyline that was equally as stunning and bridges that were as beautiful as the Golden Gate. The lifestyle and atmosphere were definitely different from Chiba, but I felt like I fit right in with the locals, even with my limited Japanese. It was a short walk from the bus station to the house and, since it was right around rush hour, we were walking with a crowd of people, none of whom were American. I noticed many were wearing dust masks on their faces, which my wife explained, was normal and usually just done to protect them from airborne illness and exhaust fumes. Howie Mandel would be right at home in Yokohama!

Once we got to the house, we dropped off the luggage and took a walk around the neighborhood where my wife grew up. The streets were far busier than the ones in Chiba and the similarity to San Francisco was even more apparent as we explored the few blocks around the house. One thing I noticed right away, was the abundance of vending machines. There seemed to be a vending machine on every corner and the variety of things you could buy in them was enough to give someone ADD. From soft drinks, to cigarettes, to snacks - both hot and cold - there was a vending machine for just about everything. If you wanted a hot or cold drink, or a beer, or some small snack to hold you until dinner, just walk a block and there'll surely be something to fit the description. 

One thing I'd always heard others say about Japan, that was simply not true, was that everything was expensive and you'd need to bring a lot of money for everyday things. That comes from people who don't know how to shop or where to shop! I must say, one of my favorite parts of Japan had to be the 100 Yen shops, which were all over the place. They were sort of like the 99 cents stores, back in the U.S., but the merchandise was far better and of higher quality that you'd expect for around $1.50. Within the two weeks we were there, I'd say we visited about six different 100 Yen stores, each with a little different inventory. You could get just about anything there, from soaps & hair products, cosmetics, toiletries, to snacks & condiments. Most stuff would cost from $5 to $15 in the U.S., but here, everything's a bargain & everything is good quality. If you plan to visit Japan, these are also a great place to get some really nice souvenirs, without spending a fortune. 

Another observation I made while I was there was how different the houses were. For one thing, they're far smaller than in the U.S. and the bathrooms are different, to say the least. The shower is usually in a separate room from the toilet and each toilet has a bidet-type unit, built in, with adjustable temperature controls and water jets. Not to mention, an air-dry function. I'm a huge advocate of personal hygiene and I was certainly impressed by how the Japanese are so cutting-edge with theirs. A toilet in the same room as your shower? That's just not right! (at least not in Japan!) Those two should be separate, and they made sure of it! Another of my favorite things were the heated toilet seats! Really! This is a small thing, but it's pretty much the norm in just about every bathroom I went into. How the U.S. hasn't adapted this yet, still baffles me... We need to get on it! Heated seats, with water jets and dryers - and temperature controls! Even the showers had thermostats. You could set the exact temperature for the water! Just make sure you remember that, in Japan, they use celsius, as opposed to fahrenheit, or you'll be in for a surprise! Ouch!

Enough about the bathrooms... I still hadn't been to Tokyo, nor had I seen Mount Fuji... but that's for the next blog! 

...to be continued - again!