Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bands I Have Seen Live//

Abingdon Boys School
Alice Nine
Aural Vampire
exist trace
the GazettE
Hangry & Angry
Jack Rose
Moi Dix Mois
Plastic Tree
the Underneath
Toshihiko Takamizawa
X Japan

I'm a wee bit spoiled (^_^)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why Downloading Music Is Okay//

     A couple weeks ago I witnessed someone on my twitter feed criticizing people for uploading one of LM.C’s new videos on Youtube.  She even insinuated that they were hurting the industry/hurting the fan base.  How?  I am not one of those of those people who becomes defensive out of ignorance, so rather I am just writing now to offer a counterpoint.

     The most obvious reason why she would say that is this assumption that the record companies and all parties involved will lose money since now there will be no reason to buy the Limited Edition.  Yes, for only $10-$20 more you two can own the exact same CD with a different case and a DVD that contains both the music video and the making-of video!  Some bands, like Plastic Tree, actually make these editions worthwhile by including live concert footage, but generally the case and the DVD are the only difference.  Unless they were obsessed with a specific song why then would a casual listener purchase it?  To fans, it is little more than a status symbol, and I should know, every Alice Nine CD and DVD I own is as elite as they can be. 

     This I suppose all falls under the classic and wearisome argument of file-sharing.  Some in the industry support it.  Others do not.  My viewpoint of file-sharing is this: You download mp3s to discover new music.  If you like it, you buy it.  I personally am much more likely to buy an album I have already heard because if I have not heard it previously, I feel that the purchase is too risky and decline it without ever giving it the chance.  I promise too that unlike a lot of people, my claim is true; my Japanese music collection is worth so much I have thought about using it as collateral for a loan.  If a company expects me to even consider buying a product, I demand they let me sample it first.  The pitiful thing is the actual artists don’t seem to mind at all.  When meeting a Japanese artist you find that they don’t care that you have not bought the latest single; they are too overjoyed that you know who they are.

     My biggest problem with the Youtube issue is that I am in America; how can someone argue a lack of profitability when they are not even attempting to market outside of Japan?  Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Opportunity.  Much of the young fanbase was introduced to Japanese music through the internet which has expanded the scene here in America more than I ever thought possible.  Downloading music is sometimes the only we can get our hands on it.  These arguments against media share have some significance in Japan, but no clout here.  It is not as if they are unaware of blocking IPs from regions they do not like.  Youtube, 2chan, and many Japanese MMOs have essentially told me, “Silly foreigner, this content is for us”.  If they want to shield Japanese fans from the desire (peer pressure) to view content without paying, then just block Japanese IPs.

     I really feel that, given the circumstances, it is unfair for these record companies to feel as if anything else can be expected of us.  Japanese CDs are expensive enough as it is, but on top of it we have to pay the necessary expensive shipping costs.  Even over-privileged teenagers from middle-class families can only order so much with their disposable incomes.  The difference in price between a new American CD and a new Japanese CD is normally 200-300%.  This is really what everything boils down to: price control.  It is a way to keep CDs selling at the very same price in Japan.  It is my belief that Japanese companies recognize that if they were export their goods on a grand-scale, at a price greater than world market price,   they would face downward pressure.  As there is no way, at least with CDs that I know of, to prevent residents of Japan from listening to a CD distributed in a different country, they cannot prevent them from choosing to purchase the CDs which now reflect the world market’s price.  Although what I just wrote may seem like some conspiracy theory, it is a real world strategy.  That is why we have region codes for DVDs, to prevent a group in one region from watching a movie sold in another region at a different price.  If you cannot connect the dots, it means those CD/DVDs whose sales you are negatively impacting by watching a music video on Youtube, you can’t watch anyway without a DVD player capable of reading the Region 2 code. 

     It is undeniable, in my mind at least, that a foreigner uploading a Japanese music video on Youtube, for other foreigners to watch, is of absolutely no real consequence to the Japanese music industry.  In fact, I actually wonder if they are not wasting more money by sending a cease-and-desist notice within hours of a video’s upload, than they would be by following my suggestion to block Japanese IP addresses.  I often wonder if Japan’s value of homogeny plays a role in this.  Either way, my demand to the Japanese music industry is this: give us distribution or give us our Youtube videos.