Japan is the second biggest music market in the world, it's time we took notice

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There is great music to be heard and lessons to be learned from Japan's music scene.

Earlier this month, we reported that there were no Australian artists in the local top 20 singles chart.  In the same week, 70 percent of the US Billboard Chart was populated by American artists.

Now, compare that to Japan, the second biggest music market in the world, where 98 percent of all singles, and 76 percent of all albums, are sold are by Japanese artists. In an environment where physical sales are dwindling, Japan still has more record stores than any other country in the world, three times as many as the US.

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Numbers like these are simply unthinkable in Australia, and they also go a long way to explaining why there are so many mind-blowing Japanese artists that we’ve never heard of.

 

The Japanese industry clearly supports its own to a phenomenal degree, so much so that you can have a profoundly successful (and profitable) career on domestic sales alone.

There’s no need to seek the validation, or the dollars, of anyone outside of your homeland.

This unique scenario, combined with our tendency to favour British and American artists over all others, unfortunately means that we miss out on some of the most spectacular music being made in the world right now.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all about J-Pop, you only need to look listen to those in easy reach to understand there’s something special going on.

We’re lucky that Cornelius, Shonen Knife and DJ Krush all managed to extend their reach across the waters, along with their predecessors like Acid Mothers Temple, Boredoms and Yellow Magic Orchestra.

This week’s Fat Planet celebrates a few of those vanguards, but also shines the light on a new breed of Japanese artists that are worthy of our attention.

There’s Zombie Chang from Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city, who has ditched her earlier Ramones-meets-Mouldy-Peaches vibe to reinvent herself as a clear successor to Grimes.

 

We also hear from a band with a truly impressive name, Ogre You Asshole, whose off-kilter indie pop has found a true fan in The Smiths’ Johnny Marr.

And if you like the idea of Portishead being played inside a jet engine turbine, you’ll love Noiseconcrete x 3Chi5, whose debut was revered in indie media as the best Japanese record of last year.

 

But these artists are just a tiny fraction of the delights that await in the most mind-blowing music scene in the world.  And Fat Planet is your ticket to take you there.

Listen to Fat Planet's Japan special right here. And hear Tim Shiel's interview with Cornelius on Something More.

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