Laurence02 reacted to Plant in The philosophy of trading music
I’d like to discuss the philosophy of trading music, and offer my experience with the practice.
For those who do not know, music-trading is essentially the act of bartering MP3s (among other digital formats of music like FLAC and so on). This practice is popular in Japanese culture, particularly within the vk scene. It is not popular outside of Japanese culture.
Typically music-trading involves music that is extremely difficult to find elsewhere, such as the content of demo tapes; bonus (tokuten / 特典) or freely distributed (haifu / 配布) items, such as those received exclusively with the purchase of something at a particular location, or provided to the attendees of a live event; and limited-sale, or out-of-print items. Readily available items, such as things which can be purchased easily online or in stores, are sometimes traded as well, but this is considered by the community to be somewhat unethical and closer to piracy. (Though, undoubtedly, you could argue the practice of music-trading is inherently unethical to begin with.)
Music-trading also frequently involves bootleg recordings of lives (tereko / テレコ) which are valued by sound quality, or content (for example, if an uncommon or particularly unique rendition of a song is performed, a recording may be more highly valued). DVDs and bootleg videos are also traded, but this is less common because they make for large files which is inconvenient. In the early 2000s, when bandwidth was more of a concern, music-trading was often conducted in Japan using writable CD-Rs and the postal system. Because uploading music in Japan is a far more severe crime than many other places, some traders still prefer to do it this way. (Though most simply utilize encryption, uploading ZIP files with passwords.)
Music-trading has a very poor reputation for different reasons. First, it comes off as a severely elitist practice which excludes those who do not have anything of value to trade (which is the vast majority within any given fanbase). Second, (while the same could be said of piracy in general) it is extremely disrespectful to the creators of the music, whose intentions behind the availability of their content is being violated.
It’s worth noting here how exclusivity and ephemerality tend to be highly valued in Japanese culture. They are also commonly used as marketing tactics. A lot of products and merchandise in Japan are sold in limited quantities or in singular locations or for limited periods of time. The Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, for example, has an exclusive gift shop which only sells special product merchandise that can only be purchased there. Furthermore, they show exclusive animated films which can only be seen in the theater they have there, and will supposedly never be released on consumer media.
Admittedly, I’m no expert on exclusivity and ephemerality in Japan. All of this is based on my personal and subjective observations. But, in my estimation there is no malicious intent behind it. It’s simply something that seems to be considered fun and enjoyable, as frustrating as it might be sometimes.
I think this aspect of Japanese culture is often mistaken for elitism by those from other cultures. Part of the fun for many who trade music is the experience of happening across the opportunity to obtain something exclusive and rare, and the ephemeral singular experience that comes with this.
And, this kind of culture is fundamentally engrained in the music we’re talking about here. After all, the creators themselves chose to release it in limited quantities, or to an exclusive minority. If they wanted to make money from it, or to get it out to more people, they’d make the effort to do so. (And sometimes they do; the electronic/pico-pico kei band FLOPPY, for example, recently released a new album with a second disc containing a bunch of exclusive tracks they’d given out or sold in limited quantities over the past years.)
And, as previously mentioned, a lot of this is simply marketing. Some of the music in question is meant to complement ticket or new album sales, and is never intended to stand on its own. A lot of it is given out as gifts to fans during holiday events and things like that.
Whether one agrees with it or not, the creators of this music intended for it to be scarce or difficult to find. To quote The Mandalorian: This is the way.
If you’re interested at all in music-trading, I think it’s important to understand what is motivating the people of this community, and the culture behind the practice.
Here’s my take on music-trading: I do not like it.
But, I see no other way to support my interests, or to otherwise obtain certain items. I see music-trading as a necessary evil, or something like that.
There’s definitely something quite snobby about assessing the value of music based on its scarcity or how few people have access to it, rather than the way it sounds. (Those epic rarez and 10-copy demo tapes of your favorite bands? Odds are these releases totally suck, and the main reason the band hasn’t made any attempt to re-release them is because they’re embarrassed by them.) Furthermore, hoarding music makes you feel like some kind of grouchy dragon who never learned to share.
If you use Last.FM or mention that you have something rare online, people are going to beg you for things. Who are you to deny them something you could infinitely duplicate? (We are talking about MP3s, after all—not physical releases. And this typically isn’t stuff anyone can buy, so sharing it isn’t taking away sales or preventing artist support.) On the one hand, you want to share with these people because maybe you’ll make a cool new friend and have another person to discuss music with—and at least in my experience, it’s just kind of nice making others happy and helping them out when you can; but on the other hand, the more people who have this music, the less opportunity you’re going to have to trade it to get more music—the less you're going to be able to barter.
Thus, the life of a music-trader can often be quite lonely and self-serving.
I tried to resist this path of hoarding my collection for a long time. When someone asked me for something rare, I’d give it to them under the condition that they keep it to themselves. A few of these people ended up “paying me back” tenfold later on with more music, and some of them ended up being really great friends. Others spread the stuff I gave them online, sometimes out of ignorance, and sometimes out of spite and jealousy.
The best situation is when you can establish a small community of likeminded individuals who are willing to share this music with each other, and no one else. Thus, everyone gets to enjoy the music, yet its tradable value is uncompromised. If one of you wants someone outside of the community to have it, they can simply ask this person to assimilate and “join the club,” so to speak.
Some may still observe a situation like this as elitism, but I would argue against this because with the right attitude and behavior, anyone could be a part of a community like this. In the end, music-trading is merely the process of upholding the culture behind the music in question, which is established by its creators.
Have you ever traded music? If so, what was your experience like? Otherwise, what is your opinion on the practice? Please free to share why you approve or disapprove of music-trading, or perhaps why you’re a little bit conflicted about it, like me.
Laurence02 reacted to Bunny-Usagii in Which visual kei trope would you ban?
Personal thing that annoys me, not all bands do this but, fucking A/B/C/D types oh my fucking god. Please just release everything on a "master cd" too because only obsessed bangyas or rich fans (aka not me and most of my VK friends) buy all cd types. I already think I'm stupid for having bought two types of one cd a little while ago because I just wanted to see the making-of, which was a little dissapointing ngl.
Besides I too think that the whole secretive part to VK is kinda stupid, there's nothing wrong about age, sexuality nor relationships. Seriously, in the west celebrities who are in a relationship get labelled as "goals" by their fans, but eastern celebrities like VK-artists and idols too get sooooo much hate for it??? I still really hate the Kiryu bangyas for having sent all those emails to Takemasa last year telling him to kill himself after they found out he was married.
Also the YouTuber thing that's kinda happening to some bands, it's kinda fun, but only for the Japanese fans. I can barely follow any video because I just don't understand. Some video's can be funny if the video is obvious in what's happening like changing instruments or smth, but when they're just talking or eating, it's just... "Okay so do I just listen or what am I supposed to do?". I haven't seen many video's that actually have English subtitles, only a few, and a few on blogs with fan-made translations. Even then it's still kinda boring if you keep having to look away from the video to read the text on the blog.
Laurence02 reacted to LIDL in Which visual kei trope would you ban?
1.) Live limited release.
It is archaic and need to be left behind in the age of streaming. Elitism won’t work these days. Sorryboutit.
2.) band name using all kinds of symbols and/or numbers that is not easy to pronounce.
For obvious reason.
Laurence02 reacted to Saga in Sexuality matters within VK
A easy example about how the looks don't necessarily reflect the person of a visual kei artist is the usage of the hakenkreuz by the earliests bands. We don’t see as much nowadays, but the SS caps always appears, sooner or later.
Of course that there was some classic japanese punk nationalism in some bands here and there, but core of V系 was about shocking after all. So, the imaginary of the nazism is aesthetic, therefore should be used.
As @薔薇の末裔 pointed out, understanding Kabuki is a good way to understand this theatrical musical scene.
Kabuki in its first days was a female theater, a more accessible branch of Noh. But it was just too sexy for that confucian society. “A woman's place is in the kitchen”, said the Shogun (or it was my dad last night?). And then, the boys took the place of the woman, doing woman roles. But the boys turned out into fuckboys. “Notto disu shitto agen”, said the Shogun. And then, old man were doing woman roles. “Hmm”, long and deeply said the Shogun. Keep in mind that everyone was killing everyone in the past sengoku century, so the Shoguns could not fuck around (ha).
“Ok, ok, And so what?”. Well, since being really sexy was not an option, the onnagata dudes started doing their own shit to emulate the woman sexyness. First come the fancy wig, then they started showing some little skin and so on. Little by little there was no more “man” or “woman”, but onnagata. A woman that no other woman could be.
At that point, Kabuki without man doing female roles is not Kabuki. Visual kei without man doing female roles is not visual kei? I don’t think so, exist†trace showed their shit and we digged it hard. But I would say that is highly expected to see a man doing female roles in the visual rock scene. D’s “Ouka saki some ni keri” is my pick for today. The contrast of Asagi manly vocals with his woman clothing is a perfectly example of why we love it the way it is. They do it with passion (or for money), and we love them for it, not because their sexual preference.
The whole pv setting is a love letter for their culture. And it is just one example, there is so many other bands with pvs with that scenary (and probably there is a “something-kei” for it too). The pompous and bold Glam Rock found it’s home in the japanese costumes and evolved into the coolest thing.
To be deeper into to sexuallity stuff we could talk about how Japan society potentially repress the sexual preference of their people in order to have things working “in the right way” and how the west really needs to “talk about it” and not let the individuals be themselves without pushing some agenda into your fuckin throat so it’s fuckin hard to understand these japs using lipsticks just because they like it, but that stress me too much so fuck it.
Laurence02 reacted to 薔薇の末裔 in Sexuality matters within VK
It might sound weird from a western perspective, but visual kei is like the straightest and most homophobic music scene in Japan. We tend to look at visual kei with western eyes and mix its cultural aspects with things that belong to the western culture. Fanservice and provocations used for shock value put aside, the androgynous aesthetics of visual kei band rarely expressed anything related to gender identity and especially sexual orientation.
After all, it started with people like X Japan who admittedly were inspired by glam rock bands and way of life, which I would find hard to connect to sexual orientation. Visual kei early bandomen were mostly chinpiras, bosozokus (bikers) and the likes. They really incarnated the somewhat glamrock aesthetic of riding bikes getting drunk, banging girls, etc. Of course X had their own decadent/romantic taste that made them different, and a lot of influences changed the scene over time. However, visual kei is still remains 99% driven by social outcasts looking for pussy and very rarely by something else.
In Japan we also have onnagatas, who are kabuki actors specialized in female roles that are again 99% straight. Bandoman with feminine looks call themselves onnagata, not josou (crossdresser), implying that the cultural source behind their looks is not connected with crossdressing but just playing a female role in a band, but again this something that might be hard to completely understand it taken outside of Japanese culture. For example Izam, the king of all onnagatas, married more than once and has more tha one child, and outside of his role in Shazna he rarely did anything ambiguous, just like the kabuki onnagatas out of stage. Both media and fans are everything but respectful of privacy, but I've rarely seen Japanese articles or message board questioning bandomen sexual orientation. That's because the number 1 reason people do visual kei is because the girls like it (well, liked it, I am not sure this is the trend with young girls anymore).
Soft Ballet/Ken Morioka are closer to Soft Cell/Marc Almond so I would not even count them as visual kei even though they had some influence on it. And of course, there are exceptions as you mentioned. The chinpira bandomen of the 90's almost extincted and younger generations bandomans are usually anime/game otakus. They grew up with different influences and values, and it would make sense if the current incarnation of visual kei instinctively appealed to more people with sexual orientation/gender identity concerns, especially after Japan started talking about these issues in a less obsolete viewpoint.
Laurence02 reacted to Doesn'tEvenGoHere in How to make Visual Kei popular again?
I always bite my lip when this comes up in general discussions about rock music because I never want be or sound like the sour adult who's mad that a scene they loved is dying out, but this, from what I observe, is true. I don't know what it is, but rock music doesn't seem to be picking up with the zoomers like it did with previous generations (yes, rock music has always been an alternative scene, but it still had a notable presence both in the charts and in fans). Now add that to the fact that once rock stars like Radke and Barker have implemented hip hop to their work and rock music aesthetics have been adapted by rappers and other pop music musicians, and it feels like our presence is nearing irrelevancy further than ever.
It's also a hard yes to what you mentioned about how what would have been the present-day vk western fandom is now just another part of the kpop fandom and that point hits an emotional string in me because it was that realization that first made me notice how a taste for rock music seems rarer than ever with today's kids. I worked as a substitute teacher when I was in university and got to work around middle schoolers frequently and at some point it dawned on me that all the kids who were really into anime were also really into kpop. If I thought about that crowd in my day , that would have been the crowd where you would find the vk-fan kids (which as mentioned in other comments were in large responsible for the perceived popularity vk had around 2010). Anime is more popular than ever/Japanese fashion is more mainstream in the west than ever, and scene/emo fashion is popular again. All these trends are moving along. What's not being taken with them is rock music. And that hurts like heck to write. All of that being said, I would love to see zoomers make me eat my words and have them experience a proper rock movement of their own. But at the moment, that's just not what I'm seeing. Mind you there are some kids who still like rock music and vk, but their numbers are considerably lower than what we had in the 2000's.
Laurence02 reacted to Disposable in What genres would you like to see more of in VK
Instead of having the scene go around appropriating gimmicks I'd just rather have it go back to what it used to be. It's not like anything has happened in rock music in over ten years other than metalcore dying and a collective turning back the clock to feed on nostalgia, which then as a result synthesised what he have now with our impression of the past. It happened in vk too sort of with nu-metal coming back and bands getting darker and edgier, but it petered out finally once AINS was gone and now what we got is r-fucking-shitei and raido cutting themselves in music videos. The best thing that I could hope for is bands like that we got with that wave but just better, and with more (post-)punk and definitely less metal. I think a lot of band guys miss this old school attitude and music too from what I can tell from interviews, and yet they seem to be hopelessly inept in realising it. I guess they can want what they want but if the gya ain't buying it, they ain't going to do it. And since we're here I wouldn't mind something going were bands like La'cryma christi, Luna Sea, L'arc and Eins:Vier were going at their most ambitious but this will never happen.
Either way I want something darker, visceral and ambitious done with the genre's already existing foundations instead of some fucking flavor of the month metal gimmick. I mean come on that's just terrible.
Laurence02 reacted to hyura in Naziploitation in Visual-kei
A lot has been already written about the SS uniform being an 'edgy fashion thing' that was copied over and over again by generations of vk bands from the 80s until today. Personally I think it's cringy and stupid but I can't really feel offended after seeing it done so many times.
In fact it's also pretty exotic and in a way understandable that the Japanese wouldn't feel as sensitive to it as Europeans and would generally be less educated about it than them.
What I find much more problematic is the way a lot of bands are using the imagery of Japanese imperialism. (WWII Uniforms, rising sun flags, propaganda) After all, Japan has its own fascist history of imperialism and war crimes, mainly in other Asian countries. And in contrast to Germany they don't really admit them and don't make mention of it in their history books. It's not really controversial to use these images, despite the crimes they stand for. Using symbols from foreign history as some exotic gimmick is one thing (albeit not great), but using the same propaganda your ancestors used a while back without any proper reflection and not expecting backlash either just shows that young Japanese people are very oblivious and ignorant due to their lack of a proper political education.