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Zeus

5 Things I Hate About VK

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For as much as I love visual kei, there are plenty of practices I detest. I could go on forever. It wouldn't be fair to celebrate all of the good in the scene without admitting the bad as well. There are so many things that make me sad, make me irate, or make me want to rip my hair out that it was hard to settle on just five. Here's five commonplace practices in visual kei that's a total ball ache for any international fan invested into the scene.

 

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You know the old saying "first impressions matter"? Well, I've always had a bad impression of live distributed singles, starting with the drama that erupted around Since1889's Dear…raila. Some poor soul on Tainted World bought the single from an auction for $150 plus shipping, only for the single to be ripped and uploaded the day after she received it. The conspiracy theorist within me believes the person who sold her the single upped it after sending the package off, not knowing if the recipient would upload it (as us gaijin are wont to do). It wasn't even in good quality. This kicked off an enormous debate about entitlement and if certain fans have the right to hear certain songs, and all this over a song that wasn't even that good. Something similar happened a few months later with DI3SIRAE's At the Break of Dawn mini-album, which they only sold at their last concert ever.  ReivieЯ did the same thing with selling a dedicate to all of you at their second to last live, only to turn around and release 追憶/桜 a week later at their final live (but at least that one felt like a parting gift instead of a last minute cash grab). I even caught Lycaon trying their own hand at this scheme. Their idea was to have fans show up to three concerts and keep the ticket stubs and trade them in with the ticket stub from the tour final for a bonus song. I never knew what that song was or if anyone went through the hassle of doing it. It's not limited to music; bands have limited CDs/DVDs and merchandise you can't buy on their web shop or through auction houses too. THE BLACK SWAN went as far as making the lyric booklet for their first album OUSIA live-limited.

Point is, I could never imagine myself spending $150 on one song, knowing the band sees none of that money. I can't see myself spending the price of four ticket admissions for a "free song". I can't imagine showing up to a bunch of lives with pamphlets in hand to get a lyric booklet. Spin it as a gift to the fans if you want, but for us international fans, all of this a pain the ass. These songs and materials don't always get re-released which means we may never get to hear or have them. Knowledge of these songs are lost to time more often than not. I can't think of a time where I actually liked live-distributed releases. I tolerated their existence when visual kei was all I listened to, and its only gone downhill from there.

 

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You've probably never heard of a limited time band because they announce their debut and disbandment in one breath. RHYOLITE is the most prominent example of such a band, a stellar lineup from PSC back in 2008 that lasted eleven weeks. Before Kyouka ended up back in Chaos System for the second time, he started a band called DROSERA OBLAAT. that put out a whole one song and disbanded. A most recent example of such a band from 2016 is ZOL, a band that formed and disbanded so fast there's no information on who the band members even were. We also can't forget about PINKISH CROWN and PRIMARY GLOW, two bands announced by guitarist Lovely from wistaria that accomplished nothing of value and disbanded in less than a year and a half. Turn ∀ is another, a side project of A (Anonymous Confederate Ensemble) after that unit decided to go on hiatus that released live distributed singles so rare I never got to hear them - and I heard they were garbage. I understand sometimes situations change, but why start a band knowing you can't commit? It's an absolute joke. I'm glad fans are able to draw the line at a certain point - a lot of the fun in following visual kei is watching bands grow and evolve and that's a moot point if the band will only be around for a few months at most.

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I don't know what evil business man came up with this scheme to split the contents of one single into two or even three versions. It's so blatantly exploitative I don't know where to begin or if I even need to explain. I draw the line at three. I make peace with albums coming in regular and limited editions for albums, because I can usually watch what I miss on YouTube or buy the missing tracks on iTunes. Visual kei took the same strategy for singles and I swallowed that bitter pill because it was a logical business move. Then, bands took to releasing one version in stores and another live-distributed version with different tracks, and that actively sucked but I could always hope someone was feeling generous and would share the extra tracks. But I didn't actively hate multi-type releases until bands started releasing singles in more than two versions. Throw a dart at any random UNDERCODE band and at one point they probably tried it. Versailles tried it by printing five versions of Prince - one for each member - and not only was it redundant but it burned Jasmine You and Yuki pretty hard. v[NEU] upped the ante with six versions of APOLLON/starting over - and every version had different B-side tracks. Royz,  Kiryu, and Codomo Dragon have ten editions of Family Party at different prices with different PVs, and it would cost 16420yen to acquire all editions. That's about $145 dollars, not including the shipping. And if you think that's bad, Golden Bomber holds the record for releasing 47 types of single やんややんやNight〜踊ろよXX〜. Even if that's a joke, it's not funny. All I can do is exhale slowly and be thankful this type of marketing cancer hasn't metastasized beyond visual kei.

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Of all the fads I dislike about visual kei, conditional disbandment has to be among the most recent ones. The idea behind conditional disbandment  is that a visual kei band threatens to disband if they don't sell a certain amount of tickets or gain a certain amount of attendees. The scheme varies from one band to another, but they all have a goal of trying to rally their fan base to come to a particular live. Some bands don't even reveal the criteria for conditionally disbanding! I can actually remember a time when bands would mumble something about "musical differences" before they parted ways. We all knew it was a lie, but at least the entire band could end activities with relative dignity. Conditional disbandment tactics makes bands look like attention whores. phase faith were the first to try their hand at this in 2011, and were immediately met with universal amusement from everyone on MH. While their goal of fans was reached (207 people showed up to the 7/23 live), their OHP shows them doing only occasional live shows with no releases after early 2012. A few other bands that have tried it are クレパス(craypas), RoViN, TesЯoa (f.k.a. Rubik), Nollcrea-ノルクレア-, dr.tarantula, TRUST, Misaruka, ZeR'0-ゼロ, Six-Sence, and XALTEA. Don't feel out of the loop if you haven't heard of many of these bands, since conditional disbandment is the last resort tool of visual kei bands trapped in purgatory. It looks like a clever option when a band is good enough to become filler for someone else's headline but not good enough to keep devoted fans coming back for more.

Note to visual kei bands: if you reach the point where you contemplate this decision, just break up. Every band that has ever tried it has disappeared into the ether, even if they hit their goal. The track record is not good and I'm sure it leaves a negative impression upon all fans afterwards. I'm not against bands setting a milestone for themselves in private and calling it quits if they fail to reach it. Self-reflection is an admirable quality. Contorting this idea to manipulate fans and sell more concert tickets is gross.

 

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There's a lot of shady things that go down behind the scenes in visual kei. Tanuki is a haven for the latest gossip in the scene. While sometimes it's difficult to separate fact from fiction, quite a few surprising scandals started out as revelations from there, and quite a few more started as rumors that got so serious the police had to intervene. Browsing Tanuki reminds me that the scene is not as idealized as we envision it to be, and sometimes that's a good reminder. There are the less than glamorous parts to it, rife with scandals, drama, and poor decision making skills at the center of most of them. My not so subtle nod to SHINTARO from BLACK CAT is the most prominent example of Grade A douchebaggery  - he would take advantage of underage fans, coerce them into sex orgies with him, and then film it for blackmail later - but scandals expand beyond that in many different dimensions. After reading countless stories of band members stealing money and band equipment, disappearing unexpectedly from band activities, getting other scene members irresponsibly drunk and posting pictures of the event on social media, bullying, and a lot of acts classified only as "heinous" and "irredeemable" when someone gets kicked out of a band, I'm amazed that there hasn't been a moral panic of 'predators and debauchery in visual kei' on the news. It's pretty much an open secret that band members and devoted fans don't exactly have a healthy, symbiotic relationship, but looking at the darker corners of visual kei make you wonder about all the drama behind closed doors we never get to hear about. 

 

Like I said above, I have way more than five things that annoy me about the scene. Does anyone else want to fill in the gaps with practices that they hate that they've come to accept within the scene? Come share your frustrations and horror stories with me. We have plenty of tea and live-distributed crackers for you.

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I understand you so much :( i hate that 5 things, but other thing that i hate is when the booklet of the release comes with very few stuff (or even worse when the booklet comes without lyrics and photos, only the information of the band) . I'm not a fan of kpop but I understand that in their releases always deliver photos or other things, for almost the same price as in the VK, I don't know if some people also feel bad about that.

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2 hours ago, Zeus said:

All I can do is exhale slowly and be thankful this type of marketing cancer hasn't metastasized beyond visual kei.

idk if it's visual kei 2 blame for starting this, but every other current jpop release comes in the same 3-type flavor 

http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/release/music/j-pop/month/

while not every vk band does so.

 

10 minutes ago, BrenGun said:

I would replace the 5th with: Fan jealousy / Jealousy between bands. 

western twitter stanwars are just as bad/actually worse when Brazilian shakira stans go the f OFF.

Edited by nekkichi

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Live Dist releases for sure, and the new trend of the more settled older bands or a member of the said bands doing side project and releasing limited versions with super hefty prices, like, chill Chris Brown! Your DVD just not worth $50 no matter what 😂😂😂

 

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1 hour ago, nekkichi said:

western twitter stanwars are just as bad/actually worse when Brazilian shakira stans go the f OFF.

True that, still I think "Japanese" are a little bit more fast "jealous" about things than western. 

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Golden Bomber holds the record for releasing 47 types of single やんややんやNight〜踊ろよXX〜. Even if that's a joke, it's not funny. 

And mucc6 uploaded all of them.

A hero, truly.

Edited by Chi

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10 hours ago, LIDL said:

Live Dist releases for sure, and the new trend of the more settled older bands or a member of the said bands doing side project and releasing limited versions with super hefty prices, like, chill Chris Brown! Your DVD just not worth $50 no matter what 😂😂😂

 

Also with the possibility of this 🔥Super Deluxe Version🔥 having both sets of tracks from the other versions which makes it a basic cashgrab...👀

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This Live Limited Dist, are very annoying, they discourage me sometimes to meet some new artist. But for new artists, I think it's understandable.

 

 

 

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I'd say live dist. annoys me the least in this list. Producing music is expensive and spending more so three foreign fans will buy your single is just not worth it when you can keep it live and have 30+ people in japan who WILL go to your live and buy it.

We all know for average indie bands there's very few people overseas who actually do buy the releases if they are not uploaded, the most prominent example being the interesting discussion I had last night with @Duwang about 甘い簿力. If they did sold their CDs overseas, how many would actually purchase them and how many would just wait until someone else uploads them?

Sure, it's a hassle for foreign fans, but I can really see why some bands go that route or reward faithful attendees with a live dist song. Both Gotcharocka and D give a song for free about once a year at a tour final and it must be a nice present for those who actually do spend time and money on them. Why is a random fan in Europe who does not spend a dime on the band (because other bands are their priority) is suddenly entitled to have a HQ copy if the song? I think bands who don't abuse of live distributed releases do have the right to reward their fanbases.

 

Fandom jealousy, petty envy overseas and such are really bothersome. I can count with both hands cases of girls who've been bashed on social media by their fanbase just because they saved money and went to Japan and they fucking said they were there. I've been accused of bragging at least twice a year, for quite a while now,  for sharing what I get in the mail on my IG, and so have many others. That idiotic jealousy and comments such as "x band sucks, cuz their fangirls suck" hurt the scene much more tbh.

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1.) Fandom cattiness

There are some artists I've actually stopped seeing live because their fans just totally ruin the atmosphere, especially fans that have their eyes set so badly on one member, that they actively go out of their way to be passive aggressive or bully fans of that same member.

 

2.) Multiple type singles

Honestly just a huge cash grab to save a dying CD industry. I didn't mind as much in the past, but now it's so common that bands are really lazy about the content you get with each release/price point. I just bought the first press of PLC's new CD for like 15,000-something yen and I definitely did not feel like the content in any way warranted that kind of price. But it's ubiquitous in the Japanese VK/idol industry and I doubt it's going to change any time soon.

 

3.) Miscellaneous concert ticket/attendance fees

So you buy the ticket, but you also have to pay a service and/or shipping charge, on top of a drink fee. Just include everything in the damn price and be done with it. Rakuten Ticket is the absolute worse about not bundling ticket purchases together and making you pay a separate 900+ yen service/shipping fee for each ticket, even though all your separate tickets are just going to arrive at the same time anyway. Ugh. As for the drink thing, it feels like a cheap move when they're already pocketing off of live house rental cost, especially if the drink ticket is over 500 yen.

 

4.) Venue-limited only goods

Having to attend/find someone to attend and line-up for goods at every concert just to complete a set of things or get something special is a monumental pain in the ass. Just sell the things online and be done with it. I don't think I've ever known anyone to specifically attend a concert just for the goods, unless it's a live distribution only CD or something. Every now and then live-limited only goods are fine. Having live-only limited goods at all or almost every stop on your tour is a bit much imho.

 

5.) The general direction VK is going

It's just not my thing. There are newer artists I appreciate and listen to, but it's few and far between compared to how many older bands I love. The scene has definitely become more formulaic that it used to be, and although VK has always sold on looks, sometimes it's a bit much now.

 

I had to kind of struggle to come up with 5 things, tbh. Most are just mildly aggravating and not something I hate enough to rant about.

 

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One thing I hate about vk is the potential that shows up out of the rough of the vk bargain bin, and then said potential fades in the forms of certain members leaving bands, decline in sales in favor of more generic bands ect. Another pet peeve is when some bandmen just ghost the scene, like just please announce retirement instead of just spending time in limbo making people speculate whether or not you're coming back. I also hate constant release postponement, its one thing to delay it once but when you have to constantly halt release dates in favor of quality you really need to stop and think. (IM LOOKING AT YOU LIGRO)

 

 

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7 hours ago, Komorebi said:

I'd say live dist. annoys me the least in this list. Producing music is expensive and spending more so three foreign fans will buy your single is just not worth it when you can keep it live and have 30+ people in japan who WILL go to your live and buy it.

We all know for average indie bands there's very few people overseas who actually do buy the releases if they are not uploaded, the most prominent example being the interesting discussion I had last night with @Duwang about 甘い簿力. If they did sold their CDs overseas, how many would actually purchase them and how many would just wait until someone else uploads them?

Sure, it's a hassle for foreign fans, but I can really see why some bands go that route or reward faithful attendees with a live dist song. Both Gotcharocka and D give a song for free about once a year at a tour final and it must be a nice present for those who actually do spend time and money on them. Why is a random fan in Europe who does not spend a dime on the band (because other bands are their priority) is suddenly entitled to have a HQ copy if the song? I think bands who don't abuse of live distributed releases do have the right to reward their fanbases.

 

Fandom jealousy, petty envy overseas and such are really bothersome. I can count with both hands cases of girls who've been bashed on social media by their fanbase just because they saved money and went to Japan and they fucking said they were there. I've been accused of bragging at least twice a year, for quite a while now,  for sharing what I get in the mail on my IG, and so have many others. That idiotic jealousy and comments such as "x band sucks, cuz their fangirls suck" hurt the scene much more tbh.

But...the internet. You don't have to sell CDs to sell music anymore. It's a false equivalence in the age of gigabit internet.

 

In my opinion, blaming overseas fans for poor sales is a straw man argument. Plenty of non-visual indie acts from all over the world produce music on a dime and manage to sell it to anyone interested. In fact, most of these bands do the legwork with constant online promotion in order to get the word out, and promotion via word of mouth is free. We do it all the time on their behalf. We have YouTube, we have iTunes, we have SoundCloud, we have OTOTOY, we have Bandcamp, we have official home pages, and we have countless other services which provide instant international exposure for a minimal price. At what point does it transition from "music is expensive to make" to "fuck you foreigners, you don't get to hear these particular songs"? Because honestly, that's what this whole live-distributed music has transformed into from the perspective of someone who is never going to take a trip to Japan.

 

Also, there's a big, BIG difference between a live distributed release that functions as a preview and a live distributed release that functions as a present. One of them might end up on a future release available for international purchase. The other disappears into the sands of time. Limited live-distributed releases in particular are a form of ass cancer that needs to go terminal and die. That's intentionally spending money and limiting your exposure for no appreciable gain.

 

If you have money for wigs and photo shoots but not enough money to record music, you're doing the whole visual kei band thing wrong.

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The one I dislike the most is multiple type releases... Type A, B, C, D.. with different contents, split, one with booklet, the other without it.. etc. I like to buy physical copies of the albums I want, and this is always an issue, it's sad to buy the same thing many times just for the different contents. I think there should always be 2 versions. A normal standard version, and a version with all the whatever multiple goodies they want to include, even if its more expensive, I think this way is a lot better.   Into similar topics, FC limited releases, that then are sold for a lot of money in auctions.. why just don't sell normally to everybody?  through manufacture by order or whatever method, I understand the FC needs to offer benefits, but it shouldn't be in the actual releases that the band makes in my opinion.

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Definitely second live-limited/Fan Club limited releases and multiple type releases.

 

Live limited

I understand selling special live-limited releases to attract more attendees or give them something memorable to remember the live by, but I don't think it should be exclusive music. A good example is Mucc's recent releases for Shin-Tsuuzetsu and Shin-Homurauta because they only differed in artwork from the commercial releases. Sure, there were a couple privelege CDS included with them too but it was demo material and a live recording (I believe). 

 

Web Store release but no international shipping

It's a different slap in the face when a band offers up a special edition of a release exclusive to their webstore or a specific webfront but doesn't ship outside Japan. I'm looking at you sukekiyo. There's no extra work involved and, if they're worried about risk, they can offer insured/signature shipping as the only option.

 

I also ran into this problem when trying to order Charisma.com's "ai ai syndrome" on vinyl directly from the label T-annex. The person who responded was kind enough to point me to a service that would do it for me (and even gave me instructions) but I just don't see why they couldn't do it themselves. Especially since apparently they had gotten multiple requests for this within the past few months.

 

No Vinyl Releases

In general, there's a serious lack of Japanese music on vinyl. There's been some reissues of really popular bands on vinyl in recent years (shiina ringo, hyde, bonnie pink, kyary pamyu pamyu), but these are few and far between. I understand that for the smaller vkei bands that it's not a financially viable option. But for big name bands like the GazettE and Dir en grey, it's not such a risky move. Dir en grey have even done it before twice (more if you count the Gauze and Vulgar promos) but perhaps lack of sales dissuaded them to continue producing them.  Even if I lost interest in Mucc, it was exciting to see that they released their most recent album "Myakuhaku" on vinyl.

 

There's been a resurgence of interest in Japanese oldies on vinyl and labels like WeReleaseWhateverTheFuckWeWant records have taken the reigns on reissuing these to the masses. Someone needs to do the same for vkei artists!

 

Lackluster mixing

I've heard some of the most absolute worst mixing from within vkei bands. A prime example is lynch. (since joining King Records). They're mixing makes their music lack dynamic range so that it fails to deliver any punch. There are always certain frequency ranges missing  from their guitars and it drives me nuts that what could sound full and rich sounds hollow and like its playing through a tube.

 

Generally though, I find mixing in vkei music to be overcompressed and in need of more complex dynamics. Having everything 100% cranked isn't the answer to every song and sometimes you need things to quiet down. It seems this is much more common in bigger bands who you would think would be more concerned with details like this. 

 

Bands like Dezert use compression as a technique to create their harsh and distorted sound, but they also know when to tone it down and let the music breath a little. I'd rather listen to lo-fi but dynamically diverse mixing over clean but one-tone of dynamics any day.

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When artists change their names it makes it so hard to follow or trace their career.

Some do it every time they change bands.

The one that stung me the most was akito from meth.. After his 1/f no Yuragi project ended, he quietly changed his name to Haru to make vocaloid covers on niconico which no one knew about. Then he deleted his twitter account and dropped off the face of the earth.

 

Somewhere otogi is living another life with a different name and identity.

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- the bands who do who do emotional blackmail towards their fans like "if xxx peoples don't come in our live show we will disband"

- good vocalists or/and talented musicians who disapear like a ghost when theirs band disbands or if they comeback they play in mediocre bands.

- a band disband few months or year later the same members will create a new band with new stage names but they will play exactly the same music

- the band who will change theirs sounds only for try to be more popular like pop-rock band who will do broootal-kei sound or brootal-kei band who will do generic and soft sounds

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On 5/29/2018 at 1:23 AM, ghost said:

 

 

Web Store release but no international shipping

It's a different slap in the face when a band offers up a special edition of a release exclusive to their webstore or a specific webfront but doesn't ship outside Japan. I'm looking at you sukekiyo. There's no extra work involved and, if they're worried about risk, they can offer insured/signature shipping as the only option.

 

You can absolutely get international shipping with Sukekiyo. I ordered Adoratio directly from the Galaxy Broad shop.

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1 hour ago, Saishu said:

You can absolutely get international shipping with Sukekiyo. I ordered Adoratio directly from the Galaxy Broad shop.

Oh, that's great. I remember years ago though for Immortalis they weren't offering international shipping. It's good it's an option now.

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Immortalis and Vitium were both available thru other stores, though. It wasn’t until Anima when they started selling directly from their own shop (or whoever Galaxy Broad belongs to). 

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18 hours ago, Saishu said:

Immortalis and Vitium were both available thru other stores, though. It wasn’t until Anima when they started selling directly from their own shop (or whoever Galaxy Broad belongs to). 

I must amend my statement then!

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this is an interesting topic -- to be honest, perfect thread to vent :D

 

as for me ;

1. bands dressed with "dress" (ie, princess, mini skirts, literally feminine make ups) : i just cant digest this despite ive been into japanese rock for more than 20 years

2. live distributed releases : well ... tough luck. i aint in japan so it make sense.

3. multi version releases : i understand japanese love to "collect'em all", but hell, it's hard for me to catch up with all those releases

4. weird indies with weird vibratos and weird squeaky voices : i cant remember what band, but one of those indies had a weird voice. but there are a lot of those.

5. merches that do not sell internationally : i know i can get some of them through cdjapan or other sites . . . but shame.

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On 5/29/2018 at 6:17 AM, Zeus said:

But...the internet. You don't have to sell CDs to sell music anymore. It's a false equivalence in the age of gigabit internet.

 

In my opinion, blaming overseas fans for poor sales is a straw man argument. Plenty of non-visual indie acts from all over the world produce music on a dime and manage to sell it to anyone interested. In fact, most of these bands do the legwork with constant online promotion in order to get the word out, and promotion via word of mouth is free. We do it all the time on their behalf. We have YouTube, we have iTunes, we have SoundCloud, we have OTOTOY, we have Bandcamp, we have official home pages, and we have countless other services which provide instant international exposure for a minimal price. At what point does it transition from "music is expensive to make" to "fuck you foreigners, you don't get to hear these particular songs"? Because honestly, that's what this whole live-distributed music has transformed into from the perspective of someone who is never going to take a trip to Japan.

 

Also, there's a big, BIG difference between a live distributed release that functions as a preview and a live distributed release that functions as a present. One of them might end up on a future release available for international purchase. The other disappears into the sands of time. Limited live-distributed releases in particular are a form of ass cancer that needs to go terminal and die. That's intentionally spending money and limiting your exposure for no appreciable gain.

 

If you have money for wigs and photo shoots but not enough money to record music, you're doing the whole visual kei band thing wrong.

 

i think the so-called "promotion" is exaggerated because (i) most of the supposed promotion we do (esp in the form of piracy *cough*) does almost nothing for the target market segment of the bands, i.e. people who can and will go to their lives; (ii) as @Komorebi has mentioned, most of us would be like OMGZ THIS BAND IS GOOD and proceed to recline deeper into our armchair waiting for someone else to upload the band's next release. maybe this sounds a little harsh, but it's supremely arrogant of us to think that the band is obliged to go out of their way to cater to the convenience of international fans when they have literally nothing to gain other than "international exposure"--which in most cases is little more than the comfort offered by the thought that there are now 10 more people outside Japan listening to their music and typing 'awwww they were good' in a forum somewhere when they are on the brink of disbandment.

 

no one's blaming oversea fans for poor sales so much as they are pointing out that in making venue-limited music readily available (through streaming or mail order), the band exacts a potentially high price on the revenue from lives and buppan sales, which is their main, if not exclusive, source of profit. let's bear in mind that most indie bands in fact make only enough copies of CDs to offset the production costs involved, and selling 1 CD at buppan is roughly equivalent to having to sell 2 CDs through VK CD shops, which is why small bands usually start off with live-limited cds before having shops carry their music a few releases later when they don't need the live proceeds that desperately. obviously one could complain about the questionable efficiency of a CD-based industry today (as opposed to one based in digital distribution), but that's a different conversation and the scope of that problem exceeds the specificity of vk. if i'm a bandman doing the cost-benefit analysis in view of existing structural constraints, i would have done the exact same thing. 

 

i'm far from loaded and would prefer it if i didn't have to stalk auctions for a year before paying 20k yen for a CD that was handed out for free. but it's easier to take it less personally if we actually remember that the bands aren't charity organizations whose raison d'etre is to hand out their music to as many people as possible even if it's financially unsustainable. for me, at the end of the day it all comes down to judging how much time/effort/money i'm willing to commit to seeking out these rare CDs, and as with everything there's a point beyond which it's just not worth it anymore. (this is also easier to accept if we realize that a lot of japanese fans, too, have to make huge sacrifices time- and money-wise to get the stuff they want.)

 

there are 2 concessions i'll make though. the first: where it gets annoying and unacceptable to me is when bands deliberately make it absurdly difficult for fans who can/will attend their lives to get releases, by coming up with tricks like 'assemble ticket stubs for 3 lives in our tour and present them at the tour final buppan for a special CD.' i get tetchy when bands try to milk fans who are already doing all they can to support the band. the other is the open question of whether it's conceptually possible to make live limited CDs available to international fans while not hurting their live/buppan sales. BLESSCODE tried something like that when they sold Eau de toilette and Bizarre on the Vstar webshop and made it such that only international fans were allowed to purchase them online. But this plainly isn't feasible for bands who lack the relevant connections and I can't see bandmen who aren't as insanely enthusiastic as masaya about making it "fair" for everyone to get their music putting in half that much effort. It's also depressing that for a band who was at least somewhat known in the international vk fandom, they didn't even manage to sell THAT many extra copies - which makes one wonder if it's even worth all the logistical hassle at all.

 

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4 hours ago, hiroki said:

i think the so-called "promotion" is exaggerated because (i) most of the supposed promotion we do (esp in the form of piracy *cough*) does almost nothing for the target market segment of the bands, i.e. people who can and will go to their lives; (ii) as @Komorebi has mentioned, most of us would be like OMGZ THIS BAND IS GOOD and proceed to recline deeper into our armchair waiting for someone else to upload the band's next release. maybe this sounds a little harsh, but it's supremely arrogant of us to think that the band is obliged to go out of their way to cater to the convenience of international fans when they have literally nothing to gain other than "international exposure"--which in most cases is little more than the comfort offered by the thought that there are now 10 more people outside Japan listening to their music and typing 'awwww they were good' in a forum somewhere when they are on the brink of disbandment.

 

In my opinion, there even being a divide between "international" and "local" fans is the root of an entirely different problem. Fans are fans, no matter where they may live, and we live in a time where the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. There's a distinction in my mind between a local artist who has their music internationally available (example: a rapper promoting his first mix tape on sound cloud) and an international artist only promoting their music locally (example: fan-club limited CD's a la cali≠gari). Even if a local artist has to rely on word of mouth to have their music spread to new ears, having it available on a venue such as Bandcamp or Spotify doesn't actually cost them anything to attract new listeners. They upload it once, the big man upstairs takes his cut, and whatever funds come your way through those sources are yours. And think about how many of these artists go viral and actually become mildly or wildly successful because their music was easy to access. This is in contrast to only promoting music locally, which doesn't necessarily take less money to produce, and is purposefully reaching a smaller audience. Sometimes, bands even go out of their way to make it difficult for non-Japanese people to engage with them, like when record labels purposefully prohibit selling releases overseas through second hand shops even though they aren't footing the shipping bill, or when the label uploads a PV to their official channel and then region-locks it to Japan so that we have to use VPNs to watch a music video on an international platform. Stick some fucking ads before the video and make some free money god damn it.

Here's an excerpt from Bandcamp's pricing page where the explain how they run their business.

Quote

Pricing

 

Artist accounts are free. We make money through our revenue share on sales, which is 15% for digital, 10% for merch. We also offer Bandcamp Pro (our premium tier for artists), and Bandcamp for Labels, both for a monthly fee.

 

Is there a volume discount?

Yes, the revenue share on digital drops from 15% to 10% as soon as you reach $5,000 USD in sales (and stays there, provided you’ve made at least $5,000 in the past 12 months).

 

For merch sales, does the 10% revenue share apply to shipping and tax?

No. Shipping and tax, if applicable, are not included when calculating the share on merch.

 

Are payment processing fees included in the revenue share rates?

No, processing fees are separate and typically range between 4 and 6%. Please see the details here, including tips on what you can do to minimize those fees.

 

Is there a break for higher-priced items?

 

Yes. Many expensive items are sold through Bandcamp, like deluxe packages and beat licenses, and with name-your-price we occasionally see superfans paying hundreds of dollars for a single album or track (thanks, mom!). The revenue share applies to the first $100 of an item only (or the item total when more than one of that item is purchased).
 

How do I get paid on Bandcamp?

You’ll receive payouts from us in your PayPal account. If you haven’t set one up yet, head over here.

 

The majority of accounts on Bandcamp use our Standard Payments system. Under Standard Payments, payments for digital and physical items are processed separately.

 

Payments for digital items are processed first by Bandcamp and paid out to your PayPal account 24-48 hours later. (Higher-value purchases, like a track that sells for $500, are manually reviewed and may take up to 14 days.) We collect our 10-15% revenue share at the time of sale along with payment processor fees.

Payments for physical merchandise are paid directly from the fan to your PayPal account without being processed through Bandcamp. Since we aren't able to collect our revenue share at the time of the transaction, we instead keep a running tab of the amount owed, which we call your "revenue share balance." That balance is automatically paid off with proceeds collected from future sales (e.g. a percentage of your digital sales or an entire physical sale less than the owed balance).

Now I don't suggest this in lieu of signing a record deal, because a deal also comes with other benefits such as free promotion, practice space, and studio time. But for a lot of starting, independent visual kei bands that don't have a lot of funds, this is the more ideal way to go. We don't even know how well this approach would work because no band has ever tried it. I listen to both the underground metal scene as well as the doujin scene from Japan, and both scenes run their affairs completely differently, and both manage to promote their music and ship internationally way more efficiently than visual kei bands. The way the visual kei scene runs its affairs in 2018 is almost identical to the way they did it in 2008. It's been ten years and not much has changed, and the underlying attitudes pervading the scene are even earlier than that. The world is changing, and bands must prepare and adapt.

You are entirely correct in that most of us would never buy a release. I am guilty of this too, no doubt. Many record companies realize this, and that's why they are transitioning to streaming services. Japan needs to catch up. I don't even like streaming services, and I still prefer to download and hoard all my music, but I recognize the appeal and utility in what they offer. Complaining about being on the brink of disbandment while spending large amounts of money on make-up, outfits, and photo shoots means concessions have to be made somewhere, and if the way that music is distributed has to change then so be it. Visual kei needs to become more consumer friendly, no matter where that consumer may live.

 

I should make an addendum to my earlier post and clarify that live-distributed releases don't bother me if they function as a preview. If whatever music or DVD or merch sold at a live is eventually included in a store-purchasable fashion, then I'm fine with waiting. I'd have to wait anyway, and at least the luck portion is removed from the equation. Extract your profits up front, and then sell it to the masses later. If pumping out CDs stresses the budget that much, take orders and only sell as many CDs as was ordered so no band ends up with hundreds of unsold releases. Hell, do what Kisaki did and distribute any remaining CDs through auctions online under anonymous accounts at a later date so all the money goes back to the band anyway. But only selling things at lives sucks for everyone who couldn't go, international fan or not, and you don't make as much money as you could have if you just sold it both ways.
 

4 hours ago, hiroki said:

BLESSCODE tried something like that when they sold Eau de toilette and Bizarre on the Vstar webshop and made it such that only international fans were allowed to purchase them online. But this plainly isn't feasible for bands who lack the relevant connections and I can't see bandmen who aren't as insanely enthusiastic as masaya about making it "fair" for everyone to get their music putting in half that much effort. It's also depressing that for a band who was at least somewhat known in the international vk fandom, they didn't even manage to sell THAT many extra copies - which makes one wonder if it's even worth all the logistical hassle at all.

This is a ... weird approach to take, but I actually like that masaya cared enough about the international fans to make it available to us in some fashion. BLESSCODE tried something different, and it wasn't at the expense of the consumer's time, money, and effort. Maybe they didn't make that much money off of it, but the alternative was to have a bunch of pressed yet unsold CDs sitting around, which would just mean that's wasted money anyway. Sometimes the sentiment behind actions are priceless, and I know many fans of BLESSCODE appreciated this gesture. I sure do, and I'm not even a fan of them!

I would really like to understand the logistics behind how this whole scene works from top to bottom, because the more I sit and think about it the more I feel like there's a few people at the top holding back progress for everyone else. A lot of counter arguments I can make to my own points is that some big wig sitting in a cushy office set up a contract expressly forbidding bands from implementing half the ideas I proposed, which makes most of my arguments moot anyway. Record companies may be making record profits these days, but on that same token artists and musicians have more tools and promotion than at any time in history before. The fact that we know about every single upstart indies band in Japan just weeks or even days after they formed is a far cry from how the scene was back in 1999, when only the biggest names in the scene were whispered in noisy American cafeterias with 128kbps sound samples and low res PV snippets available online in two to three places, with a random selection of full tracks available for the pirating on Napster.

 

tl;dr - a band is both a business and an investment. It may sound harsh, but just because a bunch of pretty boys slap on make up doesn't mean that they can get away with running their business inefficiently. Diversify and adapt, or face disbandment.

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Personally speaking, my biggest issue has been with jealous overseas fans. I’m a lot more guarded than I used to be. People have spoken ill of both me and my partner online. It really upset her, and frankly annoyed the shit out of me since I was never anything but kind and helpful to anyone I came across. 

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