Tokyo International Music Market Brings Industry Together

Sync Panel at Tokyo International Music Market with (from left to right) Josh Rabinowitz, Josh Burke and Kristen Hosack
Credit Rob Schwartz

Sync Panel at Tokyo International Music Market with (from left to right) Josh Rabinowitz, Josh Burke and Kristen Hosack

Heavyweights of the sync world took part in the 14th Tokyo International Music Market (TIMM), held Oct. 23-25 at the Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu, where China and anime were among the hot topics. 

The event is put together by industry body PROMIC and is the only industry-wide market in the world's second-biggest music economy. And this year, TIMM welcomed 35 exhibitors and attendance from 15 countries and regions in addition to Japan. 

“China is no longer just a pirate market, it’s a big market and there is a lot interest," Tak Furuichi, director of PROMIC and architect of the conference told Billboard. "A lot of Chinese buyers are here by invitation. Another focus is anime music. It’s been one of Japan’s biggest exports for a long time.” He added, “I’d like to internationalize TIMM. It’s been about presenting Japanese music to international buyers and that looks like a one-way street. It should be more a two-way street. I’ve made the showcases more international.”

Japan has been developing innovative ways to expand anime sales internationally. This year Aniuta Inc. established Anisong, a subscription music service for anime songs and soundtracks. Shiro Sasaki, CEO of Aniuta and Shunji Inoue, chairman of Bandai Namco Live Creative Inc., held a panel to discuss the business model and its possibilities.

Sasaki observed, “The animation audience is expanding worldwide so we are very optimistic about the future (of Anisong).” He also noted, “international artists are eager to collaborate so this is a route to the market worldwide.” Inoue was somewhat more measured and offered domestic musicians some advice, “Japanese artists could concentrate on learning foreign languages like English and Chinese to make tracks that are more suitable for the international market.” He also suggested that despite the cult popularity of Japanese animation some domestic stars didn’t want to be pigeonholed. “Some artists don’t want to be identified when they are recording animation songs.”

Another presentation which touched on some cutting edge issues was a blockchain panel featuring Takayuki Suzuki (president, ParadeAll), Yutaka Inaba (vice chairman, Music Publishers Association of Japan), Akira Nomoto (director, Artist & Label Services, Spotify Japan) and Koji Urabe (president, Sockets Inc.). Inaba identified a problem in the music industry, asserting that only 10% of Japan’s 240 broadcasting do proper reporting of copyright use. He suggested that blockchain technology could help solve this problem through two companies engaged in the market. “Soundmouse will collaborate with Reko Choku using new fingerprinting technology to identify Japanese songs.” Reko Choku is a music subscription service, digital store and tech innovator in Japan. The new tie-up is expected to launch in December and aims to start by fingerprinting 800,00 Japanese songs.

Mark Frieser, CEO of Disconic, and one of the major sync connections between Japan and the US, organized a panel addressing sync and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, bringing industry stalwarts Josh Rabinowitz, EVP director of music at Townhouse, Kristen Hosack, music supervisor at Saatchi and Saatchi, and Josh Burke, head of music sourcing at The Coca-Cola Company.

Frieser told Billboard TIMM can open doors for syncs. “The Tokyo Olympics are coming and people at (international) brands and advertisers are making their decisions for music. They have mandates from their corporate CEOs and agencies to find authentic Japanese music that also is decent. And they don’t really have any insight into that. So this event can be really helpful for that.”

Burke noted, “TIMM is important because it gives us an opportunity to be exposed to bands and artists we would normally not be exposed to. Specifically for big international programs like the Olympics, it’s a platform that allows us to discover music that we can then bring to the rest of the world.”

In total, more than 5,200 people took in the TIMM market, conference and related performances.

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