Japanese Ticketing Giant Pia and Promoter Udo Launch 'Upcoming' Agency

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Two major players in Japan's music industry, the biggest ticketing agency Pia and a leading promoter of international repertoire Udo Artists, have joined forces to create a management agency for musical acts.

The two powerhouses have opened the Upcoming agency, and plan to build a roster of pop, rock and other artists to enter the market in Japan, and worldwide.

Keisuke Endo, the managing director of Upcoming tells Billboard, "In the past we at Udo thought a promoter and other aspects of the music industry should be separate, but the business environment now means in order to grow our revenue we have to develop new avenues."

To this end Udo reached out to Pia and suggested a partnership. Says Endo, "we wanted to develop artists but of course we were also concerned with the marketing side so we thought about who would be best to join forces with. Pia has the ability to reach 12 million subscribers so that was a factor." He adds. "Of course we've had a strong relationship with them for a long time since they sell tickets to our shows. They're a very effective company and the staff is extremely creative."

The structure of the company might come as a surprise to those familiar with Udo's primary position as an international rock promoter in Japan. The partners have equal shares in the new venture. Endo notes, "We thought about how to divide the shares and we decided to go 50-50. We want Pia to put tremendous effort into this project so we thought this was a good way to incentivize them."

On the type of artists Upcoming is looking for Endo muses, "We're not looking to take over the management of artists already well known. We want to develop our own talent from scratch and put new and exciting faces on the market."

Endo acknowledges that finding the right talent will be a challenge but he thinks the resources of the two companies will help Upcoming. "Pia has a staff of about one thousand people. As such they go to just about every show of new bands and artists so we have a great ear-to-the-ground there. With Pia's reach and our ability to recognize talent this offers us a good opportunity to find acts."

Given the situation of recorded music around the world Endo stresses Upcoming will rely on three revenue streams that have proven effective in Japan. "We'll concentrate on live performance, merchandise and fan clubs for our artists. These will be our primary targets for income for the acts we'll manage."


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