The Tokyo Dance Music Event Grows, Celebrates its Second Edition

Ultra Music Festival 2016 at Odaiba Ultra Park in Tokyo.

Ultra Music Festival 2016 at Odaiba Ultra Park in Tokyo. 

More than 1,000 dance music professionals from across Asia plugged into the second annual Tokyo Dance Music Event, held Nov. 30–Dec. 3.

The brainchild of Lauren Rose Kocher, an international marketing manager at Sony Music Entertainment Japan, the event focuses on strengthening the electronic music scene in Japan as well as encouraging international collaboration, particularly with other Asian artists. With a multi-faceted format comprising a conference, production workshops and DJ gigs, it remains the only electronic music conference in the world’s second biggest music market.

TDME is something of an anomaly in the inward-focused Japanese market. Kocher explains, “Japan has no international bilingual music conference to help connect international artists and Japanese artists – and electronic music as a genre is very friendly to international collaboration. We thought why don’t we make an ADE for Asia?” The event delivered, featuring talks by industry stalwarts, a wealth of information on the growth of electronic music, workshops and master classes, and a network of shows throughout the hip Shibuya area of Tokyo.

TDME is programmed for cross-fertilization, Kocher notes. It's an international platform for Japanese artists to "make global connections as well as a place for international organizations to address the Japanese music industry directly," she continues. “TDME offers a chance to meet with labels, promoters, and artists from around the world – just in our first two years we’ve welcomed major festival promoters from Malaysia, Thailand, China, and club promoters from India and the Philippines. Last year Toolroom Records participated in a big way, and this year we welcomed Spinnin’ Records and together held the first Spinnin’ Sessions show in Japan.”

Attendance at TDME 2017 grew about 25% from its first incarnation -- around 800 participated -- with 41 presentations and panels featuring 91 speakers.

Steve Mayall, MD of Music Ally offered insightful highlights from a study of the Japanese electronic music industry his company conducted. He noted Japan is the No. 2 music market in the world and the leader in per capita spending on recorded music. Norway and Sweden are No. 2 and 3 because streaming has revolutionized those markets, but Mayall observed streaming is still not a major market factor in Japan, which is a mainly a physical market. His research found that, of the top 10 Billboard Japan songs from 2016, only one was available on Spotify -- PikoTaro’s gimmick track PPAP. Six out of ten were available on Apple Music. While streaming has a long way to go to make an impact on the Japanese music market Mayall did relate that, according to the Record Industry Association of Japan, 42.7 % of Japanese discover new music through YouTube, so the digital platforms are making inroads in Japan.

Vlada Didenko, director of IMS Asia-Pacific and director of A2Live, a leading Chinese electronic music company, gave an overview of her firm and a study it did on the Chinese market. A2Live is a promoter, venue owner, record label, artist developer and manager, and media company best known for the touring Storm Festival, which plays in multiple Chinese cities. Didenko noted that 53% of Chinese consumers of electronic music are between the age of 20 and 30. Most notably, she said the country had 197 million electronic music consumers in 2016 and the study predicted that number would be 455 million in 2020. In addition their research suggested in 5 years the Chinese electronic music market would have revenue of $10 billion.