J-Pop Group Little Glee Monster Talks Streaming, Connecting with Fans Outside of Japan: Interview
Little Glee Monster is a J-pop vocal group that made its major-label debut in 2014. The five-member girl group has since steadily gained mainstream traction, appearing in the prestigious annual year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen music program for the first time in 2017, selling out its first arena concerts in Yokohama and Osaka earlier this year, and successfully wrapping up its first headlining Asia tour this summer.
Little Glee Monster will be one of the featured acts in the second NOW PLAYING JAPAN live event scheduled for Oct. 30 at Shinkiba Studio Coast in Tokyo, Japan. The NOW PLAYING JAPAN project organized by Billboard Japan, Space Shower TV, and 11 domestic streaming services aims to encourage listeners to participate in creating new music trends.
The way people listen to music has changed dramatically in recent years. Members manaka (17), Serina (20), Karen (20), MAYU (18), and Asahi (19) spoke with Billboard Japan about how they consume music and their thoughts on the possibilities of streaming after interacting with fans outside of Japan during their recent Asia trek.
You'll be performing in the NOW PLAYING JAPAN LIVE vol. 2 music event in October. This event is the culmination of a project launched by Billboard Japan, Space Shower TV, and domestic streaming services with a focus on what defines a hit song when there are so many ways to consume music, including CDs, downloading, and streaming. Do you use streaming services?
manaka: I do. I did use to buy and listen to CDs more often because I felt pretty strongly about wanting to own CDs rather than just having the music in data form. But when I began streaming music after realizing that it might be more convenient, I found that it really was! When I used to buy CDs, I'd have to go to a CD shop, come home and turn on my computer and rip the music so that I can listen to a certain song. And even after all that trouble, there were albums that I never finished listening to. But with streaming, I can listen to something immediately when it catches my interest, and as many times as I want so I can decide whether to buy the CD. It's so convenient. So now, I stream music to decide what CDs to buy next.
Serina: Like manaka, I also look for music that I didn't know about through streaming and buy the CD if I like it. I also like relatively old music, and enjoy listening to vinyl at home, so I also sometimes buy vinyl records by artists that I discovered through streaming.
Karen: I also stream music but listen to CDs more often. I take the CDs that I either bought or received from other artists that we performed with and rip them to a computer. I've always wanted to own CDs of my favorite artists, so I make an effort to buy them, even if the songs are available through streaming.
MAYU: Like Karen, I also used to copy songs to a computer to listen to them, but I'm not very good with computers so my father used to do it for me. But now, I don't have the time to go back to my parents' place to ask him, so I've been downloading new songs that I want to listen to. I also check out songs on YouTube.
Asahi: I began streaming music after manaka introduced me to it. You can hear so many songs that way, and there are numerous playlists for each artist, so it's really fun once you start using it.
When do you listen to music?
Serina: On my way home from work. I also sometimes listen to CDs and vinyl at home.
Karen: I also listen when I'm on my way somewhere, as well as stream music at home.
manaka: I don't sit down to listen to music much at home. I often listen on my way to and from work. In fact, I pretty much always listen to music when I'm on my way somewhere.
MAYU: I'm the other way around and listen a lot more at home. I can do housework while listening to music so I often play it while doing something else. I feel more motivated with music on, and it helps me get more work done.
Asahi: I listen to music a lot while I'm taking a bath. I don't get spooked with my eyes closed when there's music playing. (Laughs)
In July, you performed in Taiwan and Hong Kong as part of your first Asia tour. Did you feel any differences between those shows and the ones in Japan?
Karen: I think it was someone from Taiwan, but someone told us during an interview after our show that they loved Little Glee Monster most in the world. We realized that so many people in Asian countries outside of Japan knew about us, which made us so happy. We sang one song in the local language in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, but the rest of the set was in Japanese, and yet everyone sang along.
Serina: When we did "Sukida" in particular, everyone really sang along with us, didn't they?
Asahi: Yeah. And it was striking how so many people were trying their best to catch the Japanese lyrics.
Serina: More and more foreign people have been coming to our shows in Japan recently. The other day, I noticed a foreign-looking person at an event, and I figured maybe he was born and raised in Japan, but it turned out he came all the way from his home country to see us. What's more, I was really surprised to find out that this person had come to our Taiwan and Hong Kong shows with his girlfriend. I never got a chance to ask him how he found out about us, but maybe he discovered us through streaming, like how we find foreign artists we didn't know about that way. I think it'd be great if this kind of network keeps growing.
manaka: I agree. It's amazing how you can connect with people from all over the world through streaming. You find out about foreign artists that you didn't know about. I like making playlists and checking out other people's as well, and with streaming, you can listen to playlists by people from other countries. Being able to listen to playlists by people from countries that I've never been to is one of the awesome things about streaming.