To fill the absence of news with something interesting (aside from our weekly project, of course), I thought I would share some thoughts concerning B'z current promotion strategy and why I think it doesn't pay off.
Last year, B'z announced their first North American tour in 8 years, creating major hype among international B'z fans. Tickets for the 3 stop tour were sold out in a couple of days. But this time, it's different. The band is playing on the East coast for the very first time with additional gigs in Toronto, Silver Spring and New York City. If you look at the ticket availability on ticketmaster, you'll see that none of the shows haven't been sold out yet -- not by a long shot. Even the popular gig in Los Angeles isn't sold out yet, although a whole lot of Japanese fans will be in attendance.
So, why do you think is that?
Well, B'z management has certainly miscalculated what kind of reception the band would receive in North America. The band has released a top notch EP with 5 songs in English on iTunes and yet they're not promoting it well enough. Niche sites are picking up the press release but does that gain any exposure for B'z? Nope, not at all. They should try to get B'z into the main rock market. Go public. Where's an article about the almighty Japanese rock group in the New York Times? Where's an interview with Tak and Koshi on "Talk Asia" on CNN?
I personally think that they're underestimating their fame. Even Ayumi Hamasaki and Anna Tsuchiya have made it on CNN. So why shouldn't B'z? They're huge in Japan and yet they promote themselves like some niche band in North America. I wouldn't mind if they played Love Bomb on the radio – would you?
They should finally promote themselves for what they really are: The best selling Japanese rock band in Japanese history. They're the first and so far only asian band to be inducted into the Hollywood Rockwalk of fame. Tak Matsumoto's the first asian artist to receive his own signature Gibson. They mean big business, and they are big business. While I appreciate the fact that Slash and Mike Shinoda are promoting the release of the B'z EP, I don't think it'll get those fanbases to listen to B'z.
And of course... there's another thing... why is B'z promoting themselves mostly in the Japanese community in North America? I do get that Japanese living in North America should get a chance to see the band, but really... if you're doing promotion... do it the right way!
What do you guys think? What should B'z do? Fire away in the comments!
The special 50th B'z single, GO FOR IT, BABY -Kioku no Sanmyaku-, is now out, and what better way to celebrate than to watch the music video complete with English translation!
Also don't forget to check out this week's entry in our Weekly B'z series featuring "DIVE" and "OCEAN" from 2010's "Ain't No Magic" tour, where we subtitle a new B'z video every Wednesday at 6:00 PM Eastern U.S. time!
Just to give everyone a preview of B'z latest song Into Free -Dangan- which is a re-recorded, English version of Samayoeru Aoi Dangan released in 1998, I have put up the video of the LA performance from last year for everyone to enjoy. As previously reported, the song is the theme song to Capcom's upcoming game Dragon's Dogma.
You can check out the preliminary lyrics here: http://bzwiki.offthelock.com/Into_Free_-Dangan-_(Lyrics)
Tour: B'z LIVE-GYM 2011 -long time no see-
Venue: Club Nokia, Los Angeles
Date: July 24th, 2011
I got up at 5AM, just to listen to the interview with B'z on J-Wave... how crazy is that, huh? Anyway, as promised, I'm going to give you an overview of what they talked about in the interview as well as what Tak and Koshi revealed about it. Here we go!
- They already started recording for the new album in May 2010, but that doesn't mean it took them 1 year to record the album. They paused their recording, so they could focus on their solo projects.
- After their solo projects, they decided to take a break and then meet again to start collecting ideas for the album
- They didn't decide on a theme at all, unlike they usually do
- After a while, they came to see what theme it's going to be and started work with their staff
- When the big earthquake happened on March 11th 2011, they were already in the final stages of recording.
- The earthquake affected Koshi's creative skills, so he wasn't able to come up with any new ideas as the disaster concerned them.
- As for Tak Matsumoto, he was able to do the rhythm track for the last two tracks after the earthquake.
- They created two whole new tracks after the earthquake. New lyrics were written for only one of those two after the earthquake. One of them is on the album.
- The production process can be broken up into "pre-earthquake" and "post-earthquake" as it affected their work.
- It was hard for them to put the songs from these two stages together into one album
- After the earthquake, Shane and Barry quickly came back to Japan to resume recording (of the two songs)
- C'mon is the only track where Koshi changed the lyrics after the earthquake happened. The song would give off a different character that way.
- When Koshi thought about a fitting theme for the new album. The word "C'mon" came to his mind. As putting the songs on that album wouldn't work, they also created a title song with the same name.
Tak's and Koshi's solo projects
- Nothing new to report here. They talked about how Tak won the Grammy and how they coordinated their solo activities.
Production of songs
- Tak didn't have a stock of arranged songs, he created the album from scratch.
- Since Tak didn't have any idea what the theme/concept for the overall album is going to be, he did the songs one at a time, independently
- Koshi started getting ideas for the lyrics during arrangement
- Koshi tries to get the image of the song first, and then writes the lyrics for it; It also happens that he draws from previous ideas he came up with, but remained unused until now
- Sometimes they talk about the album while having lunch; but otherwise rarely talk about the album outside of the studio
- As the riff is very important, Tak starts out with the riff and then does the melody.
- Koshi also saves ideas for lyrics on his mobile phone (sends himself E-mails)
- Tak talks to Koshi about what image he had in mind when composing the song. Koshi then goes on to write the lyrics for it
About the song "Pilgrim"
- "Pilgrim" is the first song that was produced for the album in 2010
- Tak says the song was originally one of his acoustic guitar demos
- Koshi says he was thinking about the 4 seasons as they come and pass and got his first idea for the song when he saw the cherry blossoms
About LIVE-GYM 2011 -C'mon-
- They're having frequent meetings concerning the planning for LIVE-GYM 2011 -C'mon-
- Tak reveals that the performance in Tokyo Dome will have its surprises
- A writer called their first live performance a "LIVE-GYM", and they went with it. "GYM" has a physical meaning, of course. Since Koshi is always running around... 😛
- Tak is heading to the gym to get ready for the tour
About LIVE-GYM 2011 -long time no see-
- This tour is different from the Japanese tour
- Tak says they'll play known songs 🙁 (so like LOVE PHANTOM, BAD COMMUNICATION, etc.)
- Koshi is looking forward to the tour as also the audience is different from the one in Japan
- The livestream of the performance in LA is Pepsi's doing. Koshi says "Sasuga Pepsi" XD
- Tak says there will be a lot of people to watch B'z for the first time
Songs that were played on the show (in order)
2) Don't Wanna Lie
3) Sayonara Kizu Darake no Hibi yo
5) ultra soul 2011
Issue no. 393 of the Weekly LALALA, a Japanese free magazine from Los Angeles, features a short article on B'z North American tour including a short interview with Tak and Koshi. It reads like this:
After their North American tours in 2002 and 2003, for the first time in 8 years, B'z is doing a North American tour called "B'z LIVE-GYM 2011 -long time no see-", which will kick off on July 20th in Vancouver. "It's been a long time since we toured in North America, I'm really looking forward to it. At the same time, I want to set the stage so that more people get to know B'z in North America. This time we're going to focus on our Japanese songs that have been released as a single and play songs that will be rocking the house.", says vocalist Koshi Inaba.
In 2007, B'z was the first asian artist to be inducted into the Hollywood Rockwalk. Guitarist Takahiro Matsumoto won the Grammy for "Best Pop Instrumental Album" with his album "TAKE YOUR PICK" which he recorded together with Larry Carlton. Since both of them are regularly in LA to do recording and other things, for them, Los Angeles has become their second hometown. It also looks like they have a lot of friends there who interpret the keyword "music" the same way.
With releasing their 49th single "Don't Wanna Lie", they've immediately topped the Oricon chart, raising the bar once again. B'z, who updated their record of series of no.1 singles to 45 and is going to release their new album "C'mon" on July 27th, doesn't show a sign that their passion for music is fading. It has already been more than 20 years since their major debut. Where does that energy come from, that enables them to continue producing music?
"It's because I love music from the bottom of my heart and when it comes to producing music, because I can always improve myself. More importantly, though, because there are so many people that enjoy our music. Also, I can't imagine a life without music.", answers guitarist Tak Matsumoto.
"I'm happy to be back in North America as B'z. We're going to give it all on stage and I hope everyone will enjoy it." says Koshi Inaba. Tak Matsumoto adds "I'm looking forward to meeting everyone again. I hope you will enjoy our show!"
So... is B'z looking to push into the (North) American market? What do you think?
*UPDATE*: This is an extract from the interview in the Nichi Bei [ http://www.nichibei.org/2011/07/taking-the-world-by-storm-b%E2%80%99z-ready-to-rock/ ] :
NBW: Mr. Matsumoto, you were awarded a Grammy and the band became the first Asian musicians to be inducted into Hollywood’s Rockwalk of Fame. What’s next?
TM: It’s been 8 years since we last played in the U.S. We would like to keep on playing all over the world from now on.
KI: We would like to do more shows and introduce our music to the people in the U.S.
The Vancouver Shinpo, a Japanese newspaper located in Vancouver(Canada), features an interview with Shane Gaalaas in its issue dated June 23rd. It looks like B'z management are really focusing on Japanese fans in general, seeing how the interview was published in a Japanese newspaper... in Japanese. Odon of B'z no bise as well as myself have requested Shane Gaalaas for an interview, but he never got back to us with an answer from B'z management.
In the interview, he's talking about the upcoming North American tour as well as his connection to Canada and Japan. I apologize for any translation mistakes I might have made.
Please tell us about Tak Matsumoto and Koshi Inaba
I haven't met such humble people before. I think their CD sales, ingenuity and skills show pretty much how much work they're putting into their music. But still, they're keeping the balance between being humble and being proud. And it deeply impressed me that they're not egocentric at all, they're working as a team. Matsumoto-san and Inaba-san are like the Sedin brothers (Star players for the Vancouver Canucks). They're supporting each other to become better at what they do.
Please tell us something about the performance in Vancouver
The set list is a secret, but I think everybody who's coming to see the show will enjoy it. There are a lot of great songs, so it's difficult for me to choose my favorite one, but I'll enjoy performing every single song. As a drummer, I'm challenged with playing a lot of different styles. From funky to jazzy.
What's your current goal?
To create good B'z CDs. As a drummer, I want to continually improve my skills. If I have some free time, I'd like to compose some solo songs, too. And I'd like to get better at surfing and ice hockey as well.
What do you think are the charm points of Japan and Canada?
I love spending time in Japan. I especially like Japan's culture, food and people. There's a lot of wonderful places in Japan, and every time I'm there, there's always a new place for me to discover.
I also like Canada's culture. It's pure. The people are relaxed and I think they enjoy their life without being too materialistic. You can really feel it when you're there.
And it's especially a great place in summer.
You're originally from Innisfail, Alberta. What kind of place is it?
I was born in Edison, Alberta and raised in Innisfail. Innisfail is a small, traditional and idyllic community. It's about an hour drive from Calgary. The place has grown a lot. When I was a kid, about 2500 people were living there, but now, about 7000 people live in the city. It was a great place for me to grow up in. The winters have always been hard and long, but we made the best of it and had fun at playing ice hockey and skiing. And when I was 10 years old, making music became my dream. Since there aren't that many opportunities in such a small place compared to big cities, I had to jam with my band members in my personal time. Most of my family still lives in Innisfail, so I'm trying to see them about twice a year.
Are you looking forward to the North American tour?
Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. My friends and family plan to come to the performance in Vancouver.
Before I started living in Los Angeles, I used to live in Vancouver for two and a half years.
I remember I was very surprised how open Vancouver's society is. There are a lot of delicious restaurants and I got to meet a lot of wonderful people. I think Canadians are the most friendly people in the world. If I have some time during the tour, I'd love to show my friends the great places in Vancouver.
Do you watch NHL?
Of course!! I'm Canadian, after all!! I probably started playing ice hockey at the same time. Even now, I sometimes go to the skating rink near my house and play hockey.
I support the Calgary Flames as well as the Vancouver Canucks.
When you showed me your CV, I admired all the things you've achieved in your life. Your skills and passion are a given, but what makes you different from other people?
Thank you. I'm thankful that I can lead my life as a musician. I'm not exactly sure how that makes me different from other people, but I think I've always had the strength to set new goals and pursue them until I've achieved what I wanted. I wanted to do music. I think when people manage to put their energy and passion into something, they'll be able to achieve what they desire. This might be a common way of saying it, but whatever difficulties you might experience, you should always pursue the things you like doing. There might be a lot of difficulties, but you should turn these hurdles into good experiences. And you should have fun at doing that.
With AKB48 having strong sales these days, B'z fans in Japan are concerned whether B'z will be able to keep up their series of consecutive number one singles, or not. AKB48 has recently released their new single "Everyday, kachuusha", selling 942,475 copies of their single on the day before the official release.
This does sound fishy, right? How could AKB48 sell so many singles in one day? So I did some digging ... look what I found on a Japanese blog:
There are in fact people buying a LOT of copies of the very same single. Looks like there's a lot of Japanese Otaku who are buying 2200 copies of the single to show AKB48 how much they worship and love them. (see the picture below)
But will AKB48 be able to keep up the strong sales? Their daily sales have dropped to a "low" 54,000 per day, but it is no doubt that AKB48 will get the #1 spot in the weekly single chart this wednesday. However, with AKB48's sales dropping per day, I don't see any indication that B'z will not get the #1 spot on the day before the release of their new single "Don't Wanna Lie". But will B'z also be able to get the #1 spot on the weekly chart? Only time will tell.
Remember Rima Fujita? I introduced her a few posts ago. She drew an artistic portrait of Tak Matsumoto which was a present for Tak Matsumoto because he won the Grammy. Well, she has recently updated her blog about an art exhibition. And apparently Koshi Inaba happened to be in LA and attended her art exhibition. He also bought one of her pieces!
She writes on her blog:
[...] my long-time friend, Koshi Inaba who is one of the top rock stars in Japan happened to be in LA, and went to my exhibition... and purchased a piece of the snow leopard babies. Not only he is one of the biggest collectors of my work he's been a strong supporter of my work and a dear friend.[...]
Check out her blog post here: http://rimafujita.blogspot.com/2011/05/koshi-came-to-my-exhibition-in-bevelry.html
I found this a few days ago while browsing a few B'z related websites. Rima Fujita, a full-time artist living in San Diego, posted this on her blog:
After many years I've begun having this urge to paint portraits again, and when I was thinking about doing a portrait series once more I got a commission offer to do a portrait of Tak Matsumoto, the guitar player of the Japan's renowned rock duo, B'z, by a good friend of mine who wanted to give it to Tak as a gift. Tak had just won the Grammy award this year. "How timely," I thought. I was thrilled to do his portrait, yet the last time I met Tak in person was over 10 years ago. Normally I don't like to use photographs to paint portraits. So I really had to depend on my imagination!
If you'd like to check out her drawing of Tak Matsumoto and what else she had to say about her encounter with Tak Matsumoto, check her blog right here: http://rimafujita.blogspot.com/2011/04/portrait-series.html
B'z is at it again. One day before the official release, 50,335 copies of B'z new single Sayonara Kizu Darake no Hibi yo were sold across Japan, topping the Oricon daily single chart for the 44th time in a row. They continue to release #1 hit singles one after another, which is probably also because of the huge fanbase that B'z has in Japan. But honestly, they deserve it, right? The new single just ROCKS!!
We are now waiting for the sales data from today, which will be posted on Oricon tomorrow. Sales are expected to go up to more than 100,000 sold copies total. Will this be another platinum single for B'z?