How much do we foreigners underrate, or overrate how popular bands are in Japan?

I saw some people discussing it in other topics, which led me to make this.

Mucc as an example has been going on for 25 years and still play at pretty small venues. Are they popular? Well I guess 10k monthly listeners on spotify is an achievement, how many of them are japanese or foreign? DeG has 14k monthly and are, while some may not agree to this - considered to be the most popular japanese rock/VK band by foreigners, or even the best one of them all/most iconic. Bands that have done intros to popular animes, once or many times, are in general permanently popular. Nightmare and Sid are two that I come up with right away. Look at their monthly listeners, many more than DeG. Now it might sound like im dissing Mucc and DeG’s effort throughout the years because I am not, they are two of my favorites. Its just a niche genre I guess but at the same time, especially Mucc is releasing pretty easy-tolisten-to catchy stuff that could be popular by the big masses. I think most people would agree that its better than recent Nightmare and Sid stuff. Did they miss out on that mega boost moment? Has time run away from them. or are they maybe exactly where they want to be today (private life time and earnings)?

What do you guys actually think about this? How popular are actually these bands we discuss in here, in actually Japan? Deviloof was said to be the next new big thing and got a big boost by appearing on that super popular Ariyoshi show, and made fun of themselves. But is 7,8k monthly listeners good for that? Or is it just that most “normal people” arent into brOOootal stuff? Or is it actually insane numbers considering how short they have been active? Almost same as Mucc who is on their 25th year now, which I personally don’t think they deserve especially after that last major debut single…

I read ZigZag is doing budoukan which is about 10,000 tickets. How impressive is this? I guess its hell’a impressive since most new vk bands seem to disband after a month or so.

Take a band like Nogod which I am a big fan of. Most of you guys maybe arent fans, but you know about the name - while in Japan no one seems to care about them anymore, or Dancho. We will see how their new album does now but that side project he released a few months ago has around 1500 listenings per song on spotify. I hope its unique listenings because if not I feel bad for them… :roll_eyes:

I just found it interesting to think about - that while we foreigners remember the bands from the VK-JROCK peak around the early 2000s (DeG performing at festivals in germany and stuff), people in Japan seem to be forgetting about them. At least many, way too many. Soon it wouldn’t surprise me if I am the last person in Japan (currently here for work), who listens to BiS (believe in style) from time to time :worried:

What is your take on this?

(Fixing grammar so please forgive me for some edits)

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Great that you bought up Dir en grey cos I always thought of them as the biggest VK band currently and yet, looking at eplus, they have yet to sell out any of their upcoming gigs (now open to the public, not ballot phrase), even the ones in Tokyo, which came as a shock to me.

凛として時雨’s gigs too, whereas 女王蜂 managed to sell out their Tokyo gigs held in the same concert venue as Dir en grey.

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Yes good one there, it blows my mind to see it like this. Shows in about a week aren’t sold out. Can’t blame on covid anymore either… :face_with_spiral_eyes:

Mucc hasn’t sold out this one yet either that is their “final” of the current tour, in the middle of Tokyo… in 3 days. Damn thats brutal.

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I’m not sure who said that? they’re doing well enough for a VK band to be picked up by a legacy major label, which potentially opens new doors for them down the line, but nothing, except for vocalist dropping makeup 2 PVs into a major era, says things are about to get exponentially better. countless major bands lose fanbase, miyavi’s biggest live gig attendance-wise was his last indies concert in like 2005.

I don’t see a lot of future growth for mucc, their music is play-it-safe and mediocre, and there’re simply more western bands who would do same sound better, and without tatsurou’s horrible catterwauling; nightmare are in a questionable place because yomi went on a vocal treatment break, but otherwise they seem to be doing well enough.
mucc lucked out since iirc they got out of their contract with universal and got signed by sony; at least, there will be some coin to promote them and give them last chances for a while now. I personally didn’t care for that band since the major style change they did with gerbera.

I mean… no that’s not true? BIS drummer is in Blu-BiLLioN, who are doing more or less on the same level popularity-wise, they just don’t tour abroad anymore.

for a 4 piece band from 2004 with 1 dead member and 1 retired one, the two other ones are quite active.

if you want to hang around with people who were into lighter stuff released by free-will at that time, Kei just released something, and he’s on a major level - if you go to lives or hang out on twitter to meet other fans, that would be probably the entry point for you.

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Not even △ 残りわずか (few tickets left) but ○ 空席あり (alot of tickets available) for the Mucc gig you listed. Same for all the DEG gigs.

Did a bit of digging for Dir en grey; after ‘The Insulated World -The Screams of Alienation’ that was supposed to be held in Pia Arena MM (capacity of 10k) in Jul 2020 was cancelled due to you-know-what, there was no replacement. The biggest venue afterwards was 疎外 in Tokyo Garden Theater (capacity of 8k) in Jun 2021 and that was with social distancing in place.

I remembered reading that Gazette’s 2010 Tokyo Dome gig had poor attendance by an attendee but I can’t find the post.

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Before i say my tea, i just want to clarify, you are using the k thing wrong, from everything i know
that K stays for 1.000, a thousand
so DEG have not 14K but 140K montly listeners

i just want to clarify, because otherwise it will cause confusion

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Sorry thanks!

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I think the problem of MUCC and Dir en grey recently is that they’re playing A LOT of live shows, especially in the Tokyo area

And, at least for MUCC, since they are “thematic” tours…maybe current local fans are not that much into those old albums or have already seen many of the original tours.

Tickets getting more and more expensive, many relaeases and a tour circuit that is not that wide/must repeat regularly many venues could explain this.

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For vkei, at least, I would say we are generally terrible at estimating how popular bands are because the #1 measure of success in vkei (from my unprofessional experience) is concert attendance. If your gya aren’t mobilizing, you ain’t shit. If you aren’t selling out bigger venues, it doesn’t matter how many Spotify listeners or Youtube views you have. The shows and merch are your bread and butter. Since we have no way to know what that’s like unless we can find up-to-date concert pics and info from attendees, we really can’t know.

The amount of dedicated mobilized gya is the real measure of “success”. Social media is also a terrible barometer because a lot of bands that have extensive social media/internet presence may have come and gone, and while they have internet fans that comment and drop by, they don’t have young blood throwing money at them anymore.

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You can’t base the popularity of a Japanese band, especially visual Kei off of Spotify listens since Japan is still a very analog country when it comes to music. People still like to buy physical or rent physical cds or buy the music digitally, streaming is still not very popular.

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I would say that the young generation has caught up pretty well with streaming. tbh

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I would think a band like ONE OK ROCK to be the one of the biggest currently. They constantly tour oversees to mostly sold out shows. Recently did their first overseas stadium tour opening for Muse i think. And they still constantly play at giant stadiums in Japan.

So i think it mostly depends on the type of music since more people will find listening to something as catchy and cheesy as OOK easier than DIR EN GREY’s “GRRRR! -chug-chug-chug- *insert same Shinya beat here.”

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I wouldn’t take spotify too seriously judging by:

Gackt: 138 k monthly listeners VS Golden Bomber: 107.1 k VS dexcore 29.9k VS deviloof 79.9k VS Kaya, a slept on local act dancing to a boombox for most of his concerts - 21.89k - all with no way to see regional breakdown

Luna Sea, the biggest active VK band, is at 116,9k, and I do not doubt those are largely asian streaming numbers.

Sting and the police sold out tokyo dome for 2 nights in 2008, judging by what google has more or less available, but the most packed dome event was a wrestling match in 1993 that had attendance of 63,5k; a lot of sports events over there don’t sell more than 30 - 35k tickets, so in that aspect, SuG or The Gazette even performing is quite a feat (I remember a cunty tumblr post claiming gazette performed to a barely filled venue which the camera crew downplayed when filming, but I can’t really find it now.)

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Streaming is steadily growing its share of the overall Japanese music market. In 2021, according to the IFPI’s trade-value figures, streaming accounted for 28.6% of overall recorded music revenues in Japan, although CD sales were still 40.8%.

So…not enough for it to matter. Japan are also weird since the biggest streaming platform for music in Japan is actually Amazon Music.

When you’re on desktop you can the at least the 5 major cities where artists gets listened to

Gackt:
Tokyo, JP
14.719 Hörerinnen
Umeda, JP
3.889 Hörer
innen
Santiago, CL
3.289 Hörerinnen
Chiyoda-ku, JP
2.836 Hörer
innen
Osaka, JP
1.896 Hörer*innen

Golden Bomber:
Tokyo, JP
22.866 Hörerinnen
Umeda, JP
6.342 Hörer
innen
Chiyoda-ku, JP
4.387 Hörerinnen
Osaka, JP
2.875 Hörer
inner
Otemae, JP
2.734 Hörer*innen

Dexcore:
Tokyo, JP
842 Hörerinnen
London, GB
505 Hörer
innen
Chicago, US
362 Hörerinnen
Dallas, US
353 Hörer
innen
Los Angeles, US
329 Hörer*innen

Deviloof:
Santiago, CL
1.386 Hörerinnen
London, GB
933 Hörer
innen
Los Angeles, US
844 Hörerinnen
Mexico City, MX
824 Hörer
innen
Helsinki, FI
805 Hörer*innen

Kaya:
Santiago, CL
500 Hörerinnen
Los Angeles, US
383 Hörer
innen
Warsaw, PL
319 Hörerinnen
Istanbul, TR
313 Hörer
innen
Helsinki, FI
254 Hörer*innen

Do with the numbers what you want… i suppose

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From my years of experiencing the scene from afar, one thing I’ve learnt is that ‘we’ (i.e. the majority of us who do not live in Japan and mostly only have an online viewpoint) tend to magnify everything thousands-fold in terms of what band might be actually considered ‘popular’ in Japan, just because of shared enthusiasm / hype in our little online bubbles. I’m speaking of visual kei or VK-related Jrock specifically here.

In other words: basically just like everywhere in the world, the most normie-sounding lukewarm common-denominator music will tend to be the most popular. Artists with more extreme sounds and looks are probably happy to almost fill a small-to-mid-size venue at best imo (but this might’ve changed over the years, I’m not too much in the loop with these newer 'core-kei bands). Even if those are the exact artists a lot of us constantly talk about and praise. Like, in my first few years of fandom I’d met countless fans of Vidoll, Merry or deadman, but never met anyone claiming to be a SID fan. In Japan this would have probably been the exact opposite (at a certain point in time).

Anway, idk where I was going with this, I’m just rambling, heh. :sweat_smile:

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Most of what I would say has already been reflected in the comments, but another angle that I’d like to mention is the discrepancy between music video production (and intricate costumes/makeup) and popularity. To the uninitiated foreigner, even the dinkiest of visual kei bands have pretty solid MVs which might give the illusion of heightened popularity. I guess where that falls apart is when you check the actual number of views and engagement on other platforms (including streaming metrics.)

This is probably not relevant anymore since self-produced music videos are pretty good nowadays.

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I’m just going to pop in here to correct the original post: ZigZag already played Budokan last year in November, which sold out and the Bluray of it is coming out next month. The concert was streamed already on TV.
They’re active since 2016 actually, so it’s not a new band by any means and they had a very curious luck of becoming popular basically over the pandemic. Yes, it might be thanks to Mikoto becoming Wands’ vocalist and gaining a lot of attention but there are still more new people I see that discover them on their own without this perception.
Last year’s tour was already in venues of bigger capacity, simply because the ticket demand was too high. This year they’re doing a hall tour which has venues of about 4k capacity and more and the tour final is in Tokyo Garden Theatre, which is around 8k, and bands like Luna Sea or DEG play this venue.
And just to compare, the Wands tour in Sep will be in smaller venues like Zepp.
In Japan, Mikoto is regarded as a miracle vocalist that can sing any style of music. He even manages to pull off opera just because he likes it. They’re moving forward fast now and gaining even more recognition.

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MUCC not selling out on May 6th kind of bodes well for me, hoping to get tickets to the next show on June 9th.

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