Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cool & Strange Music Countdown June 20, 2017! Pinksideofthemoon, Japanese Led Zeppelin, Miami Dade County Police!

Welcome back to another episode of Cool & Strange Music for June 20, 2017!



Once again, it's time for our monthly dose of Cool & Strange Music.

Today I have a real variety of stuff for you... From Japan to the Super-Cool and the outright bizarre.

First up, let is take a trip to Japan and I do mean, "trip." The first song today was arranged by NHK. NHK is Japan's government run national TV station. I doubt I've had much good to say about them in the past (I don't know why the government taxes us to run a TV station - is this North Korea?)... NHK (like all TV) is bleeding audience, especially younger people. So they seem to have propped up a new company called "NHK Blends" whereby they take some of those tax monies and spend it on new projects. NHK Blends is described as: "A musical mix: East meets West." OK? Well, I do think the NHK Blends Youtube site is kinda cool.... Check it out. (NHK Blends Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUpWgbZCNH1bi7Zec_7tfNQ)

#3) Japanese Cover-Nijugen-Koto - Led Zeppelin-Stairway to Heaven:
https://youtu.be/nZPnt4tKGdU?t=1m (Song starts at the 1 minute mark.)


It's called, "Cool & Strange Music" for a good reason; some of the songs are really cool, like the Led Zeppelin cover above, and others... Well, there's "Strange" and then there's "WTF? Strange." The next song falls into the latter category. This is one of those, "Is this for real?" This time it's the Miami Dade Country Police Department wasting your tax monies on this video.

WARNING! Once you've clicked on the link below, you can never un-see what you have seen.

#2) Miami Dade Country Police Department - Sex Offender Shuffle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfCYZ3pks48



Oh, my god!!!! If you were able to watch that entire video above, then give yourself 100 points and go ahead, go take a shower now... We'll wait.

Finally, at #1 is Pinksideofthemoon featuring Lee Popa and Jolee. Their description of this video says, "Weather permitting, skygazers in America and Europe are in for a treat in the early morning hours of Tuesday, when the first total lunar eclipse in almost three years is poised to turn the moon pink   it was the first night of us recording music together we were watching a lunar eclipse and for a split second the moon turned a bright pink we had no choice we became the pinksideofthemoon." Check out their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/Pinksideofthemoon-110587222355798/

#1) pinksideofthemoon - Lost Inspace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKtEKvIgHtw


Well, that’s it for today! Hope you have a great rest of the week and hope you stay Cool and Strange!
See more Cool & Strange Music countdowns here: 
http://robot55.jp/?s=cool+%26+strange+music

And if you like new music and alternative artists check out the weekly Top 3 here:
http://robot55.jp/?s=Top+3+videos

Monday, June 19, 2017

Why Independent Artists From USA, UK and the West, Cannot Get a Recording Deal in Japan


Again, recently, I've had several people writing to me telling me to introduce them to a Japanese record label because they are "absolutely sure" they can break big in Japan. So I'm going to go over this subject again....

But before I go into why you, independent artist in the west, will probably never get a contract with a Japanese label (until you have a contract with a western record label first - and why bother? You can become big without either label because of the internet)... Let me give you some reality about Japan. From Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Other Western Artists are Minor in Japan 

This column is about Japanese Rock stars versus Western Rock Stars in Japan... The premise is that, in spite of the hype and hoopla in the western press, USA and UK artists have seriously fallen out of their position of "Most Favored" in Japan (and China and elsewhere in Asia). That's what this post is about.

But, over these last fifteen years, sales of albums from US and UK artists, and in turn their popularity, have dropped off a cliff. Western artists are just not the draw or as popular as they were a few decades ago. 

The last big western artist who could come to Japan and quickly sell out a few nights at Tokyo Dome was Michael Jackson at the height of his popularity in the early nineties. 

But that was a long time ago. Very few western artists can come to Japan anymore and sell out the dome even for one night. Most today don't even try. Coldplay certainly couldn't do it. 

In fact, I don't think there are any bands in the entire world (excepting, perhaps a Rolling Stones reunion) that could sell out a few days at Tokyo Dome these days. Aerosmith is playing there next week, for one night, but they are having a hard time selling tickets and will be lucky to sell out the arena seats on the first floor.

Read more here: http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.jp/2011/11/lady-gaga-coldplay-and-other-western.html


-----------------

In the last month, I've had three different artists' managers and agents from the USA, Ireland and Britain ask me for help in getting them a release deal or a music publishing deal in Japan. These people ask me because I play a lot of new and independent music on the FM radio. Perhaps they also know I used to run one of Japan's most successful Indies labels (in the late 80s & early 90s) and I have been involved with alternative music and the promotion of that kind of music since the late 70s.




Today, I'd like to write a short post about why it is next to impossible for an unsigned independent artist in the west to get a record or publishing deal in Japan in the year 2017. I do this to help people and I do this to help myself because I've written this explanation more times than I care to and don't want to do it anymore. 

This example though, I'm sure, is not just limited to the music industry. I think this example is a microcosm for all industries across the board in Japan when it comes to subsidiaries and licensing product across international boundaries.

Let me give you specifics.

I can think of three artists that I really like and have been playing on our weekly FM radio show. (I guess I shouldn't name them. You can see our playlist here: https://www.interfm.co.jp/wtf/)

Because of this support and these efforts to bring new music to Japan, I have earned the reputation for being the guy who finds these new artists and plays them years before they break even in the west. May I pat myself on the back? Recent examples were Amy Winehouse who we began playing heavily in 2006, a full two years before she she broke big, Guns & Roses, Rancid, and a bunch of others I can't recall now. I was the first one to play these artists in Japan years before they got popular even in the west. Over the years there were dozens. 

Like I said, this is an example, a microcosm, of how other businesses in Japan work also. If there is a parent company and a subsidiary involved you can be sure that politics play a big part in all decisions that are made... This point is obvious but many artists fail to grasp this.

In the past, I have also introduced independent artists to Japanese record labels and music publishers and have gotten them contracts. But that was well before the year 2000. Japanese labels and music publishers today are not interested in signing new western acts for the Japanese market and here's why...

Let's take the example of a world-wide label like Warner music. Warner in the USA releases hundreds of albums annually. Of those hundreds of albums, only a handful get released in Japan. It is unclear how the process for deciding which artists' albums get released in Japan is made. Ostensibly, it would be a decision founded on which artists' album the local label people believe would be most popular and sell the best, but I would be a fool to tell you that is exactly how it is done. I have been in Japan long enough to know that politics and favors are quite important in the decision room. I know that sometimes the good of the company is sacrificed in order to placate some employees' desires and wishes. 

I have witnessed, more than five times in my life, adult Japanese men over 40-years-old of age, actually crying or pouting like little children at business meetings because they didn't get their way. I've seen this in the last month, actually! Grown men crying like children! It was astounding. 

So remember that, perhaps, sometimes an album is released just because Mr. Tanaka is a fan of that artist even though the rest of the staff don't feel that it will sell well... And when it doesn't sell well? Does Mr. Tanaka suffer any penalty? Not immediately and perhaps never. In a few years he might be transferred to another section.

Ever heard of the Peter Principle? If you haven't you should. The Peter Principle says that, "In a hierarchy, every employee will rise to their highest level of incompetence." That, in a nutshell is one of the biggest reasons I can see why business is bad in today's Japan.

But I digress.

The western arm of the label releases hundreds of artists a year. In Japan, only a few of those are released. Politics play a big part. Now, when hundreds are not released, what would happen if the Japanese side arbitrarily picked up an artist from, say, London who wasn't signed to the sister or parent label and released that artist in Japan? Well, you can bet that the sister or parent company would soon find out about it and they would be very pissed off. It would become a major political problem for the western label (destroy their credibility in the local market) and it would then become a major political problem for the Japanese side too.

The western arm of the label would say (of course), "Hey! We have all these other artists that we released. Why don't you release one of those? Why don't you help us promote our artists?" A big row would ensue. And people would be angry and relationships frayed or destroyed.

The Japanese, not being ones to want to make trouble, would rather decline unilaterally signing an artist from the west - one that, by the way, doesn't even have management that the Japanese side has a relation with - so if there is trouble, they have no one to blame. 

The Japanese just won't do it.

In the west, you have the Billboard charts. In Japan, we have the Oricon charts. They are both corrupted by payola but they are what we use. To see the most recent Oricon charts, we have to subscribe and pay money. There's no way I'm going to pay money for that so here's the most recent Oricon Chart Top 30 chart that we can see for free. It's from Nov. 11, 2011. See if you recognize any names on the Top 30:



See any Adele? Lady Gaga? Katy Perry or Flo Rida? No? Neither do I and you will rarely, if ever, see them on any Japanese charts. Like I said, sales of western artists have dropped off a cliff in Japan. 

There won't be any recovery of those sales anytime soon, either.

Understanding these things, then you can see why your band, unsigned in the west, has a basically zero chance of getting signed here in Japan. I hate to break this news to you good folks and great musicians but it is what it is. Don't take it personally at all if a Japanese label or publisher doesn't answer your inquiries about your music. It's not about the music anymore.

Imagine if there were a time slip and your band were the Beatles, as yet undiscovered in 2017 and unsigned to a label in the west, there's no way a major Japanese label will sign you for release in Japan. It has nothing to do with your music and your talent and gift; it has everything to do with intra-company politics.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, if they were 18 years old today, would have a major problem. 

And that's why the major music industry is dying.

Good riddance?

NOTES: Interestingly, there are some indies bands in the west who do get signed in Japan to some really cool indies labels.... One good example are the Baby Shakes from New York. They got a licensing deal and I heard they have recorded songs here in Japan... How did they do that?

Baby Shakes - Do What You Want https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xF6Yl8RAqc



The Baby Shakes got signed to an indies label run called "Base" that is run by a really nice guy named Toshio. (BASE: http://recordshopbase.com/) Base is cool. I gather Toshio does what he does because it is a labor of love. 

Another cool label is Vinyl Junkie: http://vinyl-junkie.com/label/ (Vinyl Junkie might license your album, but not if it has already been released overseas... I have never heard of them doing anything but licensing.)

If you write to these good folks, you can tell them you read about them on my blog.... I don't know if that'll be any help, though!


- BIG THANKS TO ALEX KISH!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rock and Pop Musicians! Please Make Two and a Half Minute Songs!


Everyone knows that the attention spans of people are getting shorter yet rock musicians (people who are appealing to those with the shortest attention spans of all), keep making songs that are getting longer.

I don't get it.

According to the website: Attention Span Statistics data

"The average attention span in 2000, 12 seconds. The average attention span in 2012, 8 seconds. "

Yet, people keep making pop and rock songs longer and longer! Ever since "Let it Be" by the Beatles and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, which BOTH were six minutes long, pop and rock musicians keep making songs over four, even five minutes! Is this counter-intuitive? Or just plain, well, "Not smart"?


No. This is NOT what I want!

I think it's not very smart. Let me tell you why...

I program and select all the music for a very popular morning drive-time program in Tokyo. Our service area covers 35 million homes, so it's huge. I know that many people like me (I've asked) have agreed that the "perfect pop/rock song" is 2.5 minutes long (or thereabouts). Three minutes? Well, okay... Three and a half minutes? You're pushing it. Over 3:30? Hmmm, it had better be as good as the Rolling Stones, "Jumping Jack Flash" (which, I didn't look, but I believe is 3:48!) Still, with that, I will probably cut the last 30 seconds. Over 4 minutes? That's starting to get really difficult to use. Over 4:30 or 5? No thanks... Send me a radio-friendly version, will ya?

(By the way, if I must be going to a commercial in, say, 1:40 from now, and I have to cover the time, will I play the 2:30 song and cut 50 seconds, or am I going to play the 5 minute song that has a 48 second intro? Easy call, isn't it?)

Yet musicians keep sending us their new singles and the songs are all over four or five minutes. I hate it!

Why?

OK. It's simple. Did you know that there are ten times more listeners at 7 am than there are at 7 pm (due to people driving in the morning)? Let me repeat that: Did you know that there are ten times more listeners at 7 am than there are at 7 pm (due to people driving in the morning)? And the number of listeners rapidly declines after the morning driving time ends (in Japan, after 8:30 am). So that's why you want your song on before 8:30 am; there's many more potential listeners for your tunes if they are on early. 

Did you also know (at least in Japan's case) that the average listener listens to FM radio for only twenty minutes at a time? That's right.

Now, morning shows (the ones with, by far, the highest ratings) need a quick tempo and a fast pace. We don't have time to screw around. We have to get lots of information, news, weather, sports, traffic, commercials and music shoved into the shortest time span possible. That means we play lots of short songs in the mornings (when, as I mentioned, the ratings are highest)... That means we (well, I won't) play any songs at all that push the 3:30+ mark (or I just lop off a few minutes - do you want that?) 

I greatly prefer short songs. (See my show webpage and song list here: http://www.interfm.co.jp/wtf/... Scroll down. You can see that nearly all songs before 8:30 am - peak drive time - are under 2:45!)

If you send me a 2:30 song, then I will greatly consider that for airplay during the peak times... But, if you send me a 5 minute song? Yeah, later on in the show... Or never. Long songs are difficult to use.

Of course, I'm talking about the fun shows that are on in the mornings (did I say the ratings = more listeners - were higher at that time? I did? Thanks.)

That means, in my case, I will play short, up-tempo songs like early Beatles, Stones, Ramones at peak times to get the listeners pumped-up and ready to go in the mornings. We don't do easy listening...

It used to be that, long ago, songs were always under 3 minutes. What happened? I don't know. But this "long song" business is foolish. 

It's simple; if you want your songs played when there are the most listeners, then make them short. If you can't say it in 2.5 minutes, then you need to work on it.

Of course, there is a time and place for longer songs.... But generally not on the highly rated morning shows... I'm trying to wake people up in the morning and cram in as much as I can in the shortest space I can... But, then again, maybe people don't care about radio anymore... OK. I can understand that too.

But, knowing this, and if you DO want radio airplay, why would you want to make long songs?

Your call.

"Brevity is the soul of wit." - Lord Polonius from Shakespeare's Hamlet 1602

NOTE: Oh, and PS: If you are a new musician, then make sure you "Like" the FB pages of the radio programs you are (or want to) promote to. Our FB page is here: http://www.interfm.co.jp/wtf/

NOTE TWO: THE PERFECT SONG? I don't know but it's a great example of what I'm talking about. Within the first 30 seconds, you hear the intro, verse, chorus and hook... If this isn't perfect, then it's damned close: The Beatles - Paperback Writer (if link doesn't work, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmVwo2DxkGg)




Here's another one (You can argue with me but you can't argue with the success of the Beatles!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyclqo_AV2M



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Winning at Raffles, Bingo and Winning at Life Are the Same! Here's 5 Simple Tips on How to Win at All of Them!


(This post originally ran in July 2013.)

Once again, yesterday my son won the Top Grand Prizes at a Raffle contest at one of the big international schools here in Tokyo. The prize was a trip for two, all expenses paid, to New York, New York, or another destination of our choice.


My son with his grand prize certificate. Actually, besides the Top Prize, we also won two of the other Top 50 prizes. Count that in with a day outside helping friends and volunteering to make this world a better place, it was a day of constant winning! (Look at that smile! Any child who is that happy all the time has just got to win, right?)

It is about the fourteenth time he has won one of the big prizes at a raffle or bingo in the last four years. We always win. We have come to expect to win. In fact, if we don't win (at least a trinket), it has come to seem strange to me. 


Mar. 2011: Wins 11 games in four years. Grand Prize three times. Not a bad winning 
percentage. You really can do that too! 

Winning at raffles, bingo and winning at life are very, almost eerily, similar and I'd like to talk to you about that today. I think, if there is anything that I have been a massive success in my life at is that is being able to convince my children that they will "win." I have shown them that the way to "win" is by first believing that you will win and that you are a "winner.". I have even convinced - may I suggest that I brainwashed - my third daughter into believing that she would conquer "incurable" forth stage cancer. 

I do not mean here that you can believe yourself into winning a game of chance like a lottery or the raffle; I mean you can become a winner simply by changing your attitude and better understand of what it means to "win."

But before I go into theory and philosophy more, allow me to continue (brag like a looney) by telling you about the past and our "luck" and wins in all sorts of games and winning at bingo.

Two years ago, we won the very top prize of a vacation to Okinawa that included hotel and airfare. Yesterday, he won the trip to New York. In February  of this year, he won a gift certificate worth several hundred dollars at a very famous store in Tokyo. Last year, he won five times out of a total of 12 games or so in one tournament. Think about that; there are seven hundred people all competing at bingo trying to win the prize. To win once is enough to bring wide smiles and cheers to anybody's face. But he won five games in one night! That must be a record. Every time my son won, people were astounded. By the forth time he won, everyone was clapping for him. By the fifth time, people were verbally shouting, "That's incredible!" "I've never heard of such a thing."

The lady sitting next to us at our table last night has worked for the organization that ran last night's bingo for thirty years. She told me that she had been coming to this event twice a year, every year, and she and her husband had never won even once!

One of my son's former teachers knows my son won at bingo again and she wrote him this note by email:

"Congratulations! I just can't believe you did it again and I'm so happy for you. I believe you went to Bingo with a purpose in mind and had your heart set on the Grand Prize.

We can all learn a lot from you."


She wrote, "We can all learn a lot from you." Indeed. We can. My son's former teacher is very much a woman who understands a positive mental attitude and what that can do for a self-fullfilling prophesy.

Now, if you've ever played bingo, then you know that winning any prize is very difficult. People play all their lives and never win a Grand Prize. But winning it several times is almost unheard of. Last night, there were probably about seven hundred people playing and yet he won. It's always that way; seven hundred to one-thousand people playing and we always win. 

But, even before my son was born, I was lucky at winning these things. My wife too. And, don't think it is just luck. There is something to be said for a positive mental attitude or, may I go on a limb here? ESP.

My family and I have won at least a dozen grand prizes and at least seven free vacations to places all around the world.

But this is not a blog to brag to you about how lucky I am or we are. It is a blog to tell you how you can become this way. It's a not blog post to tell you how you can start winning Bingo. But, believe it or not, folks, winning at bingo and winning at life are EXACTLY the same thing. 

Winning is easy! It is easy, actually... Well, let me say that it should be easy... But people need to understand what "Winning" actually is. For most people, with a confused idea as to the definition of "Winning," it's "easier said than done." And you know why? Because most people are so negative and defeatist all the time. People are their own worst enemy. 

Think back to your school days. Think back to that guy or girl you remember that you envied. You thought they had everything didn't you? They always won. They were the best looking, they had the nicest car; they were popular, they always won at everything. They became class king or class queen. They had the coolest parents, the most beautiful girlfriend or boyfriend. They were truly lucky. You wanted to be like them.* 


My high school class king & queen. I thought they looked like movie stars!

Well, I hate sounding like a salesman, because I'm not selling you anything, but I'm here to tell you right now you can become one of those lucky people... Read on.

There are two really important things that you need to understand about becoming one of these lucky people. One is understanding what exactly it is that we are doing and its purpose in our life; and the second part is how these things affect your entire belief system. These two go hand in hand. 

The first part about understanding what it is that we are doing is, perhaps, the most important part. Today, we're using bingo as an example, so let's go with that. Think about this; is winning at bingo the best part of going to bingo? Is winning everything? I don't think so.

At bingo, I meet friends and other parents and always smile and shake their hands and say, "Hi!" We are all at bingo so, of course, the subject quickly turns to bingo. I always try to be extremely positive and say, "I always win!" They laugh. They don't believe me (the ones who knows us well don't laugh). Invariably, they all say the same thing,

"I never win." 

They say this with a voice of exasperation and defeat. Poor folks. They are totally and completely missing the point. They are really missing the boat in the bad lesson that they are unknowingly teaching their children subconsciously. Get this: I suggest to you that they are teaching their children defeatism and a losing attitude. 

I can imagine this family in my head; after "losing" at bingo (I mean, they don't win a "prize"), they hop in the car and go home. Dad and mom and kids are sad because they "didn't win." When they get into the house, dad takes off his coat and gives out a very loud sigh. "We lost again!" He says.

Is that any way to teach your children how to win? Is that anyway to teach your children how to be positive?  

Here is what I always tell my son before we play bingo;

"Remember the best part of bingo is not in the winning of trinkets or prizes, it is in the doing. Just being able to be here playing bingo with friends and family is winning. That is the "win." This is fun and it is a wonderfully exciting time we spend together. Just by being here together, we have already won. So smile and let's have fun!" 

It is. Playing bingo with my wife and son is a great memory and it is so very much fun. 

I tell my son this because I want him to be a winner. I want him to understand what "being a winner" truly is. This sort of thinking, this positive attitude, actually, I learned from an old Zen Buddhist saying,

"The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Can you understand this concept? The joy is in the action, not the result. Get it? I think people who truly love to paint or fish or golf, etc., can understand this. For the painter, a beautiful work is nice, but the true value and joy is not the finished painting, it is in the action of painting. For the fisherman, of course catching a fish is fun, but the true joy is standing there alone in front of nature and contemplating life - the joy is in the doing; for the golfer, the winning score is interesting, but soon forgotten; the real joy is in the day and the time considering the play. For all of them, the real value is in the action, not in the result. 

This is what is meant by, "The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Now, do you understand why, whether or not my son wins a big prize (a trinket), he knows, he believes and knows in his heart that he is a true winner? Can anyone deny that, regardless of prize, that we won merely by being able to go and play together and enjoy this moment together on our short time on this earth? 

Some people will scoff at this (they have a losing attitude). But let me ask you to consider this question: There are two children. They both have to go to school. One wakes up in the morning and says, "I don't want to go to school. School is no fun." The other wakes up and says, "I want to go to school. School is fun." Which kid gets good grades at school? Which kid becomes successful at school? Which kid is positive, is popular, gets the best girlfriend or boyfriend and becomes class king or class queen? And is considered a "Winner"

Simple, isn't it? It is the old chicken and the egg problem. Which came first? The kid liking school or the positive attitude? Which came first? Hating school or the negative attitude? And how did these children get these attitudes?

How do these attitudes affect our belief system? How can we change these attitudes? And, if we have children, how can we stop teaching them bad attitudes and start teaching them beneficial ones?

I think it is obvious how these attitudes affect our belief system. In the example above, do you want to be like the father above who comes home exasperated and continually expressed doubt and a defeatist attitude to himself or his children, or, do you want to be the person who understands that the joy is in the action and not the result?

Think about that: The family who thinks they "lost;" They just spent a wonderful time together, probably a rare time together, and they are so focused on winning some "stuff," (usually junk) that they fail to see the true value of what they have just done and they fail to see that just by being alive and being together that they've won the greatest prize of all!

I see this with people I meet everyday. They are worried about their job and the economy. They fear for the future. Almost everyone I see is this way nowadays.

But consider this, my friends; you are still here. I would wager a donut that you have had these fears and worries on and off for the last 5 to 10 years; "Will I have a job?" "What am I going to do?" "How will I survive?" With all of these worries what you are actually saying is, "How can I win?" Or, perhaps, "I never win."

Guess what? Thinking like that you probably won't ever win at bingo, and I'll bet that, even if you are winning, with that attitude, you'll never realize it either...

Today, many of my friends and many people are worried about their life and the future. It is natural to worry. I do it too! But I fight it. You should, you must, fight it too. Worrying, like saying "I never win at bingo," is creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. Stop it right now. If you say, "I never win," you won't win.

You need to start saying that you are winning (not "I'm going to win." You must say, "I am winning." In the present tense). Saying first. Repeating. This will start and plant the seeds of belief. When you believe, really believe, you can move mountains.  

From today, here's five things that you need to do to start on the track to believing that you can win at bingo and win at life:

1) Write down on three pieces of paper the saying, "The joy is in the action, not in the result." Tape one of the pieces of paper to the refrigerator and tape one in your car where you see it constantly and the last one in your wallet. Think about that phrase a lot. Repeat it out loud whenever or wherever you can.

2) Get a dollar notebook and start writing down your top 10 goals for your life and do it everyday! Here's how.

3) Wake up in the morning and the first thing you MUST do is think: "Smile! Today is going to be a great day!" If you can't remember to do this by yourself, then write it in large red letters on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror.

4) Start using the Law of Attraction and positivity to create a good self-fulling prophesy to help you. Here's how

5) Start greeting everyone you meet with a happy and healthy "Hello!" or "Good Morning!" Stop sounding like you are dead to the world. If you greet people with an un-energetic salutation then you sound like you are losing. Stop it immediately. Everyone is searching for positive people. You should be that person. Instead of being "dark" and absorbing light like a sponge, you should give out light. People are attracted to light.

And, number six, OK, I said there'd be only five, so sue me...

6) Call your mom or dad or kids and tell them you love them and do it RIGHT NOW! Don't hesitate! Or, better yet, give them a great big hug and tell them yourself how much you love them and how beautiful they are. Realize that today is a fantastic day and you all are the luckiest people in the world... (Oh, and of you do go to bingo, take grandma... She's lucky, right?) 

Some people read this and think that I am a very lucky person. I am. But I've been through two divorces, a war with cancer, family members dying in bizarre car accidents, worrying about work as we all do (nothing special)... I've been through a lot of difficult times... But you know what? I never forget something special; I know that projecting negativity will just make things worse; I know that projecting positivity, in the face of great challenges, is creating a good outcome for myself and my loved ones through the power of the Law of Attraction. I know that, by being happy and thankful that I create a better situation for you and a better situation for myself.

Remember my friends, "The joy is in the action, not in the result."

Stay happy. Stay positive. Spread positivity. You already possess the greatest prize of all.


* Did you know that those people you envied in high school who you thought were truly lucky had parents that went through a terrible divorce or a parent who died when they were young? Or they had a sibling who was terribly handicapped? Or they had a younger brother or sister who died at birth? The difference between these people and negative people? These people didn't allow these things to create dark clouds on their horizons. They took the challenges and learned from them and those challenges helped them to grow into better, more positive, more loving people.... Think about it. Everything happens for a reason. Look for the positive and you'll find it - or create it yourself.

For my friends: Dale Yost, Naomi Yamada, Allison Sayne, Jp Valentine, Julie Rogers, Sheena Rogers, George Williams, George Chumly Cockle, Takatoshi Uchiyama; and also a thanks to the positivity of the Moxxor gang of JT, James Turner, Jared Turner and John Saylor! You guys all rock!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

I Was a Teenage Collector's Item!

"Your regrets aren't what you did, but what you didn't do. 
So take every opportunity." - Cameron Diaz



That's me in the red circle. I must have been about 23 or so.

(English follows below) 僕の昔のバンド、「The Rotters」一発屋バンドが解散した後、僕は他のバンド「Wuffy Dogs」を結成した。
かれこれ34年以上も昔 まだカリフォルニアにいた時のこと。
そのバンドもあまりぱっとせずに1枚のシングルレコードを作って解散した。
それがなんと、夏にシングルレコードが1枚約16.6万円の値段が付く希少盤となっている! (#8: http://www.discogs.com/lists/Most-expensive-items-sold-in-Discogs-Marketplace-for-August-2015/257975) 4曲のうちの3曲は僕が書きました! 写真に僕が一番右。芸術家は死んで有名になるが、俺様はまだ生きているぜ!


When I was young, I was in a "One-Hit Wonder" Punk Rock Band. The band's name was "The Rotters." We played with the Dead Kennedys, Fear, Black Flag, the Germs, Angry Samoans and a bunch of other 1978~79 Los Angeles Punk Band's whose names I can't remember. I've written about it here: I Was a Teenage Punk Rocker - Why Dedication Beats Fanaticism Anyday! Even for Punk Rock or Success in Any Field! (If link doesn't work, copy & paste this into your browser: modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.jp/2012/04/i-was-teenage-punk-rocker-why.html)

I'm glad I did that and played in that band. It was a great experience.

(Left to right: Johnny Brewton, Peter MacKenzie, Bob Rogers, me (crouching with rifle). Dead on the ground was our dear friend Arya Sabahi.)

The Rotters played lots of shows with famous bands and we had, actually, more than one song released on 7 inch analogue vinyl single... I once saw the first pressing of our debut single on sale in a record store for $750 (USD). That was about 30 years ago. 

I have heard that our second single is even more valuable. 

After that band broke up, I floundered in a few other bands, but never really did anything that was as exciting as the Rotters... 

I thought... 

Until a while back... 

I opened up my Facebook and my jaw dropped to my socks! My old friend who was the drummer in another band project we had made in the early 80s had tagged me in a post showing where a record we made back in those days had sold at auction for $1,350! What the hell? 

I couldn't believe it! "The Wuffy Dogs" makes the Top 10 list for the most expensive items sold on an Internet music auction site!? What? 

The Wuffy Dogs hit #8 for the Top Ten most expensive records sold in August 2015? Wow! Check it: http://www.discogs.com/lists/Most-expensive-items-sold-in-Discogs-Marketplace-for-August-2015/257975

In brief: A few years after the Rotters broke up, my friend's and I made this band, called the Wuffy Dogs. It was my university room-mate Peter MacKenzie and my older brother, Bob and a really talented young drummer named Johnny Brewton and me. We never played live but I was convinced that some of the songs I had written could be radio hits (again) so I conned my friends to get together and record some tracks.

The recordings were done at some local studio (I forget the name) near my home. We recorded 4 songs, I wrote 3 of them and sang (screamed) on those 3 too. Pete wrote the "Radio-friendly" single and sang on that.

When the recordings were done, I tried to get us aired on KROQ in Los Angeles, but there was no fire. Nothing was happening with this record. I was kind of surprised. It seemed so easy with the Rotters.

We pressed about 250 or so of these records and I threw most of them away when I moved to Japan in 1983.

I hear that record collectors today call this particular record one of the "Holy Grail" of 7 inch records from those days. Why? Two former Rotters and the later on drummer for M.I.A.! Peter MacKenzie was famous for quitting a very famous pop band before they became huge and had a Billboard #1 single!

But, back then, when we made these records, I couldn't give them away! Now, , someone paid over thirteen-hundred dollars for one!? (Actually saw it on another auction at $1,680!) 

WTF?!

I was so happy to see this news! It was the best present I have received in years. Thank you so much for allowing me to brag!

To think that the effort we made over 30 years ago finally gets some recognition today... Unbelievable!

As my dear friend Ken always says, "Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you will die tomorrow!"

Thank you, er, destiny or fate, or just plain good luck, and being in the right place at the right time and making the effort.

Folks, live without regrets! - Mike in Tokyo Rogers


---------------------------

OH MY GOD! Somebody has actually put up on Youtube one of our songs! (I think this is one of the worst best songs I ever wrote - I Must Be Lou Reed was another one) "Things Dogs Do." Anyone who would pay big money for this must be outta their minds!!!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5VbgTxFxSY


* As one of my dear friends pointed out, even after all these years, it's nice to still be wanted.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Why I Rarely Go To Concerts in Japan Anymore: Guest Lists

(Pardon this rant....)

This is an open-letter to music and concert promoters in Japan. I'm writing this for me, but you can be sure that there's lots of industry insiders who feel the same way I do (if they don't, they were brought up under rocks and households that didn't teach them any manners either, so forget 'em.)

Promoters of Japan, I want to discuss a BS issue. I think it is BS how you handle "Guests" to your shows. I used to go to concerts all the time. But I stopped in 2005 or so. It doesn't seem that any promoters have the sense to think about why (or they don't care... But that's fine too!) 

This post will be hard to understand for most people. But try, OK? This isn't completely and uniquely about the music business in Japan and concerts, per se, it's mostly about manners and common sense.

I have been in the music industry since 1978. A so-called "professional" for over 30 years. I have always produced and created alternative and underground music shows. When new artists come out and need a break, I always play them first in Japan. It's what I do. It's been this way since the mid-80's.

When artists needed a break and needed airplay, I gave it to them. Sometimes, rarely, these artists struggle and "make it." Most just fade away.

When these artists come to Japan, I usually always get invited. I always get put on the "Guest List." I haven't paid to go to see a "Rock" concert in over 30 years. The last time I remember paying to see a concert was a Jazz performance. 

I don't play Jazz music generally on my shows, so it is understandable that Jazz promoters would not treat me special. I don't "help" them or their artists.

But rock or punk or alternative artists? That's different. In my most possibly confused thinking, I do help them and can help them a lot.

Just off the top of my head, artists I played first in Japan (and pushed heavily waaaaay before they became famous) were White Stripes, Amy Winehouse, Guns & Roses, Rancid, NOFX, Bawdies, Su Ko D Koi.... And a lot of others I can't recall at the moment. Maybe radio airplay doesn't mean what it used to. I get that. But it is still an awesome rush and bragging rights when one of the 5 FM stations in all of Tokyo plays your tunes for the first time.

But I digress....

Back to guest lists... It used to be that "Guest List" meant that you were a guest. Like in the word, "Guest" like G-U-E-S-T. That meant I could get into the concerts for free. I'd walk up to the door, say my name, and they'd let me in. I didn't have to pay any money.

Not anymore.

About ten years ago, the venues and cheap-assed producers changed the rules. Now, when they ask me to come to a show, and tell me that I'm on the "Guest List" it costs me money.

Contradiction? Yeah. And that's why it's BS. And that's why I rarely go to concerts anymore. Let me explain more.

Even though your name is put on the Guest List, in Japan, in the last 10 years or so, the claim is that the venue still charges for one drink. That one drink is usually ¥500 (about $6.00 USD). If you don't pay this ¥500 at the door, they won't let you in.

Get that? You are on the guest list, which means you are a guest but you don't get in free, but if you don't pay the fricking ¥500, upfront at the door, you can't get in. I don't get it. How could having to pay ¥500 be free? That's like having a barbecue and inviting friends over and hitting them up for money when they come to your house!

So much for being on the "Guest List." (Oh, there are still a few promoters and bands who are thinking and they don't make people who are helping them pay for drinks at the door - You know who you are! Thanks.)

It didn't used to be that way in Japan. I'll bet the foreign artists don't know this or they've been told, "It's the way things are done in Japan." Well, maybe it is, nowadays. But it didn't used to be that way. 

The first time I was "welcomed" to a concert this way was about 9 years ago at Ebisu Liquid Room. I walked up to the venue and said I was on the Guest List. They checked and I was. I walked in. Soon the door attendants stopped me and said that I had to pay ¥500

I said, "I'm on the Guest List!" They said that it didn't matter. I still had to pay ¥500 for one drink. I insisted that I wouldn't. I had never heard of such a thing. They insisted that I had to or I wouldn't be allowed entry. 

What!? Here's an artist whose music I played heavily for a few years and these clowns invite me as a guest, yet they want me to pay to enter!? No.

I turned around and walked out. 

The ridiculous part is that I like to drink and usually spend at least $30 ~ $50 on drinks at a show anyway.... But it was the principle of the thing: I was a guest but was being asked to pay money. Can't accept that.

¥500 (about $6 USD) is a paltry sum for sure. But this isn't about the money. It's about the principle. ¥500? ¥5000? ¥50,000 it doesn't matter; it's the principle of the thing that matters. And that principle means means that "Guests" don't pay (unless, of course, you are running a hotel).

I didn't ask for any tickets to any shows. If I wanted them, I'd buy them. The promoters asked me to come, "as a guest" to a show. They asked me. I didn't ask them! Then they want me to pay money at the door? With the BS excuse that "it's the venue's rules"? No thanks. 

Think about that for a moment.

How about if the shoe were on the other foot? Say, your artist comes to the radio station and is a guest on my show. Can I charge you all ¥500 to get in at the door? No? Why not?

Oh, but I know that "your artist" is important to you - much more than I am of course and that's natural... As they make money for you... (OK. So let's even the tables: I don't play them anymore. You don't make money from their airplay or from my help selling their albums or their concert tickets anymore, agreed?) 

Or I start charging ¥500 at the door of the radio station to let you and your artist in... But! Aha! You can't trick me! You'll try to secretly pay for them at the door in order not to have the artist insulted (of course, who wouldn't be insulted?) But I will make that against the rules. Your artist will have to pay in person, from their own pocket, or they won't be allowed in. That's fair. 

So, this set-up, using the typical promoter's rationale and lack of common sense, seems a good deal. No? Why not?

You sure are hard to please! 

How about this option, then: If I have to pay ¥500 to get in to your show that you asked me to attend, then let's make it fair? How about I don't go to any shows at all and I don't play your label's music anymore... That's fair. (And, actually, probably better for music in general and for everyone else.) Then, if I want to go see your artist, you sell me a ticket. If I want a drink, I'll buy one.

For my radio show that you guys always ask for support, on air plugs for your artist's shows, and for allowing your artist to be a guest on air (trust that there's lots of artists and labels who ask to be guests and we politely say, "No!") I can't charge you a measly ¥500 each to get in? Why not?

It's only ¥500 yen. No big deal, right?

At least, in the case of my radio show, I generally don't ask your artist to be a guest on my show (it's a music show. Not an interview show. I don't really want any artists on it at all actually). If and when I do ask you a favor to have your artist be a guest on my show, you can bet that your artist will treated as a guest and not be charged anything for entry... In fact, I always buy guests drinks. Any guest to my show will attest to that!

My mother was a good woman and taught me manners and a little bit of common sense.

Treating guests as if they were special?! My, what a quaint and out-dated, old-fashioned notion! 

It seems doing favors for labels and promoters in Japan and being a "Guest" isn't a two-way street. 

So that's why I rarely go to concerts anymore. I do go to concerts run by promoters who either have some manners and common sense, or they've read this blog post! Chuckle!


-----------------------

NOTE: This is not an attack on any artists. I like the music of all artists I play. This is a complete attack on promoters.... On top of pissing me off about this pay at the door BS, they give me pressure to show up at the shows or give me grief after the show when I don't show up. 

PS: AND ANOTHER THING! I also think it's total bullshit that the fans - the ticket-buyers, who buy tickets for entry - should have to be charged again when they arrive at the venue. People already pay exorbitant sums to go to concerts in Japan; sometimes paying $80 ~$150 (USD) or more for a show to see ONE artist and then the get hit for a ¥500 ~ ¥1000 drink charge at the door? Nonsense! 

No wonder the music business in Japan is doing so poorly. It's run by people who don't know how to treat other people (as in people with money who they need to make a living) properly. If they thought about it for half-a-second they'd realize that people don't like being treated like this. THAT'S one big reason why concert ticket sales are down!


---------------------------

UPDATE: Working at radio and promoting music (especially alternative music) is a low-paying crappy job (in spite of how cool people think it is)... So getting treated with the cheap-assed trick at a venue door is just like being kicked. My wife was just making fun of me about this article and saying that I might be perceived as acting like a bratty kid... If so, I don't intend that and I'm sorry for being, well, for being a bratty kid. 

2ND UPDATE: Bands! Managers! Artists! The only way to screw this up even worse is sending out a blanket invitation to everyone on Facebook! Gee... Makes all your "friends" feel important and wanted! NOT! 

NOTE: Hey! I hope you guys don't think I'm being a conceited douchebag.... This morning an artist "invited" me to a show and told me they'd arrange a "Discount Ticket" at the door.... That's a first.

Cool & Strange Music Countdown June 20, 2017! Pinksideofthemoon, Japanese Led Zeppelin, Miami Dade County Police!

Welcome back to another episode of Cool & Strange Music for June 20, 2017! Once again, it's time for our monthly dose of Cool...