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Country Profile: Japan

The world’s leading promoters & the 55 top markets they operate in.
Click the interactive map below to explore the top 55 global markets.

It would be a stretch to suggest that the real money in Japan is in international artists. Anecdotally, domestic acts make up 90% of Japanese concert ticket sales,
though that figure may finally be on course to rise again – and may, according to some reports, have already done so.

“Japan is getting closer to the overseas market as distribution grows and YouTube and TikTok become mainstream,” Naoki Shimizu, president of Creativeman, told IQ in August. “Our goal is to return to the 25% share of western music that existed 20 years ago. Now it is said to be 10%, but I believe that the share has risen to about 15%.”

Creativeman is operator of the prominent Summer Sonic Festival and one of the leading Japanese promoters, which also include Hayashi International Promotion, Kyodo Tokyo, Fuji Rock promoter Smash, UDO Artists and, given half a chance, a familiar group of eager western newcomers.

Live Nation Japan operates under former UDO Artists executive Kei Ikuta and has made no secret of its ambition to grow its share of a live market ranked second in the world after the US. Likewise, CTS Eventim has identified Japan as a key Asian priority, with Jason Miller at the helm of its Eventim Live Asia operation. AEG Presents is there, too, in partnership with local indie giant Avex Entertainment.

With its massive domestic J-pop industry, Japan does not have a burning need for either international talent or promoters – though there are heartening suggestions that artists who work hard enough can do very well. But global operators certainly need Japan if they are to make significant progress in Asia in general.

“Japan is a mature market in Asia but entering it as a competitor can still be beneficial for several reasons.”

“Japan is a mature market in Asia but entering it as a competitor can still be beneficial for several reasons,” Eventim Live Asia director of touring Mitsuyo McGroggan said in the summer. “Japan’s status as an anchor market means that success there can serve as a foundation for expanding and leveraging your brand in other cities within the region. Essentially, Japan acts as a launchpad for your expansion efforts in the broader Asian market.”

Bruno Mars has emerged in recent years as an example to western stars seeking Japanese success. He sold out five shows at the Tokyo Dome in late 2022, amounting to more
than 200,000 tickets – and is now booked in for seven sold-out shows in January 2024.

“These shows will be the biggest by any international act in Japan this century,” said promoter Kaori Hayashi of Hayashi International Promotion, who suggests Mars’s Japanese achievements recall the heyday of Michael Jackson. “Bruno has regularly toured Japan and actively promotes his shows here. I think his incredible success will encourage other artists to invest more time in Japan.”

“These shows will be the biggest by any international act in Japan this century.”

Even the biggest stars benefit from a dose of humility and a bit of local endorsement when they come to Tokyo. Coldplay’s two Tokyo Dome shows in November will feature Sony duo Yoasobi, one of the most influential groups in the current J-pop scene.

“Collaborations like these are highly beneficial for expanding the artist’s fanbase, especially among younger audiences, and we expect this significance to grow further in the future,” Ikuta said.

For promoters, there is also increasing optimism about a reciprocal trade in western and Japanese talent in both directions.

“For the international artist market, we think that there will be continued growth in the arena and stadium show sector, as the supply of new star acts from not just the US and UK but other global markets increases,” said Ikuta, whose recent shows include the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Tokyo Dome and Osaka-jō Hall; Ariake Arena shows for Harry Styles in Tokyo; and arena dates for the Backstreet Boys and Sting.

“Alongside that, we think there will be a continued expansion of a new generation of more globally minded young Japanese artists who are born into the social media era and have a great appetite to tour around the world.”

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