By Dan Grunebaum
Finally, a decent English-language
Google J-pop and youll
get a dozen or so websites devoted to Japanese popular music.
Theres certainly no lack of interest in the subject
among English speakers, but too many of these websites seem
to be hastily cobbled together fan sites, or devoted exclusively
to hawking merchandise. Jpop.com, for instance, is currently
undergoing a major redesign with its most recent
Top 30 chart dating to Nov 30.
Frustrated by the lack of information about Japanese music
on the otherwise authoritative All Music Guide (allmusic.com)
and on the web in general, three foreign veterans of the Japanese
entertainment industry recently got together to launch Nippop
(nippop.com), which went online this January 1.
American Keith Cahoon spent two decades as the CEO of Tower
Records Japan before starting music publisher Hotwire; fellow
countryman Bill Haw is the General Manager at the Tokyo office
of online Asian entertainment retailer YesAsia.com; while
Canadian Steve McClure is known as the author of the book
Nippon Pop as well as the Billboard Asia bureau chief. For
help with some of the hardcore programming the three are assisted
by a college student in Romania of all places.
Although the site is new, the idea behind it is not,
says their introduction page.
Unbeknownst to each other, over the last few years we
had each been kicking around the idea of creating a channel
to provide comprehensive information in English on the Japanese
music scene...a worldwide groundswell of Japanese pop culture
awareness made now the obvious time to turn the ideas into
While still in its infancy, Nippop is off to a running start.
The clean, uncluttered homepage offers three of its most recent
profiles, a search function and a weekly feature. Already
numbering well over one hundred artists, the profiles are
authoritatively written and culturally informative, if lacking
in the kind of detailed discographies to be found on All Music
Features provide up-to-date reports on the Japanese music
industry as well as insights into the history of Japanese
pop music. A story dated January 29, for instance, looks at
the booming chaku mero cell phone ring tone market and its
transition to full song chaku uta downloads, while another
article examines the background behind the little understood
form of enka.
Without revealing figures, Cahoon says the site is already
outstripping their expectations, and has received feedback
from as far away as Chile. Respondents have asked for more
entries on the kind of independent music and J-pop artists
that have been popular overseas in the past. But the biggest
surprise, he says, is the effect the anime boom is having
in drawing people into Japanese music.
With its ambition to be the worlds best English-language
resource on Japanese music, Nippop has set its sights
high. But aside from personal satisfaction, whats in
it for the three? We want it to make money, but we are
not doing it to make money, says Cahoon. There
are quite a number of possible applications, and we have already
received some offers. Revenue models include a mix of
banner advertising, subscriptions and referral commissions.
We think Nippop will do okay financially, Cahoon
concludes. But we will continue with the site irregardless.
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