So boom, it was just announced that rock-idol darlings PASSCODE will be releasing their major label debut album, “MISS UNLIMITED” for iTunes in Canada, Mexico, and the USA on November 18th. (Yes the same day that was chosen for the “New Idol Army” event, so it’s gonna be quite a weekend!) This is yet another valuable opportunity to flex our idol consumer muscles in North America, and we need to rally the troops (or “Hackers”, in Passcode fandom terms.) and make this count.
A couple of things I’d like to stress. When Babymetal’s first album debuted at number one on iTunes international metal charts, that was an event that made their record label and their management take notice that there was a very real market underway here. The eventual worldwide success of Babymetal, and the reason why it actually became feasible to see them live on your soil, started becoming a truly tangible thing that day. It made news over here and in Japan. It made Senpai notice us, you dig? I have no idea if any Jpop group will ever repeat a crossover on that level, and I won’t even attempt to promise any such thing, but we owe it to ourselves to try to alter the game wherever we can.
Even if the Passcode and BiSH’s of the world never come abroad, at a minimum we can help stir a market where it’s easier and more accessible to purchase their music and merchandise, encourage them to share information in other languages, and maybe even get some more of this doggone YouTube region blocking resolved. (Case in point below.)
Second, there’s another issue international fans of Japanese music need to understand. Sometimes I’ll hear fans point out that they’ve already pre-ordered or bought an imported CD of a Japanese artist they love, therefore they see no reason to get “double-dipped” and buy a domestic release. Or perhaps you don’t like digital music, or dislike iTunes in particular. I can understand that. Buying music from Japan is awesome, and I do the same thing as much as my finances allow. But there’s a very frustrating “but” to that. Oricon, Japan’s primary music chart, does NOT count ANY sales outside of the country. I cannot explain why, because I don’t understand it either, but if you buy a record or disc from CDJapan, Amazon Japan or wherever, while the sales royalties of course get paid out, the purchase is exempted from the charts once it leaves the country. I’ve looked it it up and discussed it with others, and it’s been confirmed that that’s the way it is. I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but the fact is, we don’t count among Japanese sales figures. (A minor clarification, labels do pay attention overseas sales though services such as CDJapan, but these sales still aren’t included in chart sales apparently. I still suspect they are overlooked and perhaps under appreciated. I welcome any feedback I can get on this if anyone can help further.)
SO here’s what I’d like to emphasize, I realize most of us aren’t wealthy, but if you really truly want to help a Japanese group you love, spending the extra 13-20 bucks (or whatever the currency) for a release specifically marketed in your home country will make an impact. If 10,000 North Americans order Passcode albums from Japan, but then decide they don’t need that iTunes domestic release since they already bought it, the label assumes that North America isn’t very interested in Passcode. That’s the unfortunate truth. Buying this music is a vote with your $$$, and it’s an investment that may improve the odds of getting more music you love with much easier availability, and if we’re very fortunate, may plant a seed in a group’s management to say “Hey, maybe we should book a couple of shows over there, I think we could fill a medium-sized venue.”
It’s notable to mention Passcode’s management reached out to the North American market using their official Facebook account, with a statement in English. They just dipped their foot into our waters to see if they get a nibble, and we owe them for their efforts with a generous response. If we prove this venture is worth their while, there can be rich rewards for all of us, maybe even “UNLIMITED” rewards. (Sorry, that was really lame.)
Anyway, on November 18th, “Let’s unlock the PASSCODE!” (Y’know, I’m just gonna shut up now.)
PS: I’m certain anyone reading this is already a member of the Homicidols Army. Keep an eye on the Maniac’s blog, Bookface, and Twitter because there will be some kind of hashtag in honor and celebration of Passcode’s highly anticipated North American release.