Leaders August 2013

The Sounds of Success

Music is essential to the UK’s identity

In both Japan and the UK, summer now means music. The UK this year celebrated a magnificent Glastonbury Festival blessed with sunshine (a rarity) and the Rolling Stones’ first performance in the festival’s 43-year history. The festival headline band was, for the first time, English folk rock group Mumford & Sons.

This award-winning British band celebrated its Japan debut at this year’s Fuji Rock Festival, held annually in Niigata Prefecture over the last weekend in July. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them in action.

Here at the BCCJ we also have taken the opportunity to focus on music. The cover of last month’s issue of ACUMEN featured DJ Fatboy Slim and other British acts starring in front of a record crowd at the annual Big Beach Festival ’13, supported by the British Embassy Tokyo.

And to look at music in Japan, we held an event featuring Japanese DJ and broadcaster Peter Barakan, BCCJ member Guy Perryman, and industry insider Keitaro Sumii of Warner Music Japan.

Guy hosts Japan’s only dedicated British music programme, which is broadcast daily on InterFM, while Peter is one of the most respected broadcasters and music authorities in the country.

We saw at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games just what a soundtrack British music can put together.

Music is fundamental to the UK’s identity and this world-leading industry is going from strength to strength.

In June, Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the phenomenal global success of British music, as new figures were released by the representative voice of the UK recorded music business, the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI). They reveal that UK artists’ share of album sales had grown globally to 13.3% in 2012—the highest on record.

British acts have now claimed the world’s top-selling album for five of the past six years, according to BPI.

Music continues to be one of the UK’s key creative industry exports and, with Japan the world’s second-largest music market—and the potential to take the number-one spot from the US in 2013—there is enormous opportunity for growth.

Launched last year, the UK government’s Music is Great campaign has gone from strength to strength and has attracted over 338,000 followers to its Facebook page. In addition, there is strong interest in its Japanese sister page, British Music in Japan (@britishmusicjp).

The BCCJ will be making its own contribution to UK music in Japan at our annual British Business Awards to be held on 1 November. There will be a special performance by award-winning solo violinist and songwriter Diana Yukawa.

Wherever you may be during the festival season and whatever your taste in music, I hope you have the chance to enjoy a live performance and celebrate one of the UK’s great creative industries.

British Music in Japan: