For Japan’s music industry there is no going back to “the way it was”. After the COVID-19 pandemic threw release schedules into chaos and live shows were canceled en masse, J-pop accelerated to new realities that are now the norm for 2023. Subscription streaming and YouTube have become standard distribution channels for all but a rare few artists, and even they are probably considering the jump. Hits come from TikTok and anime, often without carefully planned ad campaigns to drive them.
Of course, the general entertainment atmosphere in Japan feels more upbeat than in previous pandemic years. Arena-size concerts have returned and major J-pop acts are already planning cross-country tours, which seemed shaky early last year. Others are turning to international opportunities now that borders are open again.
One of the biggest changes is that as the industry has adjusted to the digital realities of global music consumption, J-Pop has the opportunity to transform its image on the world stage.
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