The interview is really long, but reveals a LOT! Lots of little tricks, lots of screwing over the bands...lots of screwing over OTHER record labels.
Here are some of my favorite parts:
"SATOH-SAN: Oh, one other thing: On the CD jackets, there is always credits, saying “the guitarist wrote this, the vocalist wrote that.” That is all bogus – just a fantasy for the fans. The copyright and JASRAC (like NASCAP) licences all go to the producer or the parent company. I have no idea what the split is, but at any rate, some producers can get paid quite well – if they write for a famous band!"
TDR: So what do these guys do?
SATOH-SAN: They might do office work, but if there’s not enough roadies, they might do that, too! Basically it’s a big family, and the family takes care of them, and then they do whatever is needed. And when I say ‘whatever’, I’m not talking about office work. That’s why I’m using a pseudonym for this interview!
"SATOH-SAN: And this goes on until maybe 6AM. Then, outside the pub, when everyone is going home, the band members will approach certain fans and ask for their phone numbers.
TDR: For crazy hairspray sex?
SATOH-SAN: No. If you get a girl’s phone number, then she will have to come to every gig and buy every album, since she thinks you like her. Provided that you don’t publicly have a girlfriend – hence the rule."
TDR: And what if the band IS successful it IS making money and you, the musician, want to quit, because you are not getting paid?
SATOH-SAN: You can get in a lot of trouble for that!
TDR: For quitting?
SATOH-SAN: Yes. You can get in trouble two ways. You can get blacklisted from the industry, or you can get seriously assaulted by the label’s muscle. And the blacklisting can last for several years. They can’t tour even under another name. Of course if the band isn’t making money , who cares? But if the band is making money, and they want to leave the label, that’s not allowed.
TDR: So what is the alternative? 3 albums a year? Isn’t that hard for the one guy who has to write all the songs for 10 bands?
SATOH-SAN: No, no, no. Why sell one album when you can sell 6 ‘maxi-singles’ with two songs each? You can sell them throughout the year – at 1,500 yen each (almost the cost of a full album!). And then at the end of the year, you re-release all the singles with a couple of filler tracks, and call THAT the album. You just sold every song twice, and made about four times the money!
SATOH-SAN: Yes, this is a phenomenon that is very particular to the Visual Kei business. In the industry we call it the “1,500 syndrome”!! If you price it at 1,500 yen, you can re-sell it as many times as you like!
TDR: They’re so over-worked, they’re practically salarimen! But seriously, they never have side jobs?
SATOH-SAN: There’s a lot of stories about musicians prostituting themselves. It’s no problem for the company if that happens – since it doesn’t cost the company money. Unless it interferes with showing up on time!
TDR: You mean prostitute as in host club? Or as in, they got an ad in the back of gay pornos in the “OUTCALL MASSAGE” section?
SATOH-SAN: Well, six of one, half a dozen of the other. . .
SATOH-SAN: But let me tell you something really important. Visual bands – when they start – they have the big hair and costumes, but that is usually not what hey WANTED to do. They want to get famous and play rock music, yes, but the costumes and makeup is a burden to them. Just something to do to get fans, out of desperation. As soon as they get big, they lose all that stuff.
TDR: So it’s not like “Evil corporate label makes band water down their style to cater to mainstream?”
SATOH-SAN: No, quite the opposite. The band guys can’t wait to ditch the hair and costumes. That stuff is heavy to wear. Besides, they want people to appreciate the music, not just the looks.
Really, the whole interview is interesting. You can really see how much power the labels have over the bands.
And it's interesting to see that labels will threatened to stop working with a company if that company works with a rival company.