J rock musicians are a common sight in the Japanese media world. The extent may not reach that of the J-Pops, but the marketing of the artists still has a dimension unrivaled for the Western world.
Especially among fans of the Visual Kei is a phenomenon called Cosplay. The name is made up of “Costume” and “Play”. In certain places in big cities, artists’ appearances and fancy shows, the costume is as natural as the idols, the more complex the costume, the better. Some artists have already begun to make their costumes so detailed that a perfect imitation is impossible.
Others have invented their own style, such as the “Gothic Lolita” – a girlish-sweet yet dark dress style with a lot of black lace and mostly plateau and gloves. Gothic Lolitas are supposed to run daily on the streets of the cities and can be photographed for money with tourists. The real trend, however, is not from a fashion wave but from a guitarist named Mana (Malice Mizer, Moi dix Mois), who invented the style for his own costume and now sells it in his own shop.
Like Mana, other musicians have designer skills: the costumes of the Visual Kei are designed by the musicians themselves and made according to their wishes. But also ordinary J-Rock and J-Pop artists design neckties, guitar models and even underpants.
The merchandise serves merchandising, promotion, and artistic expression. As in Western culture, Japan’s own genre magazines, such as Vicious and Fool’s Mate, offer interviews and photos of the stars. In addition, there are a number of music transmissions such as “HotWave”, “Bee Friday”, “Pink Paparazzi” or “Music Station” in Japan, where stars play, interviews, games and new songs live. There are also several TV channels, on which video clips are broadcast to the singles. In the great mass of radio stations some stars have their own programs or moderate them.
Of course, Japan also has its own charts. The most important and most cited tables for J-Rock and J-Pop are the “Oricon Charts”, which measure the success of a group or an artist to sell their goods.
There are also advertising contracts and a spread to other areas that the musicians use to express their art in a different way. You can find their voices in anime-tunings again or as models on high-gloss magazines, read their biographies or listen to their settings of strange books. In 2003 the film MoonChild was created with two of Japan’s most famous singers: Gackt, a pop idol of Japan, and Hyde, the lead singer of the band “L’Arc ~ en ~ Ciel”. This film deals with a modern vampire story and was written by Gackt as part of a major project.
Most importantly for the promotion is probably the production of music videos of singles for stations like the Japanese MTV. They are called “PromotionVideo” – PV for short – and are at least as diverse as the videos, which are shown in Germany on “Viva” and “MTV”.
We see, then, that J-Rock and J-Pop embrace a vast area that is strongly similar to the form and variety of Western musical culture, and in part goes beyond it.