Crowdsourcing Japanese indie with Electric Eel Shock and Fan-Bo

The lead feature on yesterday’s Japan Times music page was an interview with Kazuto Maekawa of bubblegum garage-metal power trio Electric Eel Shock about his new crowdsourcing web site Fan-Bo and it’s an interesting read so please check it out.

I wrote a piece a few years back on on EES’ earlier success in raising money via the site Sellaband, and it’s interesting that they’ve now decided to take it a step further by themselves. There are a few points that stand out for me.

Electric Eel Shock: Scream For Me

Firstly the emphasis on carefully selecting the bands and projects they choose to put up. The signal-to-noise ratio on those kinds of sites can make them impossible to navigate and so it’s often the work of a chaotic combination self-promotion and web buzz via a number of platforms that creates success. Having some process of filtering strikes me as a good thing and suggests that EES are in this for the music rather than just going all-out for the money.

Secondly, the people they have involved so far are an interesting crowd. Of course Daniel Robson (who wrote the article) and his It Came From Japan project have a lot of experience with promoting Japanese music abroad and more importantly have a musical identity established over years of promoting bubblegum pop-punk, new wave-influenced electronic quirk-pop and garage howlmeistery, but Hajime Yoshida of Panicsmile’s until recently dormant Headache Sounds label and the Tokyo Boredom event crew are equally important in bringing some Japan alternative/experimental scene gravitas to the project. Thus far, these are all people who have worked with EES for many years and have a close relationship with them, but hopefully as the site grows, they can get more other people plugged into other aspects of the contemporary Japanese indie/underground scene to fulfill a similar filtering/”curating” (sorry) role. Certainly connecting with overseas promoters like Canada’s Next Music From Tokyo would seem like a good idea.

Panicsmile: A Girl Supernova

Lastly, the plan to operate the site in English and Japanese is admirable. Sites like Natalie have tried this in the past but their English page crashed and burned early on. Time Out Tokyo operates bilingually but with very little crossover between the material published on the two languages’ sites. Already Fan-Bo’s content is weighted heavily towards Japanese language material and I can see that as business gravitates towards the Japanese version, the English page will be in danger of being neglected but for a handful of bands with pre-existing overseas fanbases. I really hope this doesn’t happen and that the owners continue to invest in the English page even if it doesn’t bring in much money, because over time and with some of the people they have involved, Fan-Bo could be a really useful portal into Japanese indie and underground music for overseas listeners.

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