Japan Fests Going Local

Summer Sonic has added a number of new Japanese acts to the roster in the past few weeks, including the grand old man of Japanese rock ’n’ roll, Eikichi Yazawa.

According to the Japanese-language entertainment blog Netallica, the two foreign music-identified summer music festivals – Summer Sonic and Fuji Rock Festival – are having trouble pushing tickets right now, and SS, at least, has tried to add some high-profile Japanese acts to the lineup to boost sales, including Yazawa and the hit hip-hop group Funky Monkey Babys.

A ticket agency representative interviewed by Netallica said that “except for special cases like Lady Gaga,” the concert market for foreign artists is at a low point right now.

In the past year, a number of concerts by “mid-level” foreign acts were canceled because of poor advance sales.

Usually, the cancellations were advertised as having been requested by the artists, but the ticket company rep says that in “80 or 90 percent of the cases” it was the promoter who bailed.

It’s very expensive to bring a foreign artist to Japan, even a mid-level one, and if tickets don’t move fast enough after they go on sale the promoter may decide to cut his losses.

In truth, sales of tickets for Japanese artists aren’t that healthy either, but even top-drawer Japanese acts cost only a fraction of what a mid-level foreign artist costs.

Also, Yazawa has a well-heeled fan base that sees virtually every show he plays, so SS assumes a good portion of it will show up even though he won’t be a headliner.

Another problem for Summer Sonic is that this year it will take place the same weekend as Rock in Japan, which is the biggest summer rock festival in Japan in terms of attendance. It features only Japanese artists.

Big-name acts at this year’s Summer Sonic include Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins and Nickelback.