‘The Tour With Limited CD Sales at Venues’

Veteran Japanese pop trio Clammbon has released its latest EP on its own. The band, which regularly sells out its concerts, has been a popular draw for 20 years. 

Photo: 2009 © clammbon Daisuke Ito / Ikuko Harada / Mito 1995
promo shot via clammbon.com

It has been signed to a major label since 1999. It’s unusual for a Japanese artist of its stature to self-release recordings. More to the point, the EP is mainly available at the group’s concerts. It is not being distributed through normal commercial channels to retailers, either through stores or online, though it can be bought at about 150 restaurants and non-record shops run by Clammbon fans.

In fact, the concert tour, which started in February, was called “The Tour With Limited CD Sales at Venues,” to emphasize that fans could purchase the EP at shows.

The group often took 20 minutes at each concert to explain to the audience why they had become “independent,” outlining in detail how artists typically only received 5 percent of the revenue from their major label releases, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

Bassist Mito told the paper the band has “great respect for the record companies that nurtured us,” and said he understands that promoting a new artist requires a “large initial investment.”

In any case, the band’s back catalogue is still controlled by labels, so those can still make money on the group’s continuing success.

A music journalist told Yomiuri that such a strategy might only work for a group like Clammbon since they “have their own office, recording studio, equipment and fans.” It remains to be seen if any other major label artist goes the independent route.