Label scents global success with Japan band Perfume

Wed Mar 7, 2012 8:05am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The world's biggest record label says it is trying something a little different as it seeks the elusive "holy grail" for Japanese pop -- global chart success.

A procession of "J-pop" acts touted as the next big thing on the world stage have come and gone, most causing barely a ripple in markets like the United States, Germany and Britain.

Audiences outside Asia just don't "get" the music and lyrics, experts say, although pinning down exactly why has proved more difficult.

Labels' strategy has tended to focus on coaching Japanese acts to sound and appear more Western, notably by encouraging them to sing in English and try genres like hip-hop and R'n'B.

Now Universal Music Group plans to do the opposite as it seeks to launch techno-pop girl band Perfume on to the world stage -- celebrate their "Japan-ness."

"We want to sell the package as they are now," said Kimitaka Kato, managing director of Universal International at the label's Japanese division.

"I won't get them to sing 100 percent in English and not Westernize them at all unless they ask us to," he told Reuters by telephone from Japan. "I think with Perfume it's all about that futuristic Japanese image."

In what is billed as a first for Universal, it has just released Perfume's number one album "JPN" on iTunes in 50 countries.   Continued...