20th Fuji Rock Recap
On July 3, YouTube and Softbank announced for the first time ever that this year’s Fuji Rock Festival would be available on livestream through Fuji Rock’s YouTube channel.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the annual Fuji Rock festival is Japan’s largest outdoor music event. Over 250 artists performed on a total of 15 stages at the Naeba Ski Resort in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture.
Thanks to YouTube’s investment in the Japanese music industry, this year’s festival had a global beat that reverberated live, world-wide.
In commemoration of its 20-year run dating back to the first festival at the base of Mt. Fuji in 1997, Fuji Rock released two official compilation albums and an anniversary memorial book.
When comparing the Fuji Rock Festival 20th Anniversary Collection CDs 1997-2006 and 2007-2016, you will notice straight away the quality of international guests Fuji Rock Festival has attracted to perform on its stages, as well as the diversity in mixed genres sharing the spotlight through the years.
Noticeable big names of rock and roll in the first decade are Beck and the Foo Fighters, whereas in the second decade, artists known for mellow vibes such as Jason Mraz, and electronic music duo JUSTICE are included in the track list.
YouTube’s investment in the Japanese music industry
Friday, July 27 marked an historical milestone for the Japanese music industry. Select festival performances were broadcast live on YouTube for the first time ever, through Fuji Rock Festival’s official YouTube channel. The global celebration continued for all three days of the festival.
The livestream broadcast featured international talent such as N.E.R.D, Post Malone and CHVRCHES, and showcased Japanese artists like MISIA, Sakanaction and Glim Spanky.
The livestream timetable was officially announced a couple of days before the event kicked-off, with daily morning updates. YouTube brought the festival excitement to fans, fulfilling the promised unique experience.
The YouTube first-ever livestream, supported by Softbank, was a strong statement for the Japanese music industry and provided a global introduction for Japanese artists. Traditionally, the Japanese music industry’s primary source of revenue is through sales of physical media which comprise an 80% share of the total market – ownership model. It is the second largest market in the world (first being the USA).
Consumers are expected to see similar formats for music events in the near future as 2018 will be remembered for digitalization in the Japanese media landscape. Even conservative talent agency Johnny’s announced they were creating a YouTube channel.
Also on site at Naeba, YouTube set up a lounge and recording area to interview artists, further extending the Fuji Rock experience by providing exclusive online content on Fuji Rock’s YouTube channel. Misia, Nariaki Obukuro, Ichiro Yamaguchi (from Sakanaction), Mongol800, cero and other Japanese artists’ interviews have been published.
YouTube Japan operates a studio and recording facility in Roppongi – the YouTube Space – which hosts industry events, live music sessions performed by Japanese artists, and music video production. YouTube Japan actively promotes Japanese artists weekly on social media, with the main focus of inspiring artists to love YouTube as a place that promotes creativity and enables their success.
With YouTube’s involvement in the digital online experience of Fuji Rock, it’s difficult to ignore their growing role in raising the awareness of music talent.
Bob Dylan at Fuji Rock Festival
Bob Dylan (77), the singer / songwriter who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016, was the headliner for the last day of the Fuji Rock Festival. It was the first time Bob Dylan has performed in Japan since receiving the award.
Bob Dylan and his Band appeared on the final day of the 3-day festival. The stage was decorated with a trophy of the Academy Awards Oscars statuette, and the piano started with “Things Have Changed”, the theme song when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his songs.
Bob Dylan didn’t spend much time talking during the set. He focused on singing and performed 16 songs, including 1960’s masterpieces It Ain’t Me, Babe and Highway 61 Revisited. In closing, a gentle violin melody cutting through the moment of stillness gave a cue to the audience to cheer as Blowin’ in The Wind filled the atmosphere.
Without a doubt, the highlight for many Japanese music fans was the last-minute collab with worldwide EDM superstar Skrillex and Japanese rock and roll pioneer Yoshiki from X-JAPAN. It was an unbelievable fusion of electronic-dance music and British glam influenced by Japanese rock.
The announcement was made through Yoshiki’s Twitter account revealing that he was rehearsing with Day-2 headliner Skrillex. This was a surprise to all as the former X-JAPAN drummer was not included officially in the Fuji Rock Festival line up. Yoshiki’s tweet reached 8.5K likes, over 2.2K retweets and reaching almost 800 replies on the single thread where fans wished him a warm welcome back and good luck on his performance.
— Yoshiki (@YoshikiOfficial) July 27, 2018