Monday, February 8, 2010

On Kamiki Aya, Avex and GIZA

Apologies for skipping a week (technically two, but I told you about one of them first!).  I've been waiting for some CDs to arrive, but the shipment has gotten messed up.  For now, some scattered, incoherent musings.

Among those CDs are the two new Kamiki Aya albums: one an original album from her new record company, Avex, and one a best album from her old company, Being/GIZA.  I've been thinking a lot about this move between record companies recently.  What makes this move so significant? Her original record label was Being/GIZA.  Although Being/GIZA has acquired a sort of reputation for producing genuine artists as opposed Avex (in particular through the emphasis on GIZA and its indie label background), essentially both are pop factories: pretty faces singing songs not written by them, despite ventures into lyric writing.  Does this movement mean that Avex made a good offer (probably)? It's fascinating to think about (and certainly Avex's higher production values and marketing costs are clearly seen on the inside and outside of Kamiki's new album, particularly in contrast with the best album put out by Being/GIZA at the same time.  Furthermore, since Kamiki only switched to Avex as a record label and not as her artist management, it will be interesting to see how Avex markets her.  Will she be forever doomed to obscurity like the artists on the SONIC GROOVE sub-label, all graduates of Okinawa Actors' School? Or will it turn out that she was just signed for a promotional boost for the company, much like MISIA was notably signed in order to help kick off Avex's Rhythmusic sub-label, and quickly moved back to BMG JAPAN immediately after her contract was up.  Whatever the reason, and despite Kamiki Aya's somewhat marginal status compared to B'z, Kuraki Mai or other artists at Being/GIZA, this is definitely a move that sends a strong message to Being/GIZA, whose emphasis on their image as a producer of real musicians has often been used to preclude or explain things like negligible artist promotion or low quality product.

Tangentially, it is interesting to note that calling both Avex and GIZA pop factories at the same time separates them from being idol factories, which ironically Zetima has subsumed for itself by the "domination" of the Morning Musume franchise.  In an incredibly Raymond Williams-esque turn, their appearance on the music scene in the 90s has realigned the way that idols are thought of in the music industry, so that, except perhaps for their "rivals" of AKB48, even the most idol of idols in today's music world can be given slightly more credence as "pop musicians."

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