There are many opportunities to think about the future of entertainment.
I have worked as a media brodeuse all over the world, so I have many opportunities to be up-dated with the world’s senses.
I was talking to my partner in Montreal this morning and he told me that over 70% of the shows in Las Vegas are supported by Quebecers (French Canadians = Québécois). Interesting. Cirque du Soleil is probably the best example.
Japanese entertainment (shows, art, etc.) has consistently operated solely on domestic demand (the economic sphere remains within Japan) since the Edo period (1603-1868), when the country was closed to the outside world. The postwar economic development led to population growth and the simultaneous spread of television and magazines, and the entertainment market reached its largest size in the 20th century. Sony’s acquisition of Hollywood Studios, a symbol of the United States, was also a sign of the times.
Now, in the 21st century, with the advent of the Internet age, Japanese entertainment continues to decline. DXing of mass media such as TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines is lagging behind. They have been abandoned by Generation Z and are in decline.
In the meantime, South Korea, with a population less than half the size of Japan’s, has been cutthroat and overseas-oriented since it originally could not rely on domestic demand. 2013’s “Winter Sonata” was still targeting Japan, but now it has developed a global sensibility, starting with the Best Picture Oscar win for “Parasite” and continuing with the worldwide success of Netflix’s “Squid Game,” which became a hit; BTS and others in the music world have developed a global sensibility to the point where they are usually nominated for Grammy Awards.
Meanwhile, with the Corona pandemic, Chinese entertainment has lost momentum around the world due to extreme government policies (Zero Corona). Tencent and Alibaba are no longer sponsoring Hollywood movies. However, China has more than 10 times the population of Japan, so there is enough market for domestic demand oriented.
Now, what is the direction that Japanese entertainment should aim for?
It would be a thoroughly global orientation. Fashion once swept the world. The achievements of Issey Miyake, Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, and Kenzo Takada have elevated Japanese brands. In the field of music, YMO and, more recently, “city pop” based on pop songs have become popular. It should be noted that the man behind “city pop,” Night Tempo, is Korean. The future of the Japanese entertainment scene is predicated on such multinational collaborations. It is hard to find our own culture by ourselves.
There are, of course, some healthy fields. Japanese animation is immensely popular in Taiwan, Thailand, Germany, France, and other countries via YouTube, even without translation. In recent years, world-class contemporary artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara have also emerged.
In order to further accelerate these first global developments in Japan, we need to increase the number of people like myself who can set up entertainment around the world.
What is needed to achieve this?
It is the “blood of the stranger.” Exchange beyond the borders of an island nation. It is to let foreign capital in. It has to be open to protect it. In the past, when Rupard Murdoch of News Corp. tried to take over TV Asahi, the whole country blocked it. The TV media is no longer as influential as it was in the 20th century. Now is the time to bring in “outsider blood.
Opening up TV stations should change the content structure dramatically. And for that to happen, Japan’s first startups like Mercari should be run by many foreign capital. And with the weak yen! I believe that Japanese startups will be the next pillar of Japan after tourism and Cool Japan. The former failure of Livedoor and Rakuten to acquire TV stations will be a lesson for history. I believe the next generation of Japanese start-ups will change the media structure in Japan.
As one example, while existing media are weakening, contemporary art in Japan is booming like never before. Works by LY and Ayako Rokkaku, among friends, have seen their economic value increase by a factor of 20 over the past few years through auctions, and are attracting attention overseas as well. They are supported by Japanese tech art collectors.
With the unprecedented money glut caused by Corona, contemporary art is becoming a more important asset portfolio than real estate or stocks. If investments that are commonplace among the rich in Europe and the U.S. take root in Japan, content investments for online like Netflix and music investments will be distributed around the world as investment products with proper fund managers.