As glad as I am to see the SEB Presents… collections on iTunes again, I can’t help but fear that, even with my own efforts to bring attention to the series not doing too poorly, people will largely be unaware that these albums are available, and they will dwindle into obscurity— and with it, an important factor in establishing Eurobeat as an internationally regarded genre in whole. If we wish to see Eurobeat blossom as a genre worthy of international consideration and merit, we absolutely CANNOT afford on any level for such a thing to happen. I’ve spent more than seven years of my life trying to bring the genre that gave me hope some compense for the role it’s had in my life, and I will not let it curl up and die unless and until I have exhausted my existing options to at least try to see it survive and thrive.
There are things we as fans can do to make sure Avex— AND the Eurobeat labels themselves— recognize that we are not only aware that these are available to us, but that if they expanded on these offerings that we would make it worth the effort. I’ll start with an obvious one and work my way around from there.
ACTUALLY BUY THE MUSIC
This one’s a no-brainer. Eurobeat is just as much a part of the music business as any other genre, and as anyone who knows what a business is could tell you, businesses run on and are lubricated by money in the same way cars do on oils of various sorts. Despite popular belief, releasing files on iTunes DOES cost money, so by placing so MANY albums on iTunes avex and/or whoever is publishing the series they are not only taking a chance on a market that may not bite (unless we act in a way that is conducive to further releases), but quite likely paying a significant amount to do so. The only way that makes any business sense for them to continue to invest in this venture is if their existing investment is compensated. This is done through the revenue from sales.
If that sounds obvious, it should— a truly stunning and disappointing number of people seem to think the Eurobeat world is funded on rainbows and unicorn spittle with sprinkles in it (though if they did manage to find a unicorn, much less coax genetic material from it, perhaps they WOULD be able to fund themselves quite well). Every song, every file you see up there that takes up actual physical space on your hard drive, has value to the writers, vocalists, producers, engineers, mixers/masterers, A&R reps, publishers, and individuals who are pretty likely running campaigns to measure how well these albums are doing. They will only be able to keep doing this if they are paid for the work they’ve done. Let’s get them their much-deserved paychecks.
ENGAGE WITH THE CONTENT
What do I mean here? At first glance it sounds like some sort of online marketing mumbo jumbo. Which, yeah, it kind of is, but there’s a reason for it.
When you download a track or album off of iTunes (or any future stores to which the series may publish), it means revenue for the people who worked on the song and got it from the studio hard drive to yours. Good. Yes. Do that. But we also have things we can do to show that we care about it even more than that.
We can leave */5 ratings in iTunes and little reviews of each album. That’s good, it gives people insight as to if they should try the album out or not. An album with a lot of reviews and imperfect score is more likely to see a purchase than one completely without reviews.
We can tweet about what we’re listening to from these albums. This is good too, it shows that we’re not just listening to the music, we’re proud to show it off to the world. By doing this we show the world that this is music just as worthy of attention as anything else with a “#nowplaying” next to it.
We can write our own reviews of the tracks and albums on our Facebook pages, our Twitters, our Tumblrs, our Instagrams, our various points of outreach. This is better, because not only does it demonstrate that we have purchased the content, it also demonstrates that we are directly thinking about each piece, and possibly sparking discussion about the material. Even a debate or outright nasty fight between people means that Eurobeat is a relevant source of discussion, which would put it a hell of a lot higher on Google Trends than it is now. (No, seriously, these DO get noticed and boosted by Google, particularly if it’s on your own domain though social sites like Tumblr also count as blogging in this instance.)
We can post the links to the actual albums or songs in new places. This is VERY good, not only because it can be tied together with the interest-raising properties of the previous few, but because we now give interested and curious potential fans the opportunity to try it for themselves. It gives them a chance to put their money where their mouth is, and perhaps find that the flavor is sweeter than expected. (Disclaimer, don’t actually put money on or in your mouth. It’s a good way to get sick.)
By not just listening to the music but outright engaging with it, butting heads with it and displaying it to the world as something more than just a 69¢ audio expenditure, we give it not just search engine relevance but much-needed and desirable attention. We bring attention, traffic, and hopefully new converts to the cause, who in turn bring the genre more of the same. Because these releases have been almost completely unadvertised barring for the ramblings of some 23-year-old failure to launch on a site on which he still hasn’t properly installed Google Analytics, it’s clear we have some legwork to do to give the style the kind of attention a proper ad campaign WOULD drive to the cause.
COMPARE IT TO OTHER STYLES
Oh boy here we go.
Eurobeat is a club style of dance music. It’s a bizarre form, probably not conducive to much actual dancing, but it’s a form nevertheless. The problem is, it hasn’t been treated that way for many years now, not on the same level as other dance genres have. Genres like house and trance have seen updates, upgrades, and made new neighbors in the last few years. It’s easy to hear elements of one genre sprinkled about in another, and it drives creativity between producers through the roof.
Eurobeat has not had this yet, barring MAYBE “Welcome to the Show” on SEB 223. It needs to be discussed just as much on its own as it does in relationship with other styles of dance music. By putting it in that context, we establish it as worthy of consideration, scrutiny, critique and ultimately evaluation by new ears who may be the ones who spin it at the right club at the right hour to the right crowd that gives it a well-needed jolt into the public eye. Not only does this expose Eurobeat to other producers who may take its elements and parse it into their own work, it also exposes other producers to Eurobeat, which could benefit from some stylistic shakeups to try to at least speak the same language as other styles. It doesn’t have to have the same conversation, as long as it’s able to communicate as much with other styles. Discussing it as such will perpetuate this point.
TALK TO AVEX AND THE EUROBEAT LABELS
This one’s a bit counterintuitive, I admit. This is like proposing that a Skrillex fan just waltz right up to Skrillex and ask him to his face why “Scary Bolly Dub” was just a medley of other songs he’s already made*. Am I really saying we have direct conversation with the publishers, producers, vocalists and writers?
Yes. Yes I am.
Even since Myspace was still a relevant thing to anyone at all, the folks in charge of making Eurobeat music were EXTREMELY easy to reach with questions about their music. One of the many wonderful things that sets the Eurobeat genre apart is that the people involved in it tend to be extremely down to earth and welcome to answering questions or just plain talking about work you enjoyed. They may not be able to answer EVERYTHING (they don’t all necessarily still like each other after all these years, and whatever they can’t say about avex must be legally respected), but they can still provide a level of communication that is surprising in other genres. And, while not perfect, the SEB Official page on Facebook is still a truly noble attempt at acknowledging that not every fan of Eurobeat speaks Japanese as a first language, much less lives in Japan. If Avex knows we’re interacting with their big stars in the Eurobeat world, they know we care about the content and the people making it.
Doesn’t this all seem like a lot of work? It WOULD have been nicer if Avex was open about it with an actual advertising campaign and outreach program, instead of silently sneaking this content onto iTunes without so much as a peep. However, I know for a solid and demonstrable fact that Eurobeat fans and producers are able, willing and ready to put in the extra effort to see something through and make it happen, and now is our second chance to do precisely that. Eurobeat has only become more and more relevant since 2011, not because of the Super Eurobeat releases but almost in spite of their absence. And now that they rejoin us on our home turf, we have the power in our grasp to give it one final surge of love, one last exclamation that, YES, we want to see more music like THIS, not just in Asia or the places that are already tired of it, but in every corner of the planet! We have that one last exclamation that, YES, we DO know what it is and we’d gladly do what it takes to keep it coming for hopefully many more years.
(* – No offense, Sonny! You have plenty of strong tracks! I just don’t think this one was amongst that list.)