“It’s been in the red since the Coronavirus started.” (Kato)

Could you tell us about the current live music venue situation? How is the Loft Project※1 going?

Kato: The second state of emergency has just been declared (January 21st interview date), even before the first state of emergency declared in April last year, the live entertainment industry has been forced to be more self-restrained than any other business.

Taiji: Live entertainment was the first criticized, wasn’t it?

Kato: Yes, and we were the last business to restart.  Live music clubs were allowed to open again following the government guidance on June 19th last year, but adhering to the social distancing guidelines, we could have only 20-30% of customers.  It wasn’t profitable at all, but still we had to open the business and that was tough.  We were allowed to fill 50% of the venue capacity on September 19th, and people started to come back gradually, but then this second state of emergency came on January 7th.  During the first state of emergency, lots of live-goers were supportive and many live music clubs received crowdfunding, with some managing to raise more than 10 million yen, so I heard.

Taiji: Wow, that’s amazing.

Kato: However, everyone is having a tough time now, so I’m sure it will be harder for the second time.

We are having this interview at Shinjuku Loft today. How much is the rent, if you don’t mind me asking?

Kato: 3 million Yen a month.  However, including staff labor, it costs at least 6 million Yen. Before the Coronavirus crisis we made over 10 million Yen every month, but after the first state of emergency, we have been making only 3-4 million Yen, and the business has been in the red.

Umezo Kato

※1 Loft Project……Loft Project Corporation. Started as jazz cafe “Karasuyama Loft” in 1971. Currently, as in March 2021, runs 12 live music clubs centering in Tokyo.

“The government doesn’t think much of musicians and music fans do they? Because music may seem unnecessary and non-urgent?” (Taiji)

The number of audience under the influence of Coronavirus is less than half, so musicians earn less than half the profit.  Live music clubs have to pay their rent but every time they go into the red.  Because of this I made an inquiry to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry if the government could support half of the venues’ rent, but they declined.

Murakami: I know.

On the other hand, with GoTo Travel※2, the tourism industry was supported.  I know tourism is important, but like music, we could also say it is unnecessary or non-urgent.  The reason why tourism is getting support is obviously because the Nikai secretary-general from the Liberal Democratic party has been the chair of ANTA, All Nippon Travel Agents Association.  I can’t help thinking they just gave out money because of the election.

Taiji: If you made the tourism industry unhappy, you wouldn’t earn votes from people at the election.  It’s not because music is unnecessary or non-urgent, but musicians and their fans don’t really matter when it comes to winning elections and were not considered important. What do you think, Mr. Murakami?

Murakami:  I don’t think they made any special treatment for the tourism industry compared to the music industry.  The idea that they enforced Go To Travel, but not Go To Music is a misunderstanding, I think.  They were planning the Go To Event※3 as well as covering some other Music events.  However, the Go To Event was cancelled before it actually started.  Talking about other subsidy matters, J-LODive※4 required corporation class organization, yet small music venue events were also included in the scheme, I think.

Taiji: So they have been taking music seriously as tourism, are you saying?

Murakami: In the case where members of the visual industry are in need and not approved for J-LODive, we may need to investigate these particular cases further.  But from the position of an administrative officer, I have to say that even if in theory budgets are available, sometimes they cannot be executed.  For example, a recent talking point is where there has been a lump sum of 400000 yen for corporations and 200000 yen for small businesses.

Taiji: Yes.

Murakami: In theory we have to give money to those in need, and don’t have to give to those who are making money, but sometimes it is difficult to draw the line of who is making profit or not.  For example, disposable chopsticks makers might have a harder time than restaurants which were forced to temporarily close, even though they are still in business but cannot find clients.  Tokyo hotels under state of emergency are having a tough time, but hotels in Ski resort areas might have an even harder time since there have been not many holiday makers since the Coronavirus crisis started.  It’s very understandable that we have to consider those having a more difficult time, but it’s also very difficult judging people’s level of hardship.

Taiji: I see.

Murakami: For example, the authorities may be less strict about restaurant guidelines so could give music venues the same treatment as restaurants and could get 1.8 million yen subsidy per month.  Some music venues actually have the same certification of restaurants.  The administration decides whether things are executed or not, so it is important to give us a shout and tell us if there are any grey areas, so we can make some specific new guidelines.  I guess it would be important for the music industry to be lobbying, and if they talk about these situations and come up with some particular suggestions, we will be able to reach a solution.

Kato: So far the live music club industry had not done much lobbying, but since the Coronavirus crisis started, we started making more requests to the government.  I met some people from the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and requested a third supplementary budget※5 last week.  They actually listened to my request and I could tell that they did want to do something about it.  The problem is that in February 2020, former Prime Minister Abe answered the Diet with ‘the government won’t compensate for events’.  Since there is no compensation, they are ‘thinking of a grant’.  Lots of people benefit from the support for continuous employment from the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Ministry of Economy and J-LODlive, since their requirements are laxer these days.  I have been benefitting from J-LODlive and they have been helpful.  However, they said ‘no compensation’ from the beginning, fundamentally…

Murakami: For your information, I am one of the people insisting on ‘no compensation’.

All: What!? (LOL)

Murakami: Now we give 60000 yen a day to those restaurants that agreed to a business suspension request, but we’ve been criticized that ‘60000 yen a day is too much.’, since the investigation resulted in the fact that ’70% of them are making a profit.’  However 60000 yen cannot be enough for some people whilst it could provide more income for some people.  The more we discuss this, it becomes impossible to decide how far it goes and what is the appropriate compensation.

Kato: Family run small businesses might be able to make it…

Murakami: If we investigate all the profits they make and decide whether we compensate them or not, I think that would be ideal, but it would take half a year and those small businesses in crisis might just go bankrupt in that time.  We cannot spend that amount of time judging correctly during this state of emergency and compensate for the damage quickly enough.  There is a limit to when we can acknowledge everyone’s income and give the right amount of compensation.  Instead, we need a variety of ideas for how we could help those in need and how we can judge quickly and precisely enough to help them.  For example, we developed a Subsidy Program for Sustaining Business and it compensates the business loss comparing the profit from the equivalent month last year, and we are being criticized for dealing with the matter too slowly.  How can we do this better…?  I know it’s just an excuse.

※2 Go To Travel……A campaign by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism intended to restart the Japanese tourism economy following the damage caused by the Coronavirus.

※3 Go To Event……A campaign by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry intended to demand boosting the Japanese culture, art and sports event following the damage caused by the Coronavirus.

※4 J-LODlive……A Subsidy Project of the Japan Content Localization and Distribution Live Entertainment by The Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO), aiming subsidize the expenses that businesses incur in distributing video clips produced from live performances filmed in Japan to overseas markets.

※5 third supplementary budget……Japanese third supplementary budget 2020.  Budget to fund pandemic support including Containment measures for the Coronavirus and Promoting structural change & positive economic cycles for the Post-Coronavirus era, approved on January 28th.


“We should make the 1 trillion-yen supplementary budget work by trying a variety of new challenges”(Murakami)

European countries have to have certified Public Accountants, and also all tax processing is implemented with an IT system.  All the shops are connected to the administration through accountants, so the administration is able to grasp the monthly situation and deal with the problem quickly.  However, we don’t have that foundation in Japan.  It’s been nearly a year since the WHO Coronavirus pandemic declaration on March 11th 2020.  We have been expecting the government to do something, including developing the infrastructure, but nothing has really been done and we are frustrated.  However, just complaining doesn’t change anything, so I started thinking that what I can do now is to get a public budget for the music industry and do something new, and help save some people.

Murakami: OK, so about that, I’m going to point out a ‘wow’ fact and some kind of fine-sounding thing.  Firstly the ‘wow’ fact: 80% of Japanese small or medium business owners don’t know their monthly sales.

All: Wow!

Murakami: In reality, that’s just the start.  We are asking business owners to submit their monthly sales to apply for the Subsidy Program for Sustaining Business, and lots of people are saying ‘It’s the first time for me to calculate monthly sales.’, ‘It’s great to know monthly sales.’  That’s the reality.  I even think the best thing about the Subsidy Program for Sustaining Business is that now those business owners are grasping their monthly sales and think more about running their business. So there was no data in the world, that’s ‘wow’.

Taiji: How about the fine-sounding thing?

Murakami: 1 trillion-yen budget was approved at the third supplementary budget, so you (the business owners) can get up to two thirds of it, a maximum of 60-million-yen subsidy for business restructuring.  So therefore, I want you to spend this and do something different or something new and challenging.

“It would be nice if you started with the music industry DX.” (Murakami)

So this is the main topic today. I would like to use the 1 trillion-yen supplementary budget for the music industry.  I would like to talk about how we get the budget and help the music industry.  Mr. Murakami will kindly explain the details of the budget.

Murakami: 1 trillion-yen budget was approved in the third supplementary budget of 2021 for business restructuring.  This is for small and medium business owners to restructure their businesses which were damaged from the Coronavirus crisis.  They can get up to two thirds, a maximum of 60-million-yen support subsidy, and we start requesting applications and advertise for it 4 or 5 times every two months.  Once the budget is granted, we expect them to use it within 10 months, maybe a year, that’s the plan.

Taiji: OK something new, so what should we do?

Murakami: Yes, this budget is for restructuring business, so if you keep running a music venue in the same way, you are unlikely to receive the grant.  You need to introduce new technology, a new facility, or come up with a different way that live performance can work.  The venue itself has to do something with a new idea.  I’m not sure if this helps but DX is popular everywhere these days, isn’t it?  So it would be nice if we started music industry DX on this occasion, I suppose.

Taiji: What is DX?

Murakami: DX means Digital Transformation.  Using digital we transform the way we work, then move on.  In other words, we punch a vertical object horizontally.  For example, the car industry and consumer-electronics industry in Japan are a fundamentally vertical sectioning system and parts factories are dependent on big makers.  Even if they make similar products, they don’t know each other, and that they are in different industries.  In Japan they are very good at creating great technology within a company, but if you ask them ‘Can you think of where you could take the technology?’, The answer is ‘I don’t know, we have been like that for a long time’.  In the future it is obvious that the domestic market will diminish since we will have less population, so it would be tough just hanging on to business grouping.  Using digital, working together with people from different groups and creating new chances and possibilities… this is called DX.

Taiji: I see.

Murakami: When they are connected side by side and make investment for both needs, they can apply business restructuring subsidies together.  And each business will be granted 60-million-yen, not as one group.  Swimmy※6 is ideal, lots of small fish swimming together and ‘becoming bigger.’ I think it’s wonderful to create a plan following the same current and then the whole business industry goes in the same direction with each small business using the maximum 60-million-yen.

※6 Swimmy……The name of the main character of picture book “Swimmy” written and illustrated by Leo Lionni

Keisuke Murakami

“New usage for Karaoke Room”(Kato)

One of the ideas is a Karaoke room recycle plan.  I think Karaoke rooms are the most popular and available musical facilities in Japan, and already people have started using Karaoke rooms as a way of viewing live music during the Coronavirus crisis and difficult times for business.  What we are planning to do next is to develop the technology so that when people cheer or clap in a Karaoke room, people in the live music venue can hear them in real time.  We hosted “LIVE FOR NIPPON”※7 with no audience the other day, but unfortunately the musicians couldn’t hear the reactions from the fans.  A system is being developed which is able to hear the cheering of online live performance viewers in Karaoke rooms so it can reach the live performer.  If the whole karaoke industry takes part in it, each business can be granted a maximum of 60-million-yen.  That is a big amount of money and they can do a lot of things, can’t they?

Murakami: Yes, it’s not much merit if it’s just one business, the whole industry needs to get together.

Kato: If four major Karaoke enterprises took part in this, this might be something big.  If you can have a great time in a Karaoke room with your friends, a Karaoke room can be used as something new.

Idol fans might find it fun, for example.  If online live performance tickets sell more, it might help musicians and live organizers get back.  From an audience point of view, it would be more “fun” than watching it on PC, I guess.

Murakami: If we forget the idea of Karaoke, and think of it as a soundproofed room, we can start to imagine what other kinds of services it could provide.  It could be used for online yoga classes, a soundproofed listening room, a music practice studio etc… you could easily come up with more than ten uses of the room, where Karaoke is just one of them.

So, think of how to reuse the space of the Karaoke room.  It’s difficult to play online live performances at high volume when you are at home, especially if you live with elderly or young children.  Also, you cannot jump around if you are living in an apartment, so you can see that Karaoke rooms could be very useful.

Taiji: Is moshing allowed!?

Kato: Virtual mosh! Indeed, it should be OK to make loud noises.  And I also think it is an opportunity for you to go out.  STAYING HOME is important obviously, but some people are becoming depressed, so it is important that we change our environment.

Murakami: It’s very important.  Lots of people work from home, so they can use their commuting time for something else.  How can they make that into a business?  A yoga teacher and a dancer could make a team and exercise together, organizing some dance and yoga classes for beginners, providing affordable lessons.  That is DX, people from different businesses creating new business together.

Kato: That is interesting.

Taiji: I see.  Like Karaoke rooms, music studios are also having a hard time.  It would be nice if they could be reused using a similar system.  And I want to change the name ‘Karaoke’.  I don’t like Karaoke much. (LOL)

Murakami: You can change the name. It’s business restructuring.

※7“LIVE FOR NIPPON thinking about Japan’s tomorrow” ……  A live event started by Taiji Sato immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake.  Holds a monthly talk show/live concert at live music club with guest musician.

“How can we pass on our music industry community to next generation”(Taiji)

Do you have any new ideas Mr. Taiji, organizer of “THE SOLAR BUDOKAN”※8?

Taiji: What I want to have another look at is developing outdoor space for live performance. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, I organized a music festival using solar power “THE SOLAR BUDOKAN” at Nakatsugawa.  Since the Coronavirus crisis, we did a few other non-audience online festivals at some outdoor venues.  Outdoor is not an enclosed space, so it’s not so difficult to plan events.  You are probably able to organize an event in a big space as long as you follow the guidelines.

Kato: I agree.

Taiji: And I think one of the easiest options is to use stage places in parks.  There are lots of them there, even in rather small parks like Inokashira park or Yoyogi park.  You can host an event during the daytime on weekends.  It doesn’t take long to expand outdoor music venues.  I think I would do it when it gets warmer, but I just need to find more venues.  Then book stage crews currently out of jobs and organize events would be the easiest and most effective way, I guess.  And if we can broadcast them online through Karaoke rooms or music studios, I think we are really making something good.  Also, we can name the outdoor live venue, can’t we?  Like Loft is in charge of this stage.

Kato: Loft outdoor?

Taiji: Yes!  Outdoor music venues.  I assume we have a variety of ways to do this.  We cannot build a wall and expect that people nearby would be able to listen to the performance.  I think it’s OK.  I don’t want to build a wall.  The outside audience is listening for free but giving us ‘carrots’ and saying, ‘Your performance was good.’, that’s cool.  People in the neighborhood could come and exchange what they have, it could be money, rice or anything.  I would love to have that kind of local community.  I don’t really admire huge events with massive amounts of money – they cannot keep continuing.  In short, how can we pass on our music industry ‘community’ to the next generation? – that’s what I’d like to talk about.  That’s the thing that matters the most at the end of the day.  Music should be purely about entertaining people, where everybody gets together and has fun together, but that just hasn’t been happening much lately.  But we can do that kind of thing outdoors.  It doesn’t have to be huge, I like it small.  I’d like to make it happen, and I will.

Kato: There are not that many outdoor live music venues in Tokyo such as Hibiya Open Air Concert Hall, Yoyogi Park Amphitheater and Ueno Park Outdoor Stage.

Taiji: Still there are more places we could use.  It’s best to go and ask them if we could have outdoor events.  Then that 60-million-yen can be used to hire event staff for a few years, and the whole situation would start becoming different.  Like, THEATRE BROOK may be playing during the daytime at the weekend.  I think the atmosphere in the city has become different.  Live music doesn’t need to be kept underground.

Everyone should be able to enjoy it, shouldn’t they?

Taiji: Music is nice in any place, really.  It’s natural that cities have music and it’s what makes them fascinating.  In that case, I think outdoor is the best.

Kato: Restaurants have been allowed to keep their business open on the street since the Coronavirus crisis.  I really like it. It’s like European cafe style, it gives some vibes to cities and it’s enjoyable.  It would be great fun if you could have live music in Cinecity Square at Kabukicho every weekend, I guess.

Taiji: Sounds great.  I love it.  I want to see PANTA from Zuno-Keisatsu (Japanese band). (LOL)

Kato: However there is a restriction.  There is a stage in Inokashira Park and we would like to use it, wouldn’t we?

Taiji: You cannot do it there.  Stupid, isn’t it?  Who made that silly restriction?  Some stages are not allowing certain music.  For example, the stage in Yoyogi Park doesn’t allow any loud music, no heavy metal.

Kato: No club music, No dance music. (LOL)

Taiji: Idiots. (LOL)

I would like to ask Mr. Murakami’s opinion.

Murakami: So regarding parks, there are actually lots of those spaces.  However, getting permission to use them is a different matter.  I organize events every year called ‘Soene Akari Park’ with Motoko Ishii, lighting designer.  It’s held in a small stage built near the National Museum in Ueno.  Motoko Ishii was a big help getting the permission to use the space which falls under the jurisdiction of Tokyo Park.  She is a famous artist, known for her work providing the first lighting of Tokyo Tower and also the lighting of the rebuilt Tokyo station.  Because of her, the director of the National Museum and lots of other people supported our event.  So with regards to space, if Mr. Taiji played live music at the maximum volume, everyone might get upset, but he can still work on it gradually, I reckon.

Taiji: It’s important.

※8 “THE SOLAR BUDOKAN” …… Taiji Sato organized a rock festival using solar power in the wake of the nuclear power plant accident, holding the first event at Nippon Budokan in December 2012.  It has since been held in Nakatsugawa City, Gifu Prefecture.http://solarbudokan.com/2020/

【THE SOLAR BUDOKAN 2020】THEATRE BROOK Highlights from DAY 1/2020.09.26  Conducted with prerecorded audience presence and crowdless online live broadcast.

“I want to free music”(Taiji)

Using outdoor space for live music venues is fantastic, it’s great that music fills cities and parks.  However, without the right support, starting a new business is quite difficult to be honest, especially now.  Talking about budget, is there any way each business owner can use it?

Murakami: This is not what people can use immediately, but there is a field of study called Smart City, which put simply, is the digitization of a block of city where lifestyle is redesigned.  To give you an example, it will be difficult if we continue to run public buses the same way in future, since we have less manpower.  So, we could put self-driving buses into the city which would be able to take you to destinations and guide you via AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Taiji: It’s dream future.

Murakami: It’s not a dream future any more technology-wise. And Onsen spas are good for different industry collaborations.

Taiji: What? What?

Murakami: Looking at the results of the recent GoTo Travel campaign, of course there are some people who are using it for business, but I’m amazed that so many people are using it for holiday purposes.  Everyone loves holidays!  Currently we are restricted from going out of the capital area, but I would like to suggest, as an example of regional revitalization, building a ‘music town’ in an Onsen area which would be especially designed for music.  The image is a modern version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  Then it would be interesting to match with Digital shift※9of the town.  It doesn’t have to be digital, but if top musicians get together, I think some cities might be interested in this idea.

Taiji: Bosses of the Onsen industry have been taken over by the younger generation and some people are thinking of renovating the old resorts.  Talking of Onsens, I went to Beppu Onsen last year.  It’s been about 40 years since I last went, and it was great fun.  There was a big sign saying, ‘Free Sex Area’, hooray.

All: (LOL)

Taiji: But music frees our hearts.  Onsen and music are a good combination (LOL).  I would like to make a free music area there.

As a medium-term plan, a free music area where people can enjoy music freely without volume control, is one possibility, I suppose.  So, to set the story straight and summaries our conversation, we are likely to get the budget granted for the new way to use Karaoke rooms, since it is to improve the listening environment for viewers who find it hard to completely enjoy online live music at home.  We might have a good chance of getting the budget for outdoor use music venues, if Mr. Taiji works actively this springtime and gets some followers and builds a scene.  As a medium-term strategy, building a music town is something that could get the granted, but it would not happen that soon.  Are there any other suggestions for how we could use the budget?

Taiji: Online sessions.  I organized an online festival recently, but unfortunately it was a disappointing outcome.  I still find online festivals fascinating, both as a performer and an organizer, but I think I can work on more things to make them better.  However, I guess online live music in general needs to be improved.

I heard you could only sell about 20% of the live tickets for the online festival which you would usually sell for a normal festival, so we must find a way to sell more tickets.

Taiji: So it would be best if we could do online sessions.  It would be great if we could play together with musicians from the US or Brazil.  If we could develop the system which would allow us to play music simultaneously and viewers were able to listen to music from multiple locations at the same time, I think they would like to watch more online live concerts.  It’s just technically not possible yet.

Kato: SYNCROOM※10does a good job for music, but at the moment simultaneous images are quite difficult.

Taiji: True, I tried a remote session with Char (Japanese musician) at “LIVE FOR NIPPON” , Char said to me ‘Taiji, your guitar sounds awful.’ and I gave up.  Still, some overseas musicians took part in the festival by video.  If musicians from North and South America and Europe were able to play together and start playing at the same time after counting ‘1,2,3’, it would be amazing, and I’d love to see it.  It would be great fun.  Everyone would be interested in seeing artists like Yosui Inoue (Japanese musician) and Bob Dylan, or Keisuke Kuwata(Japanese musician) and Mick Jagger play together!

※9 Digital shift……Activity changes company’s business models or organization using digital technology

※10 SYNCROOM……Application developed by YAMAHA which enables people in remote locations play music session simultaneously


“Start from musicians’ creativity and make a new community” (Taiji)

 I would love to see it. We have to wait for that development.  I would like to ask Mr. Murakami, what’s the budget for 2021 that we could use to help the music industry recover?

Murakami: It will return to the usual investment budget, so it would be only 1100 billion yen in total.  It would be rare if they approved 1 trillion yen for one subsidy this time.  And this business restructuring subsidy is very special, not just for the ‘scale’ but also for the fact that it is being left open to private business to decide how it should be used.  A subsidy system like this hardly ever happens.

I see.  It’s a great chance for us to do something.  I hope this interview is helpful to get a variety of ideas.

Kato: Apparently the Japanese cultural-related budget is 1000 billion yen which is one tenth of the French one, and less than half of South Koreans’.  I want this to be an opportunity for them to change.  They spend a big budget on Japanese traditional culture to be exported abroad, they don’t give any budget to my kind of underground music or popular entertainment.  Japan will never have such an internationally successful pop group like BTS from South Korea.  Japan might be left behind, and I’m worried.

Taiji: South Korea totally beats us.

Kato: Mr. Murakami, though you belong to a different Ministry, what do you think about Japanese cultural measures?

Murakami: We have a different structure from France, so it’s not easy to say.  France has a unique culture, for example they have a Ministry of films and they subsidies half of the film making budget.  When it comes to South Korean’s effort of expanding their culture overseas, we totally lost.

Taiji: We lost.

Murakami: It’s just an excuse, but in Japan all industries in the domestic market make a comfortable profit.  But we are more worried about cheaper imported products or illegal products coming to Japan, than expanding our business overseas.  South Korea can’t make a profit just in their domestic market, so they are much more keen to expand overseas.  It’s true, K-POP artists like BTS and other pop idols are very popular, but if I see the general quality of music or variety, that’s all they have.  They don’t have amazing heavy metal bands like us for example.  Whilst Japan has a wide variety of genres of music, we should look for our own approach and not just copy South Korea.  What Japan has to aim for next is to find a new use for music, so it is not left behind in the world.

Taiji: Like Onsen we were talking earlier?

Murakami: Yes, we have a domestic market in Japan which we can start to dispatch.

Taiji: What I think is, (and I’ve been saying this for about 10 years), Japan doesn’t have awards like the Grammys.  The Grammy award decides the ‘Album of the Year’ from all music genres.  So, if one good album becomes popular, other similar ones become popular too.  And it doesn’t just apply to CD or vinyl sales, it leads to live concerts, as well as influencing the Japanese music industry.  The Grammys have such authority, I think we should have ‘Japanese music awards’ or something like that.


Taiji: In Japan we separate Japanese music from western music.  That’s the fundamental mistake.  Music is music.  We have to put them all together on the same shelf as local festival music, underground reggae, hardcore and punk.  If you see Japanese traditional music in that way, Japanese music has potential for growth.  We have something different from the US or Europe, and already some people overseas see that and may copy the music.  Before that happens, we have to show to the world ‘what Japanese music is’ and I think we need to have Japanese music awards in order to do that.  It will help change the current situation.  And us musicians have to work on it.  I’m thinking of organizing the Japan music awards through “SOLAR BUDOKAN” in the future, actually.

Listening to Mr.Taiji’s opinion, it might be a good chance to rebuild this vertical sectioned and closed music industry DX style, I guess.

Murakami: For someone with imagination, the Coronavirus crisis is a great opportunity.  As an administrative officer I shouldn’t say this, but the Coronavirus is a great chance to start something new.  Under normal circumstances, we would be stopped from reconstructing the system in such a bold way, but they cannot do that now.  It’s the best time to connect side to side.  People with amazing plans or ideas will win, so I’m expecting to see artists’ creativity and imagination.

Taiji: You can rely on us for that.  Us musicians might not be good at making money, but many of us are good at coming up with interesting ideas.  Starting with musicians’ creativity, we will connect to different industries and worlds.  If we built a new community, I’m sure John Lennon would be surprised.

From left Taiji Sato, Keisuke Murakami and Umezo Kato

Taiji Sato

Born in Tokushima Prefecture in 1967.  Founded THEATER BROOK in 1986.  Made a major debut in 1995.  Aside from being a member of THEATER BROOK, active as a soloist and in units.

『Do it Anyway you wanna』 People’s choice
『Party down』 Little Beaver
『Mother I’ve taken LSD』 The Flaming Lips

Umezo Kato(CEO of Loft Project)

Born in Aichi Prefecture in 1967. Used to be regular goer of the LOFT, left IT company and joined LOFT as a part timer. After having experienced a variety of positions including a manager of “LOFT/PLUS ONE” in Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku, he’s been in current position since April 2018.

『Question-1 (Live)』 ZELDA
『OMOIDE IN MY HEAD (2000/10/2 Shinjuku LOFT「FANCLUB 8」)』 Number Girl

Keisuke Murakami(General Manager of Management Support Department, Small and Medium Business Administration, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)

Born in Tokyo in 1967. Joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in April 1990. Contributed to IT policy and Cool Japan strategy. Cabinet Secretariat in Cabinet office since 2014, he’s been in current position since July 2020.

Interview by Joe Yokomizo
21st January 2021 at Shinjuku Loft, Tokyo