Ok, let’s say you’ve just got back from Hyper Japan and you’ve now fallen in love with a band or artist and you’ve got no idea where to find their music online. After the panic sets in, you immediately turn to Google. You locate the bands website (with a little help from Google Translate) but the postage costs and the 2-3 week shipping may dampen your spirits. Where do you turn to next? Well, hopefully we can help!
Below is our current list (to which we’ll be adding to if we find any other sources) of the best ways to locate your favourite Japanese artists online.
I have to admit, I’m a little bias towards Spotify. Ever since my iTunes account decided to stop recognising my actual album covers and losing individual tracks, the thought of a simple online playlist won me over in an instant. I’ve been using Spotify for about two years now but only just started to dig away and see how many diverse Japanese artists I could actually find. As expected the results did vary but a few I did mange to find included: Ilu Grace, BabyMetal, Vamps, [Alexandros] & Taffy. The bonus here (like Apple Music) if you already own the CD, you can import the tracks and save them for offline mode. If you’re feeling lucky, there are a number of ‘J-POP’ playlists that others have created that will save you time searching. The only annoying factor is you might be able to locate the artist you’re looking for but for one reason or another, they’re music is not available either on Spotify or in your region.
At this point you may want to make the most of the ‘3 month free trial’ that Apple are currently offering new users while they try to sneak your business away from their online competitors. If you’re used to Spotify, the layout won’t daunt you too much, although it does look like Apple have gone out of their way to compact as many features as possible into one app. The misleading part of Apple Music is that you assume that ‘whatever I find in the Itunes Store will be available in ‘Apple Music’, not so! For example, we tried to locate Scandal’s ‘Hello World’ album. We found the album available to buy from Itunes Store but it’s not part of Apple Music’s current catalogue. That being said, they do have six of the albums and an EP available, so it’s not all bad news! With the Apple branding and reputation, it’s a lot easier to track down your favourite artists and there’s more chance they will allow their music onto Apple Music compared to other streaming sites. There’s also the bonus of saving your playlists for offline mode but will you find that Spotify may have artists you’re looking for where Apple Music might be lacking and vice versa.
These guys are doing a fantastic job showcasing the best of Japanese music with their online webstore. Based in London, the stock is already in the UK so you won’t have to wait long until your new purchase will fall through your letterbox. (I ordered Scandal’s ‘Hello World’ and received my CD the next day!) Their current store includes releases from: The Gazette, Spyair, Scandal, Polysics, Ling Tosite Sigure & Boom Boom Satellites. I’m always happy to support independent stores, so I will always try one first if I can’t find the album via Spotify / Apple Music in the first instance.
Quite possibly one of the largest marketplaces you’ll find on the web. If Amazon doesn’t have it in stock, they’ll usually reach out to one of their many European warehouses to fulfill your order. You might find the album you’re looking for but that could also include a wait of 12-14 days, depending on where the stock is located. I’ve never had a problem with Amazon or lost orders, so if you can save a few pounds and wait a little longer than normal, this could be a valid option.
- CD Japan – Updated 24.08.15
If you’re looking for that limited edition or a brand new release, CD Japan has you covered. The best part is they’ll show you the price you’ll pay from a selection of currencies; from the British Pound (GBP) to the Russian Ruble (RUB). They’ll also show you a breakdown of the postage options and costs, ranging from £4 – £14. I haven’t used the site personally but I’ve read great reviews, it’s just that waiting time for delivery you might have to contend with. There’s always a faster (but more expensive) delivery option for those that can’t wait!
Since writing our original article we have ordered three separate CD’s and we can confirm the site is as easy to navigate as Amazon! CD Japan is in English which features a great price converter, so you’ll know exactly how much to pay! You’re even given a postage price list; we recommend the ‘SAL small packet’ option. This only takes on average of just over a week (states 1 – 3 on the website). Upon arrival, the CD’s are well packed in bubble wrap and purchasing direct from Japan does have it’s advantages! We ordered a few CD’s recently that also came with trading cards only available with the Japanese release. If that wasn’t enough, you also receive points on every purchase which you can save up and get your next CD a little cheaper!
How do you access music from your favourite Japanese artists? Let us know in the comments below!