Apryl Peredo: Managing domestic and international artists in Japan
In this International Spotlight feature, Evan Murray talks to Apryl Peredo, an artist manager based in Tokyo Japan as she throws light on the artist management and festival market in Japan.
Apryl Peredo holds a bachelor's degree in Philosophy and Sociology with a minor in Music Business from UNT in Texas, an MBA in Strategic Leadership, and M.Ed in Secondary Education, also from Texas based universities, and a Professional Certificate in “Lyric Writing” from Berklee. She has worked as a radio DJ, sound engineer for both live and studio sessions. Currently she works mainly in the field of artist development as well as tour management. In addition, she serves as Music Supervisor for various film and video projects. Most recently, she served as music supervisor for the indie film Kita No Hou E - To The North which is currently being sent to film festivals around the world.
She often guests at both Anime Conventions and Music Conferences around the world, speaking on anime music evolution, Japanese music industry and scenes, and general development advice for artists, depending upon request.
Please tell us about your company and its role.
I started and run two music oriented agencies, both based in Tokyo Japan. 'Inter Idoru Artist Management' and 'Fuchsia'.
Fuchsia presents and provides quality Japan-based performers to anime conventions, video game conventions, and Japan Expo style events globally. While predominantly working with modern music singers, bands, and solo musicians, such as those with known music, that are on anime or game soundtracks, we also connect events with traditional artists such as shamisen or taiko players, calligraphy (shodo) artists, paper-cutting (kirie) artists, and similar. For this, we do a bit of outreach to events in various countries and let them know if they are looking for a performer for their upcoming events. As well, events do contact us directly, asking for performance fees and conditions for a variety of artists, from an indie artist with 2 songs on a Super Mario game soundtrack being their only foot in the anime/game world to an arena-filling artist with multiple anime soundtrack albums.
Inter Idoru Artist Management is artist development, management, and touring. As with most artist development agencies, the work is aimed at local/domestic artists and working out their goals, steps, and activities towards domestic growth. With that also comes many domestic (Japanese) artists wanting to dabble in overseas markets and audiences and thus overseas touring, as a means of not only sharing their music but collaborating with musicians from other cultures and backgrounds.
Originally I was only working with domestic artists, but by taking them overseas, it grew into overseas artists wanting to come to Japan contacting me - so I began coordinating regular live house (small to mid-size music venue) showcase tours for bands from outside Japan. Some only want a 1 or 2 time showcase tour for their own personal growth or tour vlogs, musical resume. Others also want actual development services for growth in this market. I also put together and manage ensemble bands for overseas performers who don’t want to bring a band but do want to perform their Japan tour with a band.
For both companies, I do the bulk of the work needed for my side. All the planning, the artist contact for development sessions, the management contact (when hunting artists for anime events), the scheming on how to promote. I do have a part-time assistant that does some of the admin work but for the most part, I run the two agencies by myself - partnering or collaborating with other professionals such as venue family regional managers, small and major label reps, event organizers, ticketing agents, composers, festival managers, PR people, publishers; based on project type and project need.
10% of all my income from these agencies goes to charitable and non-profit causes. I also donate a certain amount of time to such projects. Currently I am working on putting together a compilation album of music from Burmese artists - multiple genres from traditional to rock, pop, punk - to be digitally released in Japan with proceeds going to a trusted social project in Myanmar.
Tell me a bit about yourself. Help us understand how you got to where you are now.
When I lived in the US, I worked in the music industry for about 6 years - mainly in radio as well as being a festival coordinator - before changing career fields. Spent time working as a social worker, a banker, a securities broker, and an educator.
In Japan, I have been working in the industry for about 8 years. I had not lived here long when a new friend told me they were in a band and struggling as they weren’t sure how to plot a direction, they felt they weren’t having any success, and had no idea of what to do. I got some more information from him, thought about it, gave him some advice. They tried it, it worked, and they started coming to me and asking me for more assistance and support. It grew from there.
From light advice, it developed to me sitting down with bands and mapping out strategies from proper live performance scheduling to merch table setup, to goals on entering small festivals and options for distribution. Things just grew and grew. Word of mouth got me overseas bands coming to Japan. Same for domestic - sometimes labels or managers of larger artists or venue managers I’ve worked with will refer artists to me.
I decided it would be best to form a management agency to put this type of work under and went for it. I do have a strong desire to help bands grow and especially Japanese artists. I think that Japanese modern music has been and is maligned or dismissed often on a global stage as being novelty acts, artificial rock copying Western rock. I’m hoping to be some part of helping artists change that perception overseas as well as to themselves.
Who are some of the acts you work with? What countries are they from? Can you explain the process of how you select artists to work with?
This is a tough question for me as I work with artists everyday - most of them indie or small label bands that wouldn’t have big name recognition outside their fan circle or home region. When I work with larger artists, those are often one-off projects in promotion, consulting for overseas markets, or even fixing their English lyrics.
I have done a promotion project for Miyavi in the past, booked TMR, Back-On, JAM Project, and Kei Takebuchi (Goosehouse) at overseas events. I’ve also worked with overseas artists such as The Last Internationale (US) and Bars & Melody (UK) on Japan performances. In fact, I’ll be overseeing regional coordination of their (Bars&Melody) Asian tour in 2021. The plan is Japan, The Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand. I did some consulting tasks for Slot Machine (Thailand) and Hujan (Malaysia) when they were considering tours of Japan.
When it comes to domestic bands wanting development and management, I spend time observing them. Usually about 3-4 months after they contact me, I spend time going to their shows, watching, checking their online activity, listening to their music, meeting and just listening to their ideas. I generally only work with bands that have been together at least 18 months, preferably longer. I like to see that they have made some of their own attempts at booking shows, releasing music, social media engagement. I don’t like to start from Ground Zero with a band because in those cases, you sometimes end up with bands who break up quickly or assume they don’t actually have to do any work but show up at a gig. A manager or development person is part of a band team, not the person dragging them along to success.
As for overseas artists, their initial need is usually just a showcase foundation tour. I tend to work with any artist that asks for that first tour. I plot and book the tour, give them some basics tools or guides to use to promote the tour and themselves here, including translations of promo blurbs and bios. And then I see how it goes. Do they make attempts to promote? Do they show up at venues on time and make efforts to network with other bands, chat with venue staff, work their merch table? I check with venues post-show to get their opinion on the bands performance, audience reaction, and their honest feeling on the members, etc.
Some bands only want that 1 tour - their “We went to Japan” experience. That’s fine. Other bands want to return. This is where I put more thought in to working with them or not. If they are really just doing “hobby tours” or mostly just want to hang in the expat music scene, then it isn’t really my desired activity - so I just give them some names of expat event organizers or English fluent venue managers that run light events, and set them free. I’m more interested in bands who have more desire to grow in the Japanese market. If they are such a band, then I press for more social media promo, inquire on small label or distro for them, look into collaboration shows or projects for them.
Bars and Melody (UK). Pic from Facebook.
What do you think the future holds after the Covid-19 restrictions?
I see a lot of managers and organizers or music journalists just filled with gloom and doom - saying the scene will be irreparably changed forever! Sort of sitting under gray rain clouds. I tend not to think that way - really about anything. Even in the best of times, people proclaim “The music industry is the worst ever, there are not good bands anymore, no quality band can achieve success” and various other negative statements. I just nod my head “Uh huh, I see” and move along with the assumption that it can be done, that things are workable. Same for this.
This downtime has been a boon for some artists. They spent time writing and practicing new material. They decided to up their social media game. They sent out email newsletters to fans.
What does the future hold for those bands? My thinking is that those bands have booked shows for late fall or winter or into next spring and will be able to hit the stage with exciting new material and an appreciation for more fan and audience interaction.
Now, as for online streaming and virtual concerts - it isn’t a new thing. I’ve known bands that have done Youtube or Showroom online concerts every few weeks or months for years. Bands that do Youtube live chats with fans and have done so long before Covid-19. What comes from the current situation is that more bands found out it is a viable tool in their artist toolbox.
My hope would be that artists who overplay their local market may do better booking - fewer shows in local area but add shows virtually either for any audience or targeted outside audiences. Do Zoom chats with super fans. Do specialty acoustic park concerts via online streaming. Actually engage on social media rather than just posting a selfie and a hashtag.
I think depending on opening situations and if there is a return wave of Covid-19, maybe we will see artists that have been doing only large venue shows, deciding to do smaller venue shows, more like specialty clubs - rather than one 600 person show that night, a 250 pp show at 7 and another 250 pp show at 9.30. I know there are audience members that would possibly pay more to see their favorite artist in a smaller “up-close” setting and avoid the larger shows. (Up-close being less crowded, not necessarily closer than 2 meters!)
Still from the movie 'Kita No Hou E - To The North'
Are there any other projects or festivals you are involved in?
I’m trying to put together the Myanmar compilation as mentioned earlier.
I finished a film project as music supervisor and am now considering taking on two new short film projects as music supervisor.
I put together a small consortium of creatives (animators, set and fashion designers, script writers, actors, videographers, physical artists) and we are trying to grow it - goal is to put together some multimedia shows encompassing short plays, music, animation for live showing or filming for web series. The scheme is to bring together people in all ages and experience levels.
As for festivals, I do submit to the larger festivals, but I’m very leery of submitting as I hate to use my “submission credit” as it were for a band with only 250 fans in their home country. I get that a lot….a US or AU band with 300 fans at home wants me to submit them to FUJI ROCK or some other huge festival. Those festivals arent showcases and the main lineup is a set festival circuit lineup touring globally plus some of the more famous domestic bands. To try to submit an unknown foreign act...that act should be very well-known in their home base and it should be an artist I've worked with for some time and feel confident in championing.
Actually, there is a new annual Tokyo-based festival - put on by a known band that runs 3 venues. Its a 2 day, 3 venue, noon til 11pm event. Their 2nd occurrence was shortly before shutdown. Just by happenstance, I was able to put a couple of the overseas touring bands I was working with at the festival and it worked nicely. The organizer would like the festival to be more showcase and international - a healthy combination of domestic bands with some local fans to pull people in with a nice addition of overseas bands. Scheme might be a 70% domestic, 30% overseas idea. I’m in talks with the organizing band as they need a person with overseas connections to help spread the word.
Are there any other companies you work with or you would recommend for artists to check out?
The list would be too long if I truly got started. I’ll leave it with - check out the label P-Vine as they have a pretty cool roster of artists. They like domestic and overseas artists that have a foot in “mainstream” but with various unique factors that set them apart from the other usual artists. I sometimes do tours for their artists or ask P-Vine to consider taking on an artist I work with.
EVAN MURRAY is Event Co-ordinator at Live at Heart, Newfoundland, Export Development Officer at Vision 360 (Canada) and Canadian Coordinator at Live at Heart, Sweden. He is also International Music Consultant at Wonderwall Media, India.