With offices and employees spread across the globe, sometimes it takes time to get to know everyone. In our series ‘What The #&@$ Do You Do?!’ (WTFDYD), The Orchard highlights Orchardites from all over the world to learn more about their role at The Orchard and experience working in the music industry.
Futaba, tell us about what the *&^# you do!
I am a Senior Manager of Digital Sales and Marketing for The Orchard Japan, which launched in Tokyo in May 2019. I am in charge of promoting artists and implementing strategies by communicating with DSPs and music labels, and working together with Sony Music Entertainment Japan. My team and I brainstorm new and creative plans by identifying trends and optimizing marketing campaigns.
How does your role / department fit into The Orchard?
The Orchard empowers both artists and labels to connect with new markets, both local and global. My role is to support Japanese artists and help them make it big both here and abroad.
To simply describe my digital sales and marketing role, I pitch Japanese artists to Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and other local DSPs in Japan. I also collaborate with my colleagues overseas by introducing Japanese talents with great potential and work on promoting them globally. And vice versa, I receive information on international artists and promote them in Japan. I make sure that these three main tasks get done both efficiently and effectively.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
One thing I work on with my team is getting our Japanese artists internationally renowned. We start by reaching out to our global colleagues to make our Japanese artists get recognized in their respective territories. We receive excellent responses and encouragement and then relay them to the labels, management, and especially to the artists. This sense of accomplishment is one of the things I like in my job.
What’s a campaign/project you are proud to have worked on?
One of the projects I am proud of is YOASOBI making it big by securing the No.1 spot on Billboard Japan’s Hot 100 of the Year in 2020. It goes without saying that the artists and their music are great, but the fact that we were able to accomplish such a remarkable feat with a small team in a short period was the best practice for us. YOASOBI, who is a big success in Japan, have just taken the first step to extend their reach globally. We are actively working on getting ready for what the future brings.
How did you first get started in the music industry?
I listen to music like any average listener does everyday, but it is more than that for me. I have always been an avid listener since I was a teen. I would read liner notes while listening to R&B and Hip-Hop every chance I could. I got into reading articles about music and became a big fan of a particular writer, who later became a well-known music producer.
On one fateful day, I had the opportunity to meet him in person. It became the most significant moment in my life because I was inspired to be a part of the music industry. I did what I could to be good at it. I majored in Music Business at a university in New York. After returning to Japan, I got my first job at Blue Note Tokyo. After that, I joined Universal Music and worked for physical sales promotion and digital marketing. Seven years later, I moved to Warner Music. They made me the Director for Classical Music, a position that I hadn’t had any experience before. I am so grateful that I took the challenge. The things I learned have helped me immensely to this day.
What advice do you have for independent artists / those who want to break into the industry?
I believe that the music industry is in a transitional period, especially in Japan. It is essential to learn new digital knowledge, be open to change, and be bold in taking on challenges. Sometimes, we also need the courage to unlearn and relearn our experiences and practices. These are necessary for anyone working in the music industry, including artists.
What artist have you been listening to on repeat lately?
There are too many to mention, but YOASOBI, whom I cannot stop talking about because of their recent massive success, is on loop repeatedly. They are THAT addictive! I also like the new Japanese artist called Doul with her latest single, “Howl.” I am keeping an eye on her upcoming releases.
At the end of the day, I listen to R&B and Hip-Hop, whether old or new. I will never get tired of listening to D’Angelo, Fugees, Arrested Development, A Tribe Called Quest, and Musiq Soulchild.
Sometimes, I listen to Korean R&B and Hip-Hop for long periods. Recently, I have DPR LIVE, HYUKOH, and Epik High playing in the background during work. Finally, I make sure that I check out my favorite playlists on Spotify, such as Monday Spin, Edge!, and Tren Chill K-R&B.
What’s your favorite thing about working at The Orchard?
One word: People! My team and I work with international teams in different parts of the world, but it feels like we work at the same place. This encourages us to be diligent. We are a small team, but we act and make calls fast.
I love working here because we have a sense of urgency and do not miss out on any opportunity. And above all, all of my colleagues are always dedicated and motivated. I get inspired to work harder every day thanks to them.
Favorite tradition at The Orchard?
The Tokyo office has yet to turn two this year, as it was launched in 2019. Due to COVID-19, I have yet to experience many of The Orchard’s traditions. One of them that I look forward to is participating in the Global Summit, where all colleagues worldwide gather at the New York office in December each year.
How do you discover new music?
Firstly, we have a lot of comprehensive information on new music at The Orchard daily, so I often come across several songs that capture my imagination. Secondly, music that colleagues overseas recommend, which is one of the pleasures I enjoy. Most importantly, Spotify’s and Japan’s local DSP AWA’s recommendation feature is excellent.
What’s something you’ve learned outside of work that helps you to be your best self at work?
Effective communication is what I hold dear. Our industry makes full use of many of the most advanced and most remarkable digital technologies. At the end of the day, although essential, they are just tools. The content we are dealing with is created by people who put their heart into it. It is only fair that we should also put our sincere efforts into conveying it.
I have learned a lot, especially while traveling, the importance of meeting people, learning how to interact, making meaningful connections, and creating opportunities. Speaking of which, don’t we all miss it? I sincerely hope that the days of traveling free from one country to another will return.