Happy Birthday: MassiveMusic Tokyo Turns 1

by MassiveMusic



graphic MassiveMusic logo
graphic MassiveMusic logo
graphic MassiveMusic logo

Asia is the world’s third biggest advertising market and it’s reaching a tipping point. That’s why opening a Japanese office in 2017 seemed the right thing to do. Looking back, we were right. This year has been crazy busy for our Massivians in Tokyo. Our long-term dream? To become big in Japan but hey, you got to celebrate every step of the way.

That’s why I sat down with Junya (Managing Director), Rick (Creative Director & Composer) and Tamon (Creative Development Director) to talk about the highlights of our first year together whilst drinking our virtual sake.

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    people at party with red light

“It’s quite rare to see companies with an international mindset in Japan.” That’s what you guys said last year. Is this still the case?

Rick: It was very rare indeed – in fact, MassiveMusic Tokyo was one of the very first international music agencies. Before we opened our office, many of our clients told us that they had to reach out to companies based in other countries. However, things have changed in the last year. I have seen more and more foreign music production companies opening their Tokyo branch lately. I like to think that we started a trend perhaps?

Junya: Many clients want to work with foreign music agencies because there is this idea that Western companies have higher standards when it comes to music and sound. At the same time, they also need someone who totally understands the local market and the Japanese way of working. We can be both global and local, depending on the project – and this is our biggest strength I believe.

If you had to explain Japanese advertising in three words, what would they be?

Junya: More, Music, Budget. People need to reconsider how important the role of music for advertising is. It evokes emotions, it helps convey the message, it triggers recall. Not everyone understands that making music – especially music with the purpose of supporting and elevating a specific campaign, is a very intense process which, as a consequence, has a fee.

Rick: Circle Of Trust. In Japan, it’s extremely important to get to know each other in order to earn people’s trust.

Tamon: Quick, Precise, Wicked.

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    people posing in front of MassiveMusic logo

You guys worked on some amazing compositions since April last year. What is your personal top 3?

Rick: My absolute favourite is Toyota Cubic Card. A story about ordinary life at its finest. A young couple expecting their first son – something I can relate to, and seeing him growing up, meeting his partner and repeat what his parents have done before him. So simple yet so relatable and effective.

Sony Trialog, which is a bit more recent, is also in my top 3. This was a short videoclip played at the Sony’s event during SXSW 2018. I wrote the song and collaborated with Cece Wyldeck-Estrada and Isabelle Hauschildt, from our Amsterdam office.

The third one has to be Pokken. I grew up playing Pokemon so taking part in this project was a big thing for me.

Tamon: I have to agree with Rick on Sony and Toyota Cubic Card. I also loved Iroha Zen, really one of a kind.

JunyaFlystation is definitely on the podium. Rick did a great job to create this epic piece. Because of that, we were nominated at AdFest 2018 in the Film Craft category for Original Music Score. But also Sony RX0 – which I am really proud of.

Last but not least Parco_ya, simply because I really like the composition. Our composer Masahiro Araki did a great job to make this beautiful song. The track is playing everyday at the Parco_ya department store, so every time a customer decides to visit (s)he is actually listening to our music. We’ve recently done another project for Parco_ya Beauty Shops and it’s nicely done as well.

Lovely! If I have to pick one project I think I would go for 1964 Tokyo VR, the one about the upcoming Olympic Games in 2020. It was one of those perfect occasions where we blended our local global creativity.

Rick: This project was awesome. Good vibes, good pictures.

JunyaJapanese composers, Massivians and our network all perfectly combined.

Tamon: True that. I think we will be seeing more Olympic related projects in the near future.

As for the network you just mentioned, how do you nurture your connections in the Japanese market?

Rick: Everybody already knew who MassiveMusic was because of our Cannes parties. They just couldn’t really reach out to us because of the language barrier and time differences. This explains why the new office was a really convenient move for the Asian market.

Tamon: Actually, this is a very complicated question to answer because it varies a lot, depending on the connection. To me, the most important aspect is to be flexible and adapt yourself to each situation you’re in.

Junya: For example, once in awhile, we make sure to throw a party or casual drinks at the office. It’s also the perfect occasion for us to decompress a little. Plus, everyone seems to like it.

Well, you definitely win the selfie game at Massive. Do you always take one whenever a client comes to visit you at the office?  

Rick: Hell yes. Not just clients but also musicians, singers, even random friends who come to grab a coffee. The idea started because we wanted to make our guest’s experience as friendly as possible, not just a work thing. We’re people interacting with people, after all.

Japanese people are known for their shy personality but I think it’s a perfect way to break the ice. And I mean, who doesn’t like selfies?

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    men and woman playing babyfoot

Not to mention you know how to strike a pose. What was the most challenging project you’ve worked on so far and why?

Rick: The new campaign by Frisk was an interesting one. It’s a short online movie about concentration at work. One colleague can’t focus anymore because he’s worried about his bad breath, whereas the other just simply can’t focus at all. Mr. L & Mr. R have a different story but they both link when you play the two videos at the same time. Musically, we did the same. The second video has a different track but, when you play them side by side, they sync and create a harmony. The challenge was to come up with a piece of music that could stand alone when played as a single track, as one side of the story.

Junya: We also worked on a project for BOSE speakers. We recorded several vocals in different genres, all destined to one single song. If you add that we also had to make a Japanese AND a Chinese version, well – that sounds like challenging indeed. But also lots of fun.

And the memory or moment you’re most proud of?

Rick: When one of our regular clients told us: “You know, just do the usual, that awesome thing”.

Tamon: Or when they say that we throw the best party in town.

Junya: Believe it or not, to me it all comes down to that selfie moment. It means that everything has been finalised and everyone is happy with the result.

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    men posing energetically

What does the future hold for MassiveMusic Tokyo?

Rick: Every day we’re getting one step closer to our ultimate goal: world domination. Haha.

Tamon: Sounds like a plan to me.

Junya: Live happily ever after, with great music as a soundtrack. And cold beer.

Photo 1: MassiveMusic Tokyo: 1st anniversary party – Stuz Photography
Photo 2: Dentsu Creative x Team
Photo 3: Shuhei Hosokawa, Futoshi Takashima, Kaori Sato, Motoki Ohishi
Photo 4: Masato Goto, Shinsuke Jitsumori