Made In Japan Vinyl Album

Nov 26, 2021

Whilst it’s no surprise that the last 18-months have been tough for many parts of the music industry - the ‘live entertainment’ sector perhaps being the most obvious - it hasn’t been all gloom and doom for the music-manufacturers of the world. Between January - June 2021, vinyl sales increased 108.2% from the previous year, from 9.2 million units in Q1/Q2 2020 to 19.2 million units in Q1/Q2 2021. In short - vinyl is back and, perhaps, it never left us.

Back in November 2020, I wrote about ‘Made In Japan’: Syn’s collection of contemporary Japanese music, inspired by our home-town of Tokyo. As the vinyl sales of 2021 (clearly) amassed, so did a serious back-log in production of 12” vinyl - with orders for vinyl manufacturing taking up to 9-months to be processed and delivered. Despite the challenges above, and working closely with North (Syn’s long-time design collaborators based in London), we are thrilled to announce that ‘Made In Japan’ has made it on to 12” vinyl.

To recap - ‘Made In Japan’ is Syn’s collection of contemporary Japanese music - from Indie-Rock to Hip-Hop, Shakuhachi to Koto - and is available for placement in Film, TV, Advertising and Gaming. Since it’s announcement in 2020, tracks from this unique catalogue collection have made their way onto the likes of Marvel’s ‘Hit Monkey’ (on Hulu), BBC Film’s ‘’People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan”, Amazon Japan’s ‘Holiday Campaign’, EA Games ‘Sims 4’ and many more. In short - ‘Made In Japan’ was born in Tokyo, but is now populating the airwaves around the world via placements in Film, TV, Gaming and advertising - but what’s the history of these kinds of collections of licensable music?

Music created solely for licensing in film, TV and advertising has had many names. ‘Stock Music’, ‘Library’, ‘Production Music’ - all of these terms have developed something of a bad-name, perhaps partly tarnished by the overwhelming volume of this music now cheaply available to us all via online marketplaces. Its origins go back to the 1920s, when low-cost, pre-recorded music was considered as an alternative to live accompaniment for the silent movies of the day. Fast forward 40-years to the 1960s (and with help from the technological advances in recording and mass-production of vinyl), we see a golden age of ‘library music’ emerging alongside the film, TV and advertising industries of the day. These non-commercially released collections were composed and performed by leading musicians of the day, often recorded live with limited overdubs, and they provided visual media with an array of audio for cost-effective licensing. It’s an almost certainty that you’ve heard examples of these tracks in the classic films of cinema’s ‘Golden Age’, but where are they now?

Given these vinyl collections were never available for commercial purchase (i.e. you wouldn’t find them at your local record shop), they’ve become something of a record-collectors dream. Respected collections from the likes of KPM (now owned by Sony Music Publishing, but with origins in the 1830s as an instrument manufacturer and music publisher) and Music De Wolfe are highly sought after, and these early collections consist of high-quality, highly licensable tracks from the era. It’s worth mentioning that these early collections (notably from KPM) often utilised cutting-edge technology of the day, and many of these tracks were recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios (Where ‘The Beatles’ famously recorded most of their work).

Whilst production music giants such as KPM have in excess of 43,000 tracks, Syn’s approach to ‘Made In Japan’ was born from a desire to create a highly-bespoke and authentic ‘boutique’ collection, placing craftsmanship and expertise at the centre of the production process. But why keep it in the digital realm only? Modern music supervisors and editors almost exclusively work from digital music playlists - hosted on platforms such as ‘Disco’ or ‘SourceAudio’ - but our commitment to ‘Made In Japan’ has gone beyond believing in it simply as a music licensing tool.

Syn’s long-time collaborator and design partner based in London, ‘North’, developed artwork for ‘Made In Japan’ that perfectly captures this passion for craftsmanship and attention to detail. With a striking circular composition in ‘Syn Green’, recalling images of Japan’s ‘Rising Sun’, and an eye-catching mosaic-like pattern, the artwork delivers the collection with integrity. The rear sleeve of the 12” vinyl features descriptions of each track - including BPM (Beats Per Minute) and emotional descriptions of each track - written in both English and Japanese (a nod to the production music collections of the past, that would feature similar text). Wrapped around the spine of the sleeve, you will find an ‘Obi’ (literally, ‘Belt’ in Japanese). This traditional feature of Japanese records (and CDs, in fact) is something of an homage to Syn’s homeland and would historically be used to localise imported records into Japan, and would feature translations of the track-listing, as well as other promotional information.

Whilst the world continues to pivot further into the digital world - with virtual events, virtual drinks, virtual festivals fast becoming the norm - Syn has been determined to mark this collection of music with a physical manifestation; something you can hold in your hand and play at home. It’s no coincidence that this collection also coincides with Syn’s 30th anniversary, and we hope that this ‘Made In Japan’ vinyl will find a home in the record collections of our clients and friends.