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July - September 1997

Music Production

The most successful music producer in Japan is a multi-talented man who is also Japan's top recording artist and a writer of music and song lyrics. His name is Tetsuya Komuro.

Komuro made his debut in 1984 as part of a three-man pop music group called TM NETWORK (TMN). On the side, he produced music for many female Japanese pop singers. When TMN broke up in 1994, Komuro became a full-time music producer.

The singers and musicians whose work Komuro has produced are known as the "Komuro Family." Almost every artist in the Komuro Family has had a million-selling hit. Komuro himself is also a member of a music group, globe. Their first album sold 4.55 million copies in 1996. That makes it the biggest-selling album ever in Japan. The total album sales of the Komuro Family last year were over 55 billion yen (that's over 460 million U.S. dollars).

Komuro makes artists into superstars by getting their music a lot of exposure in popular TV shows and commercials. One member of the Komuro Family is Namie Amuro, a female singer who is especially popular with junior-high and high-school students. Amuro is so popular that many Japanese teenage girls spend a great deal of time and money trying to imitate her look. And Komuro is at least partly responsible for creating that image. Many other musical talents in the Komuro Family are also wildly popular with the teenage crowd. These artists include Tomomi Kahala, hitomi, and TRF.

Komuro's songs have their own special sound. They have a fast beat that is created by playing back sounds from a computer. Their melodies and words are catchy. And they are sung by female singers. The techno-beat of the songs creates a cheerful mood and an urban sound, which is loved by many fans.

Many Japanese artists are now performing in other countries, mostly in Asia. Namie Amuro has become popular in Taiwan, globe in Hong Kong, and Nanase Aikawa in Thailand. The Komuro Family held a concert in Taipei in May 1997. Although audiences in Taiwan do not usually stand up during a concert, the Taipei crowd stood up and cheered for the Komuro Family's finale.

Tetsuya Komuro is involved in other projects too. At the end of 1996, Komuro and The News Corporation Ltd. got together and formed a company called TK NEWS to develop and promote Asian artists and produce their music. (The News Corporation is headed by Lachlan Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.) Komuro was also in charge of creating the theme music for the movie SPEED 2, which was shown in theaters across the United States in the summer of 1997. No doubt about it--you'll be hearing Tetsuya Komuro's name again.

Photo: Tetsuya Komuro (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)