What Fuji Keiko's Daughter is Up to in America


According to Soundscan, Utada’s American debut album Exodus sold 7,105 copies in the United States in its first week. More than I would have imagined, but barely enough to cover the ¥200 million that Shukan Bunshun reports it cost to make the album.

Oh wait, things are not so dire: The album shipped 500,000 copies to Japan! So, this was all a gyaku-yu’nyuu marketing scheme!

I would expect the sales to go down from the first week unless MTV picks up the video or positive word-of-mouth somehow spreads. But again, it doesn’t matter how much it sells in the US, because the American release was just a part of the marketing plan for the Japanese release — which was profitable.

Seeing that Japanese ex-pats Cibo Matto sold around 150,000 copies of Viva la Woman and that indie stars Cornelius and Pizzicato Five both sold around 75,000 of their albums in America, I would hope that someone starts to put two and two together that 1) the content quality of J-Pop is low when viewed on an international stage and 2) if you’re going to export music to America, it has to be a unique product offering in a market with un-satiated demand.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
October 14, 2004

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

4 Responses

  1. fan of japan Says:

    important to note here is that this effectively was a massive label swindle, where universal music/island records was able to steal away toshiba-EMI’s biggest artist, simply by having her drop her first name and sing in english. universal knew that even singing in english utada’s release would be a massive hit in the japanese market, sot ehre was 0 risk ont eh project. All tehy had to do was put minimal just-for-show-level effort into “making her big in america”, just enough to generate a press story for japanese fans back home.

  2. trevor Says:

    and, i know people do it.. but who spends 1.8 million dollars on making a CD? i mean, thats just crazy!
    even if you hired a full orchastra.. then flew them to another country.. then recorded 62 tracks to 3 synced 24 track 2″ struder tape machines..
    then dubbed an extra 62 tracks. to have 124 channels to mix..
    for a money / reality check.. you can hire steve albini, and record in his studio, with him as the engineer. for 800$ a day. thats 24,000 a month. [well for 30 days actualy. ]
    anyways.. no wonder the music industry is falling on itself all over the planet.

    as a sad extra note.. as its told, on an average backstreet boys song.. there is somewhere from 80-100 tracks of vocals alone.. that just seems inain!!

  3. marxy Says:

    i think that 1.8 million included promotion, the payoffs to Timbaland etc, and Utada paying herself, no?

  4. keith Says:

    …and, by the way, the album really, really stinks. Way below the efforts on her Japanese discs. They’ve tried to turn her into Britney; she might be better as an Alanis.