The music industry both at home and abroad is rallying to raise funds for disaster-hit areas in the northeast of the country. Though it’s perhaps easy to be cynical about the motivations of artists to get involved with good causes, Japan’s disaster victims indisputably need the funds, as well as the morale boost that comes from knowing that music fans across the globe are digging deep to support them in their time of need.
One of the most heart-warming stories to come out of the domestic music scene was news that Johnny’s Jimusho would be lending their trucks to the relief effort. Cancelling all performances for the month of March, the agency’s pretty boys were instead loading up trucks to be sent north. Stars like Hideaki Takizawa helped to load the trucks with much needed relief supplies that included items like toilet paper and antiseptic. Johnny’s acts are also working on a special CD whose proceeds will be donated to a tsunami relief charity.
Across the Pacific Ocean in the U.S., a who’s who of top pop and rock icons took part in the “Songs For Japan” charity album project. Now available on iTunes for $9.99, artists on the 38-track album include Lady Gaga, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters and Justin Bieber. With royalties waived, every cent is going straight to the Red Cross relief fund. This week, Kyodo reported that it was iTunes’ top-seller in 18 countries.
One of the artists on the CD, Ne-Yo, has also showed his moral support by going ahead with his post-quake dates in Japan and donating some of the proceeds to relief efforts. The artist felt it was the right thing to do, giving fans something to smile about in a difficult time. Not all foreign artists scheduled to play Japan during March agreed with Ne-Yo’s stance, though. Ke$ha cancelled her Japan dates out of respect for the victims. A statement on her website reads: “My heart is with Japan right now through this disaster and these hardships. I genuinely don’t think right now would be appropriate timing for me to perform in Japan given the content and the spirit of my show, which is all about feeling exuberant, rowdy and wild.”
While the question of whether concerts in Japan are appropriate at this time is a thorny one, plenty of charity concerts abroad are going ahead. The international indie scene has been particularly quick to mobilize itself behind the cause. As soon as the news of the tragedy became apparent, organizers of SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, which already had 20 Japanese acts on the bill rallied to collect funds at the festival for the American Red Cross relief effort and raised in excess of its target $100,000. In New York on March 27, acts from Japan and elsewhere, including Sonic Youth, Sean Lennon, Cibo Matto and Yoko Ono, performed at a concert to raise money for Japan earthquake relief efforts. In the U.K. All Tomorrow’s Parties, which just held its first-ever festival in Japan before the quake, have organized a fundraiser slated for April 21. Acts on the “Made in Japan” bill include LFO, Fuck Buttons and Squarepusher.
A more mainstream music fundraiser, to feature as yet to be announced global music talent, is currently being planned in London for April. The event is organized by Live Nation and will take place at Wembly Arena. Also coming up in April is a special fundraiser being held at Manchester’s iconic Hacienda on April 22. “From Manchester to Japan With Love” will be headlined by Basement Jaxxx and funds raised will go to the Japanese Red Cross.