Kansai Music Conference (KMC) (Japanese: 関西ミュージックカンファレンス Kansai Myuujikku Kanfarensu), is an international music industry conference based in the city of Osaka, located next to Kobe and Kyoto in the Kansai region of Japan, approx. 600 km west of Tokyo. Established in 2009, the conference focuses on the music scene in Japan, specifically the Kansai area.
Promoting tourism and cultural awareness of the Kansai area to non-Japanese
Organizing and sponsoring benefits and charity events for causes both in Japan and overseas
Organizing, co-sponsoring, and facilitating networking events and showcases for musicians and music industry professionals in Japan year-round, with a focus on the Kansai region
The first Kansai Music Conference was held on September 19 and 20, 2009 at Convention Room AP Osaka. Among the workshops and discussions, was a memorial celebration for Michael Jackson.
KMC 2010 saw a 240% increase in participation over 2009, featured musicians from 5 continents, and was expanded from 2 days to 4 days; September 17–20. The Opening Party was held on the 17th, showcases on the 18th, and the main conference on the 19th and 20th. The main conference venue was changed to the Osaka Museum of History which also served as co-sponsor. In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, participating musicians did a tribute performance and benefit drive for Haiti refugees.
KMC 2011 was held September 16–19, continuing the same basic schedule as the previous year. Notable performers and attendees included Katie Rox from Canada and Adam Tyler from the US. This year saw the addition of an English rakugo (traditional Japanese comedy in English) show and a grand finale on the 19th that featured several performers doing a tribute to the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
KMC 2012 (program) was held from September 14 – 17. Following the 4 day schedule as in previous years, most of the events took place in downtown Osaka. Among some of the events and performers was a shamisen workshop (traditional Japanese instrument) and an awards ceremony.
KMC 2013 was held from September 20 – 23. This year also featured the English rakugo performance, and cited additional support from the Hard Rock Cafe and the Japan Foundation.
KMC took the year off from holding a conference for 2014 in order to work on building sponsorships, and instead focused on smaller events.
KMC 2015 was held from September 18 - 22. The 2015 conference included sponsored events by D'Addario, as well as workshops including the popular English rakugo show and gospel workshops. Also special for 2015 was a feature of music from Latvia.
KMC 2016 will be held from September 16 - 18.
KMC has had several accomplishments in its first 3 years. Osaka band Riot Dance Party was able to make their first tour overseas in Australia through connections made with an Aussie band at a KMC show.
Another connection was made when American hip hop artist, Legrande, met with a professor at Temple University Japan Campus in Tokyo to collaborate on a project with college students to create a character in Second Life.
Canadian singer-songwriter Katie Rox has commented on her success at KMC in an interview with Canadian music news site North By East West, saying, “I have noticed CD sales, twitter and Facebook followers have increased since the trip, so I would say it was a success!” Rox explained the value of the conference in her view, saying further that the conference is especially valuable to independent musicians that lack the support of a major label. “You need to make it known who you are. That can be hard without label support.”
KMC has built up a team of sponsors, partners, and supporters, both in Japan and internationally. Also, several charity drives for earthquake victims have been organized by the KMC Executive Board.
KMC provides a forum for independent musicians around the world to network with other musicians, music related companies and organizations, experience the live music scene in Japan, as well as participate in seminars, presentations and workshops about music and the music industry. There is little precedent for such an event in Japan.
As an independently organized event, KMC currently does not attract big companies, major label reps, and music industry executives like similar events in other countries, due to the general unfamiliarity of the concept and closed nature of the Japanese music industry. According to Levi, “It’s amazing how artists with such talent are practicing and performing with almost no attention from the music industry… It’s almost impossible for independent musicians in Japan to move up to the next level without help from a major company. KMC is my way of affecting change—a change to a better and more rewarding music scene in Japan.”