Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend M3, one of Japan’s biggest interactive multimedia events that is essentially the Comiket of music. M3 is a great opportunity for aspiring artists and record labels because they are able to rent a booth and distribute their music in addition to connecting with other artists and fans. I like this kind of event because it preserves the culture of physical music distribution and a lot of the music sold here is unavailable online so you won’t be able to find it elsewhere. The same goes for the merchandise (such as hats and bags) as well. There is also a space where you can freely listen to select music with your own headphones or have the option of renting some. It’s very exciting to wander around here because you can literally see the happiness of people as they connect with the artists they love.
Getting to M3
M3 takes place at Tokyo Ryutsu Center, which consists of six exhibition stalls and a conference center with multiple floors. This complex is actually really close to Haneda airport, so I rode the local Tokyo-Monorail towards Haneda-Airport Terminal 2 to reach it. The event goes from 11:00 – 15:30, and I arrived at 11:30 just to avoid the initial crowds. My timing was perfect because it only took me around 5 minutes to register and I was able to visit the 3 booths that I wanted. The entrance fee is 1500 yen, plus it includes a guide with all of the participants listed and a map which is quite handy.
Navigating M3 is quite daunting at first, because each booth is identified with a letter and a series of numbers. The booths are placed side by side and there’s a lot going on so it’s really easy to walk past the one you’re looking for. Not only do they use all 26 letters of the English alphabet in the booth naming system, but they also use Japanese hiragana and katakana consonants and vowels as well. There is very little English guidance and I don’t think much of the staff speaks English, so I would strongly recommend researching the artists/circles you’re interested in and finding exactly where their booth is placed before you come here. It is extremely fun to wander around, but sadly there is not enough time to fully experience each and every artist’s music as this is only a one day event. I would advise you to plan ahead so you can make the most of your time here.
Buying Music at M3
The CD I was most interested in buying was TVR Compilation Vol. 1, which is from a relatively new independent label in Asia. One of my favorite artists who I’ve written about before; in the blue shirt, has released a rare song that is only obtainable at M3.
Here is the preview of the compilation that was uploaded a few weeks before:
Fortunately when I arrived there were multiple copies of the compilation I wanted, and the people running the booth were quite friendly and gave me an extra CD along with my purchase so it was an extremely good experience. The compilation was only 1000 yen and was more than worth the cost. All of the artists on the compilation have experience in the music industry, so it was quite the noteworthy compilation.
The first time I ever saw in the blue shirt at Lounge Neo in 2017, he played the song 「Dreamin’ of You」as an exclusive song in his set. I’ve wanted the song for the longest time but I could never obtain it until now. Finally in 2019 it was officially released as a part of this compilation, and I am very happy to officially have it in my collection now!
In addition to TVR’s booth, I also checked out the booths for Miraicha and Lipgloss Records. I bought some merch for my friends overseas who couldn’t be here, and also picked up the Departure CD early that a lot of artists I know have collaborated on. While I was here I saw so many familiar names of Japanese artists like IOSYS and ave;new that I listened to in high school through the internet, so I felt extremely nostalgic even though it was my first time here. I had an amazing time even though I was only here to purchase a few things. It truly felt like a dream to be here.
Overall M3 is a really friendly event that is perfect for networking and sharing music. All of the music and merch is extremely affordable (most CDs are sold for 1200 yen on average), and I like knowing that all of the profits go to the artists and record labels (in addition to the booth rental fee). M3 is quite comparable to Comiket, but not as big and daunting. The size of the event center was enough to accommodate all of the artists and crowds of people, so I was relieved that I didn’t have to deal with long wait lines or commuter traffic on the trains. All of the artists I talked to were happy to meet me, so I left the event center with an extremely good feeling. If you love Japanese music as much as I do, please consider checking M3 out!
*M3 is a seasonal event, so you can check the latest information on their official website here.