Technology, in this context, can be defined as objects and techniques involved with production of music (guitars, amps, and MIDI recorders, for example) and their recorded manifestations (compact discs, MiniDiscs and digital video discs, and their respective playback machinery). This is, however, a purely functional definition. Technology can be also viewed as devices that create and maintain musical simulacra, or the recording and the play back of a musical performance. Simulacra are the duplications of human performance: “[t]echnologies are our lieutenants. They stand in place of (in lieu of) our own actions” (Wise 1998: 412). Technology replicates human action and interaction on a variety of levels. For the purposes of this argument, the replication in focus here is that of human reproduction of sound in the form of popular music through technology. One outcome of simulacra is the dichotomization of humanity and machine/technology; replacing human action means that some of its spiritual essence is also removed in the mechanical duplication. This is the crux of the struggle between technology, consumption, and authenticity in Japanese popular music. Despite this loss of human warmth, Harumi Befu notes that technology made

in Japan is “value added” and enhances the product’s desirability (2003: 14-15). This is especially true with respect to information transfer. When facilitated by technology, information enhances the audience’s experience. Like Marx’s commodified fetishism, information is no longer an abstract “object”: it is identified with “bundles of social relationships, transcendentals, with a life of its own” (Bullock et al. 1998: 144). While we must always be aware of what values are being “bundled” in the commodification process, technology has enhanced the consumer experience by adding values of perceived immediacy and authenticity to the personal interactions that occur within the context of consuming popular music. Dramatic shifts in the outcomes of music production have occurred all over

the world, but Japan is often thought of as a society at the forefront of this revolution. Advances in music technology mean not only changes in the modes of production but also the modes of consumption. The material object most closely associated with the consumption of popular music has changed radically from 45 RPM singles to three-inch CD singles, and then to MP3 files. We also see

shifts in the way music is circulated: first through the radio, then later through the personal computer and the mobile phone; first from the corner record shop, then to downloading files from the Internet. Implicit in these developments are artistic conflicts:

Recent innovations in musical technology thus pose two kinds of problems for musicians: on the one hand, they alter the structure of musical practice and concepts of what music is and can be; and, on the other, they place musicians and musical practice in a new relationship with consumer practices and with consumer society as a whole.