Let me ask: Do the staff members actually submit songs as well?
Yes. I used my O-bon (summer) holiday to spend two weeks creating a song, and I submitted it on the last day of my holiday. I checked it about 100 times in total, to make sure, but it was perfect. It had no flaws at all, but I had to keep checking. I loved that song.
What happened then?
I waited about three weeks, but my song did not come round for final inspection. So one day during lunch, I opened up my Nintendo DS with my heart pounding. My song was ‘NG’4 (no good). I lost it that day, I can tell you. 4’NG’ means a song submission has been unsuccessful for whatever reason, such as a mistake in the song.
So now you know how all the customers who submit songs that come back ‘NG’ feel.
It was mortifying. But I had no idea why my song was NG, and so, fuelled by resentment, I stormed into the booth of (Koichi) Kyuma-san, the sound director…
That must have been a shock for him!
I forced him to listen to it again…and he pointed out ten mistakes within the first ten seconds.
It was really embarrassing…
But you’re not disheartened, are you? You’ll continue to submit songs, right?
Yes. Until I’m successful.
When you succeed, shall we do another ‘Iwata Asks’? We could call that volume: “Noriko Kitamura: My Submission Success”. (laughs)
We’re talking about the very distant future here…
By the end of this year, I’m going to do it… I think (laughs)
I proposed adding an ‘Editor Mode’ to the first Band Brothers, but Kitamura-san was one of the people who vehemently opposed it. “I can’t read music, so I don’t want this kind of feature” she said. You were so opposed, and now you’re creating your own songs… It makes me very happy, I must say.
Even if they are NG. (laughs)
Do you have any advice for people who are putting their heart and soul into making songs, but they just aren’t getting accepted?
I’m the last person they should turn to for advice…
But the most important thing, without a shadow of a doubt, is to play your song to someone else before submitting it.
I think you’ve persuaded me of that! (laughs)
When you’re making a song, you’re closed off in your own little world. You really lose perspective.
Just like when you’re making games! (laughs)
Yes. You start to like your own song too much… Of course, you can try listening to your song objectively, and you can check out some of the other songs that have been submitted, but you’ll still end up thinking: “My song is the best!” That’s why it’s absolutely vital to get a cool-headed second opinion.
I see. How about you, Nishita-san?
I haven’t submitted a song yet, so I don’t have any advice to offer… Perhaps I’d say that a lot of failed submissions tend to be over-arranged. I think it’s important to listen to the original song to feel that you’ve really got a grasp on the arrangement before starting to make your own song. The inspectors will also then get a stronger impression that your song is close to the original, and your chances of success will increase.
I did try to do that… All (laugh)
In any case, thanks to this submission system, I feel that, with every new song that’s added, we are creating something new. Did you ever think that we would exceed 2,000 registered songs in such a short space of time?
Not in my wildest dreams.
Remind me how many songs can the Jam with the Band server hold?
It will be fine with up to 5,000, though there was a point during the ‘emergency system’ period when we were really worried it wasn’t going to be enough. Luckily the person in charge of the server told us that the capacity could be expanded, and that it could be done in one day, which was a real relief.
There’s one user that submits about 10 songs at once, and the quality is outstanding. One day, all the songs on the ‘New Song Ranking’ page were created by this user!
A kind of ‘Super Submitter’, I suppose. (laughs) Are there any days of the week that see more submissions than others?
Saturday and Sunday, are well in the lead, of course. I think people use the weekend to polish up their creations, and when they get that “it’s done” buzz, that’s when they submit.
So every Monday morning I look at the server and see how many more submissions there are, and think: “It’s going to be another hard week!”
So there’s lots of activity among the uploaders. How about the downloaders, on the other hand?
Each user has downloaded 20 songs on average.
Each user can download up to 100* songs, so it would be nice if they could easily download more. I’m quite reckless myself so I’ve been downloading songs willy-nilly, but it would seem that there are careful types who are able to download 85 more songs, but seem hesitant to download even one more. *Note: In the European version of Jam with the Band, the user can download another 50 songs via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
I’m one of those careful types, in fact. I use the ‘trial listen’ feature over and over again before downloading. Even though I’m the one who inspects and releases the songs, I guess I’m incapable of downloading them.
The ‘trial listen’ system has proved to be a lot more popular than we expected, actually. The proportion of trial listens against downloads is really high, isn’t it?
I’ve got some data here as of 1st September 2008.The number of downloads was 3,940,000, while the number of trial listens was 18,120,000.
Then it seems that, on average, it takes four or five trial listens to get one download. Everyone must be carefully choosing which song to download.
I really hope that everybody will fill up their 100 songs with songs that they love. (laughs)
Alright, I’d like to wrap up this session by asking you two about your future ambitions.
My ambition is to make ‘Band Brothers International’. I’d love it if our users could enjoy western music as well. Receiving song submissions from all over the world is my dream. Having said that, the prospects aren’t good regarding dealing with copyrights on western songs and I don’t know whether or not we’ll actually be able to do this, so I suppose ‘big dream’ is a more suitable word than ‘ambition’.
Just imagine the work that would cause for the ‘minions’! (laughs)
We’d have to have detailed discussions regarding the internationalisation of the ‘minions’.
How about your ambition, Kitamura-san?
We’re keeping people waiting with our current inspection system, so naturally I’d like to think of a new system that would make everyone a bit happier. That would be great.
That’s very important, certainly, but is that really the limit of your ambitions Kitamura-san?
I want one of my submitted songs to be accepted! That’s my number one ambition at the moment! (laughs)
I thought so. (laughs) I’ll share my ambition to close. I want as few people as possible to be in the situation where they don’t know the possibilities of what they can do on the Internet. The connection rate for Nintendo DS software in Japan that supports Wi-Fi Connection remains under 30%. For Jam with the Band, however, it increases to over 60%, but there are still users who don’t know that they can download songs. I feel that this is a terrible waste. It’s so easy to download 100 songs that you love. Even if you don’t have Wi-Fi access at home you can use Nintendo DS Stations* in shops. I really hope that everyone creates their own version of Jam with the Band, filled with their favourite songs. Thank you very much for today. *Note: The DS Station service is not available in Europe.
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