We caught up with Kimi Kato who was the product manager for Universal Japan, working with Bon Jovi from 2002 to 2005. Here is what he had to share with the readers:
Hi Kimi, nice meeting you. Let’s talk about some of your amazing work as a product manager for Bon Jovi, while in Japan and what did your role involve?
I was the product manager for Bon Jovi from 2002 to 2005 until I became the International marketing manager for 4 record labels in 2005; Interscope, Polydor UK, Mercury UK and Island UK. During my 3 years in charge of Bon Jovi in Japan, I worked on 3 of their releases.
-This Left Feels Right (2003)
-100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong (2004)
As a product manager, I was in charge of coordinating all activities related to releases of music by the artist in the local territory; manufacture of products, promotion, and marketing to maximize sales.
-Localizing products (artwork, pricing, packaging) and managing manufacture, stock and distribution
-Manage all aspects of promotion and marketing for the artist.
-Set up and manage promotional trips including creating awareness through media, fan engagements, and support tour.
The album “Bounce” was released in 2002 and became a platinum-selling album in Japan which led to a very successful tour that included 8 domes/stadium shows in 6 major cities – an impressive record that no other International artist has surpassed since.
What did you think when you first heard Bon Jovi’s compilation box set? Were you a fan of theirs growing up?
As a product manager, it was very different as to working on a new act in comparison. With new artists, it was all about breaking through. Just as challenging, but it was all about trial and error and just going for a hit with creativity, passion, and instinct. Bon Jovi, on the other hand, was no new band. They were already a legendary rock band, superstars that had decades of global success. Mega -success! They have seen it all. It was not just about creativity, passion, and instinct, but more. You were required to carrying their legacy with the utmost professionalism. Nobody cared less about my passion or creativity. That, in a sense, was one of my most significant challenges. I was still a young product manager but was expected to deliver or even surpass my predecessor who was my boss at the time. It was about doing better than the “right thing” to do, and there were no right answers. The expectations were high, and delivery had to be stellar. Working for Bon Jovi was some of my most valuable and memorable experiences working in the music industry.
Bon Jovi plaque
This was given to me in early 2005 shortly after the release of the compilation box set “100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong” It was given to me by the band for contributing to their successful career in Japan.
Were you a fan of Bon Jovi growing up?
Yes, It was 1986, and I was14 years old at a boarding school in the UK. The seniors in my house were listening to Bon Jovi “Slippery When Wet” and I absolutely loved their music. The album was played in our common room frequently, and I would copy the album on a cassette tape to take with me to listen to on my walkman in my travels.
What was your favorite album of theirs out of the box set?
Thus, I must say “Slippery When Wet” is my favorite album as it was my first encounter with their music. The record was a massive hit in the UK and a phenomenon to my life. It was one of those memorable albums one listened to growing up. I never thought at that time that I would one day work with the band. They are a genuinely fantastic rock band.
What do you think the key is to these albums becoming so successful?
The fact that they have countless hits and successes and to be able to keep going is fascinating.
I have no idea what keeps them going, but I know for sure that they love doing it. Maybe they feel the responsibility of making the world a better place through music, as music has the power of influence.
What was it like meeting Bon Jovi?
I would set up interviews for the band, sometimes even be the translator.
I toured with them throughout Japan in 2003, a successful tour that included 8 domes/stadium shows in 6 major cities – an impressive record that no other International artist has ever surpassed. I have also gone to see the band in many other places such as Sydney, Melbourne, New Jersey, Atlantic City, etc. to document their shows with the legendary Japanese critic Masa Ito.
They were terrific people to work with, and I had much respect towards their professionalism and their staff who had worked with the band for decades. It was like a well-run mighty machine maestro by Jon Bon Jovi. Every member had different personalities, but they were all great. It was a real honor and a privilege to have worked with them. They are true rock superstars.