Avex Group Holdings Inc. (//) is an entertainment conglomerate led by founder Max Matsuura and headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Avex (short for audio visual expert) manages J-pop talents like Ayumi Hamasaki and internet sensation PikoTaro. It has also shifted into other business domains like anime, video games and live music events like partnering with Ultra Music Festival and hosting the annual A-nation. The company is a member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) keiretsu.
Avex Group official logo (2017–present). The company had used the same logo when its corporate name was then "Avex Inc."
|Traded as||TYO: 7860|
|Founded||11 April 1988 (as Avex D.D., Inc.)*|
|Headquarters||Avex Building, 3-1-30 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8577 (General Reception 2nd Floor)|
|Worldwide, mainly Asia|
|Max Matsuura (Founder & CEO)|
|118 million yen|
|Owner||The Master Trust Bank of Japan (3.44%)|
Max 2000, Inc. (4.76%)
T's Capital Co., Ltd. (5.22%)
Number of employees
|1,455 persons (as of March 31, 2017)|
The current name, Avex Group Holdings, Incorporated, was adopted in 2004 as part of reconstruction process after Tom Yoda's resignation. Avex Group Holdings, Incorporated was used for the main subsidiaries, while the old name (Avex, Incorporated) was for entertainment components of the Group.
In 2005, Avex, Incorporated became Avex Entertainment, Incorporated, and stayed on as part of the Group.
1988–1999: The early years
Avex was registered June 1, 1973 as Avex D.D. Incorporated (エイベックス・ディー・ディー株式会社 Eibekkusu Di Di Kabushiki Gaisha), although it did not become established until 1988. They began as a CD wholesaler based in Machida, Tokyo. In September 1990, they opened a recording studio and created Avex Trax as a music label. In the same year, they created "Musique Folio Inc.", a music publishing company, which became "Prime Direction Inc." During their early years, Avex operated as an indies label, but had an especially close relationship with the Sanwa keiretsu.
In 1993, they transferred to Aoyama, Tokyo and created a U.S. branch, called "AV Experience America Inc." The year also marked the first of Avex's yearly events. It was held in Tokyo Dome under the name "avex rave '93" and attracted 50,000 attendees. This led to the creation of the Cutting Edge label.
In 1994, they formed two UK subsidiaries, "Rhythm Republic Limited" and "Avex U.K. Limited." Later that year, they opened a disco, claimed on their website to be "the world's largest scale disco", named Velfarre.
In 1997, they opened a series of concert halls called "Zepp" with Sony Music Entertainment Japan. In early 1999, they signed an agreement with Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records to handle the companies' Japanese CD releases. Later that year "Avex Mode", an animation company, was established. In December, the company was listed on the 1st section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol 7860.
2000–2009: Times of unity and divisiveness
In January 2004, they began selling Japanese music CDs in South Korea. In December of that same year, President Max Matsuura "spotted" former idol Ami Suzuki performing live at the annual festival of their school, Nihon University. He subsequently signed her to the Avex label.
In early 2008, Avex partnered with Victor JVC to officially create the label D-topia Entertainment as a business partnership between the labels and its founder, Terukado Onishi, with the sales promotion handled by Victor while the area promotion handled by Avex. As part of the Avex Group's 20th anniversary celebration, a big project occurred with avex trax's "produced by avex trax" artists; the band Girl Next Door, formed and debuted in September 2008.
2004: Internal feud : Max Matsuura v. Tom Yoda
In August 2004, a feud between Max Matsuura and co-founder Tom Yoda affected the group. It started because of Yoda's ambition to expand Avex into other entertainment-related ventures, especially producing movies. In addition, he accused Ryuhei Chiba, the company's executive director and president of Avex Inc. (now Avex Planning and Development), of pursuing personal profit from a few big artists.
July 30: In a board meeting, Yoda introduced a resolution calling on Chiba to resign because of an alleged conflict of interest. A source says the disagreement arose because Chiba had signed an artist managed by a member of his family. The board backed Yoda's resolution in a 6-1 vote. However, Matsuura — described by insiders as a close ally of Chiba — introduced a second resolution demanding that Yoda step down due to "a difference of opinion in management principles". Matsuura's motion was defeated 5-2. He and Chiba resigned the next day.
August 2: Matsuura and Chiba announced their resignations in a meeting with employees of Avex. Chiba denied any fault, while Matsuura complained that Avex had lost its love of music and said he wanted to start over. They had the support of many staff who also said they would quit. More significantly, the label's top star, Ayumi Hamasaki, said she would leave. As a result, Avex's stocks in the TSE fell by 16 percent that day.
More K-pop artists from other agencies continued to sign with Avex such as SM Entertainment's TVXQ (2006), YG Entertainment's 2NE1 (2010), S-plus Entertainment's SS501 member Kim Hyung Jun (2011), Pledis Entertainment's After School (2011), NH Media's U-KISS (2011) and Yejeon Media's Shu-I (2011).
In 2012, the group began offering limited releases for sale, DRM-free for the first time within Japan on Amazon MP3. Max Matsuura and Toshio Kobayashi, the company's top two individual shareholders, launched their own investment companies to anchor their shares in 2012.
In April 2010 – the Avex Group corporation was re-structured to establish Avex Music Publishing Inc. as a consolidated subsidiary, in a corporate spin-off of music publishing division of Avex Group Holdings Inc. Thus the Avex Group became a pure holding company, with a corporate structure as follows:
- Avex Entertainment Inc. (エイベックス・エンタテインメント株式会社 eibekkusu entateinmento kabushiki gaisha)
- Avex Broadcasting & Communications Inc. (エイベックス通信放送株式会社 eibekkusu tsūshin hōsō kabushiki gaisha)
- Avex Management Inc. (エイベックス･マネジメント株式会社 eibekkusu manejimento kabushiki gaisha)
- Avex Music Publishing Inc. (エイベックス・ミュージック・パブリッシング株式会社 eibekkusu myūjikku paburisshingu kabushiki gaisha) (Formerly Musique Folio Inc. and Prime Direction Inc.)
- Avex International Holding Corporation
- Avex Asia Pte. Ltd.
- Avex Taiwan Inc. – Est. July 1998
- Avex Casa (house music and electronica)
- Avex Classics (classical music)
- Avex Globe (globe's label)
- Avex Ideak
- Avex International (international releases)
- Avex IO
- Avex Trance (trance music)
- Avex Trax (first record label of the group (1990))
- Avex Tune (dance music)
- Binyl Records (rock music)
- Dive in! Disc
- Gokukara Records (joint venture with Marty Friedman)
- Commmons (joint venture with Ryuichi Sakamoto)
- Cutting Edge (second record label of the Group (1993.12))
- Dimension Point (Namie Amuro's label)
- Disc du Soleil
- Dois Irmaos (Lisa Ono)
- Espionage Records (joint venture with Verbal)
- Five-D Plus
- Foxtrot (joint venture with Rams Incorporated)
- FRAME (joint venture with Level-5; founded by the latter with Up-Front Works)
- Hach Entertainment (joint venture with NTT SmartConnect)
- Hi-BPM Studio
- HPQ (Visual kei)
- Idol Street (for idol performers, launched October 2, 2010 by Tatsuo Higuchi)
- Island Records
- J-Friends Project
- Justa Music
- Locomusic (Love-chan's label)
- Love Life Records (Hitomi's label)
- Mad Pray Records (Anna Tsuchiya's label)
- Maximum 10
- Motorod Records
- Oorong Records (joint venture with Oorong-sha Group)
- Rhythm Republic
- Rhythm Zone (third record label of the Group (1999))
- Riddim Zone
- Starz by Rhythm Zone
- Rising Records
- Sonic Groove
- Superb Trax
- Tachytelic Records (joint venture with Taku Takahashi)
- Tank Top Records
- Tearbridge Production
- The Six Dragons
- True Song Music (Dai Nagao's label)
- Velfarre Records
- YGEX (joint label with YG Entertainment)
- A stAtion (Ayaka's own record label), since 2012.
- AKS Co., Ltd. (AKB48's agency), since 2006. (Avex currently handles AKS' DVD releases.)
- Aozora Records, since 2005.
- GMT Records, since 2005.
- Armada Music
- CAM Entertainment, since 2008.
- D-topia Entertainment, since 2008. (co-distributed with Victor Entertainment and Universal Music Japan)
- Danger Crue Records, from 2006 to 2012. (now handled by Sony Music Japan)
- Disney Music Group, from 1999 to present
- Fluxus Entertainment
- ISM Label (kannivalism's label), since 2006.
- HATS Unlimited (Taro Hakase's label)
- AG Label
- Higashiyakena Soundbuilder (HY's label), since 2000.
- I Scream Records, since 2010. (Japan only)
- Johnny & Associates (Taiwan and Hong Kong only)
- Kontor Records
- P-Vine Records (co-distributed with Victor Entertainment and BMG Japan/Sony Music Japan)
- Almond Eyes
- Kai-san Factory
- SM Entertainment, since 2000.
- S2S Pte. Ltd. (Japan only)
- Toy's Factory (Taiwan only, since 2012)
- Vamprose, since 2008. (Vamps and Monoral's label)
- Yamaha Music Communications Inc., since 2006.
- Aoyama Christmas Circus (annual Christmas tree lighting event)
The Group is a member of the IFPI for Hong Kong and Japan.
Each year since 2002, Avex has hosted a summer concert tour around Japan, "A-Nation", featuring the company's most successful acts. It is held every weekend in August in different Japanese cities. Top Avex acts like Ayumi Hamasaki, Kumi Koda, AAA, Ai Otsuka, BoA, Do As Infinity, Hitomi, TRF, Every Little Thing and TVXQ perform to major crowds each year. In 2008, Namie Amuro made her first appearance at A-Nation and performed on all dates that year. For the first time in 2012, Kumi Koda did not perform due to her pregnancy.
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