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Local Music: Actually Big 

When musicians tour, they sprinkle sound-seeds. Play great concerts, sell stuff afterward, and offer free music online to encourage viral word-of-mouth. Do this and wait. It's a strategy.

There's a chance that someone in Japan will hear your music and release your debut album on his label. There's a chance that your sound will strike a chord with a new audience — that your music will fit better into a world you know nothing about than the world you do. It is one of the more heartwarming aspects of music that, despite major label record companies' big-money marketing campaigns, the right music often finds the right audience by accident. On being an overseas sensation, Carly Nicklaus of Seattle dance group United State of Electronica confirms: "It's weird."

Now that they've lived through three trips to Japan, where U.S.E. packs venues in Osaka and Tokyo, plays huge rock festivals in the mountains (Fuji Rock), records hundreds of promotional radio spots, and gets its picture taken for magazine pages, they consider their future with more scope.

"Our dream would be to play all over the world. It would be the coolest thing. We would be really excited about that." Was U.S.E. in that mindset before Japanese audiences embraced them back in 2004, sending the group to "uh, number two on some kind of official Japanese chart"?

"No. I think it was always a dream for us to play in other countries, but none of us knew how to do that. All we really knew was to just keep doing what we were doing as long as it was still fun."

And that was enough. Smartly, U.S.E. struck while the iron was hot and immediately traveled to the place their music caught on. There was no way the band could have predicted they'd be big in Japan, and there's a lesson in that. Do not try to be liked, only try to be available.

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