What is the CD Shop Award?

2023 marks the fifteenth anniversary of Japan’s CD Shop Awards, a barometer of the latest and greatest releases in the country’s domestic music industry. In the age of streaming and algorithmic music recommendations, the awards harken back to the venerated tradition of asking the clerk at your local music store what they’re listening to; indeed, the criteria for being eligible to vote is employment at a CD shop anywhere in Japan. Clerks are invariably music enthusiasts, and you can be sure that they spend a lot of time listening to a wide spectrum of new music, both at home and at work. Thus, the awards represent the recommendations for listeners as decided by consummate music professionals. There are two grand prizes for the awards. The “red” prize is bestowed upon an album worthy of repeated listening and enjoyment (i.e., a “God-tier album”). The “blue” prize is given to an album by a new artist that is expected to make waves.