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Are the opening/ending themes, insert songs, and background music created specifically for the series they represent, or are they just picked by the producers/production committee based on how well they would fit their series?

What typically happens? What exceptions are there? How much have things changed now compared to the past?

  • Excellent question! It was interesting to analyze the economical ties between anime studio and music labels in anime, i.e. Aniplex / A-1 Pictures anime featuring artists from Sony (Himeka on Senkou no Night Raid, Boom Boom Satellites on Bounen no Xamdou), owner of both studio and label. If we talk about Bandai we have Lantis but I think there are not the only two cases due to Keiretsu or similar Japanese strong relationship between companies. – chirale May 12 '13 at 17:44
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Are the opening/ending themes, insert songs, and background music created specifically for the series they represent, or are they just picked by the producers/production committee based on how well they would fit their series? What typically happens?

In most cases, opening/ending themes, insert songs, and background music are created specifically for the series they represent. Though, it can also be picked based on it's popularity. After all, the main objective is to promote both the series and the theme songs.

What exceptions are there?

About exceptions, which I think can only be applicable when picking a song depends on the deal between the companies (anime production/company and music company) whether they will allow a song to be used as an anime theme song. Well, anime can be a good promoter of a theme song and vice versa so it's a win-win deal for the companies, so exceptions I guess will be all inside their agreement.

How much have things changed now compared to the past?

I think the only thing that has changed pertaining anime theme songs are the popularity. Anime are more popular now than before globally so there is more opportunity of a theme song to have a different versions of languages (which involves purposely creating theme songs for the anime itself).

My basis is here,

The theme music for most anime tends to be catchy songs deliberately written for release to the pop/rock music market, if they aren't already actual pop/rock songs.

One reason is simply that anime provides an easy way for both hit and entry J-pop/J-rock artists to get more exposure and good lateral promotion. Platinum J-rock bands like L'Arc~en~Ciel and Orange Range frequently release their new songs along as themes in anime that are on the air at the same period as their respective singles or albums.

Another reason this is done is because many anime voice actors are also singers, often the more successful ones. (At least one such performer, Megumi Hayashibara, is both a formidable presence on Japanese pop charts and an internationally-known talent, as well as the recipient of more star and featured anime roles than any one person ought to have.) It's not unknown for production companies to organize some of their principal cast members into groups for recording CDs — the "Goddess Family Club" (Ah! My Goddess), DoCo (Ranma 1/2), the Maho-Dou (Ojamajo Doremi) and the Spirit Singers (Digimon Frontier) all come to mind. Either way, it's usually to a voice actor's advantage — they perform theme songs (as well as additional "character" songs), receiving a double benefit from exposure in two different markets (and the additional profit).

A third reason is that TV theme songs are the pinnacle of Japanese musical success. If a Japanese artist/group makes a hit album, the studio takes almost all of the profits. If the same group makes an album as a TV tie-in, the musicians themselves receive a much larger cut.

  • I think exception can be found in Nichijou's ending theme from the second half of the episodes. There is at least Tsubasa wo Kudasai, which is a song from 1970s and has been sung by many artists (it is also used in K-ON). – nhahtdh May 22 '13 at 7:34
  • A song revival, perhaps? Song revival has to have a consent to the original singer/writer/composer. Can you explain further the exception you mentioned. (Sorry, I'm a bit slow today ;P) – xjshiya May 22 '13 at 7:39
  • Nah, I cannot really explain the why part. I only know that it is not a song written for the anime only. – nhahtdh May 22 '13 at 7:41
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    Then it goes under the picking of the songs then. Probably. Those who are truly involve in anime production can really answer this. :) – xjshiya May 22 '13 at 7:45
  • I don't think TVTropes is a very good reference for this kind of question. What kind of sources do they use anyway (besides the random specific examples they give)? – atlantiza May 23 '13 at 1:26

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