The composer of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba‘s chart-topping opening theme song “Gurenge” appeared on Nihon TV‘s “Downtown DX” program on Thursday. According to an estimate revealed on the program, Kayoko Kusano has earned over 250 million yen (approximately US$2.2 million) from the song alone.
Songs earn royalties through multiple formats, including CDs, downloads from music streaming services, subscriptions, and karaoke. Karaoke in particular was highlighted as the biggest earner for “Gurenge”—the composer earned 3 yen every time the song was selected, and it was the most-selected song in 2020.
When the presenter suggested that if half of Japan’s population decided to sing “Gurenge” just once at karaoke, it would have made over 100 million yen (approximately US$910,000), Kusano said that the actual number wasn’t quite that high, but it still amounted to an extraordinary sum that she had never seen before.
Musician Takanori Nishikawa, who was a fellow guest on the program, remarked that as a performer, his work is separate from the karaoke experience. On the other hand, the composer is inextricable from a karaoke song. He also suggested that “Gurenge” has the potential to make even more money in the future through karaoke.
According to Kusano, however, “Gurenge” could have performed better than it did, saying that she had been told that if it weren’t for the coronavirus, its earnings would have been five times higher.
As for Demon Slayer itself, Kusano remarked that it was “a remarkable show” and amusedly described it as “a household name” when the earnings of “Gurenge” came to light.
The song, performed by LiSA, debuted digitally in April 2019 before its July 2019 CD release. The digital version accrued over 1 million downloads by July 2020 and topped the digital single ranking chart for 2020. She is the first female artist to top the annual chart.
The song was featured at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics with a performance by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. LiSA sang the song during her performances on Kōhaku Uta Gassen (“Red and White Song Contest”), Japan’s most-watched music television program, in 2019 and 2020.