Arama They Didn't

9:27 am - 06/18/2013

Japan poised to become the world’s biggest music market

2013 may just be the year that Japan will overtake the United States to become the world’s biggest music market. What’s even more remarkable is that the growth in Japan’s market has been driven by physical sales, an “anomaly” in this supposedly digital age.

The year-end 2012 table from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) showed that the U.S. and Japan combined accounts for more than half of the global recording industry, with the American market just 1.3% ahead. Japan is one of the very few markets that had a positive showing in 2012, gaining 4% from its 2011 showing. Japanese trade group Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) said that the digital sales during the first quarter of 2013 were 70% higher than in 2012. Single track sales and ring-tones were the biggest contributors to the digital sales for this year.

But the real story is the resurgence of physical sales in Japanese music. Someone had the brilliant idea to reinvest in the physical packaging of CDs and DVDs of popular J-pop and K-pop artists (and even other genres as well) and lo and behold, sales started booming in 2012. And lest you think it was just last year’s fad, figures from the RIAJ show that CD sales almost doubled in the first quarter this year and CD-based revenues rose 92%. In fact, 80% of the revenue of the Japanese market comes from physical CD sales. This is also partly because of the government’s law criminalizing illegal downloading, which led to a drop in digital revenues. This trend in the Japanese market should serve as a learning point for music industries that are looking at revitalizing sales of their physical CDs and DVDs.

dslvg 18th-Jun-2013 04:13 pm (UTC)
This is also partly because of the government’s law criminalizing illegal downloading, which led to a drop in digital revenues.

Why would that make legal digital sales drop?
aibada 18th-Jun-2013 04:27 pm (UTC)
ikr idgi
myharu 18th-Jun-2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
hmm maybe because digital is cheaper and easier to share?
nami 19th-Jun-2013 01:40 am (UTC)
I read before that people are afraid to download music at all just in case the sources aren't really legit and buying the irl version is foolproof.
xdeepriver 18th-Jun-2013 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks AKB.
(no subject) - Anonymous
liime_arix 18th-Jun-2013 05:02 pm (UTC)
Doesn't RIAJ record mobile downloads, they mention it is their sales figures of digital music for the first quarter.
(no subject) - Anonymous
liime_arix 18th-Jun-2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
"a lot of people are downloading off iTunes and mora nowadays" that makes sense, I hope that causes more acts to go on iTunes. Cause I don't mind buying an iTunes JP card to get their music.
myharu 18th-Jun-2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
if America adopt the RE/LE model of selling physical copies, sales may increase. Adopting AKB's model would cause ppl to rage lol
nami 19th-Jun-2013 01:41 am (UTC)
I can't imagine who would buy LEs in America lol maybe preteens.
myharu 19th-Jun-2013 01:50 am (UTC)
but (pre)teens are pretty much the driving force behind music purchases here, it could work, but the LE has to come with a handshake ticket or a concert DVD XD
nami 19th-Jun-2013 01:51 am (UTC)
Ah handshake tix are a different story even I might buy that just to be able to say "hey I met this famous person" XD
myharu 19th-Jun-2013 01:55 am (UTC)
exactly, I wish American artists did more stuff like idols
sergel02 26th-Jun-2013 04:16 am (UTC)
I'm not sure handshakes would work unless you only had them in major cites. I think one reason they work for Japan is that the country is smaller. I mean, what if there is a handshake even in LA and the person who got it was in New York or Hawaii?
cherrycoloured 19th-Jun-2013 02:38 am (UTC)
There are Deluxe Editions of albums, but all that is is a few extra track for five extra bucks and they are just as available as the normal version. Usually, if a Western artist does an LE, it's a full boxed set that's only available online, and only super hardcore fans who would actually seek that out buy it. I think it's be pretty interesting to see a Western artist adapt the AKB model. I remember that before One Direction's most recent album came out, there were rumors that there would be five versions of the deluxe version, each with a different boy's face on the cover, and I'm kind of disappointed that they didn't do that. I also really love the photo cards in AKB48 releases and I think that if Western idols like 1D, Bieber, or Selena Gomez did that, it would increase sales as well.

Though, I think that the Japanese singles-then-album model in general leads to more sales than how it goes in reverse in the West. If people already have the album, they won't go buy the singles, where as I, for example, have bought some Japanese songs multiple times because I bought a single and then bought the album it is later when it came out.
myharu 19th-Jun-2013 02:51 am (UTC)
I know some artists have deluxe editions, but it's not the norm like it is in Japan and by AKB model I meant 4 different versions with each version having a different b-side. America won't like that it would frustrate us lol. America releasing of singles is basically release 1 or 2 singles before the album release and then 1-3 more after. But I agree having all the a-sides released before the album would be better and America needs to bring b-sides back.
cherrycoloured 19th-Jun-2013 03:03 am (UTC)
I'm so frustrated that most Western artists don't do b-sides anymore. One of my favorite British bands used to have b-sides on every single, and sometime different mediums (like CD version, vinyl version, digital version) would have different b-sides, but for their past two albums, they done one non-remix b-side, and it was a cover. It's such a great chance to experiment with a different sound or spotlight different members of the group that aren't as front and center on the a-side. Plus, as you pointed out, it ends up making more money. It seems like such a waste to put a few extra tracks on a deluxe edition that only costs a couple dollars more. Artist usually end up recording much more than what goes on the album anyways, so it would make sense to release them in a way that would make a lot more money.
tomoxtomo 19th-Jun-2013 03:56 am (UTC)
I have been wondering why America doesn't release an album to end an artist's era, as in after all the singles. It just makes more sense, in a way you are given more material and then you receive a conclusion.

I remember 1D's first album had walmart-exclusive trading cards or something lol. I think receiving like 2/15 photo cards in each CD would increase single sales tremendously.
namiia 18th-Jun-2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
Didn't this already happen though? *scratches head*
liime_arix 18th-Jun-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
The fact that I posted that article too, woops lol.
benwayshouse 18th-Jun-2013 09:11 pm (UTC)
Given the focus on packaging, it makes sense to me that physical sales are up. CDs are kind of a boring format for music. At least here in the west, when I buy CDs, it's not uncommon for me to rip the CD and stick it on a shelf, never to look at it again. I've always thought that focusing on the product itself would help bolster physical sales. On top of supporting the artist, it's also a thing that you can have. If it has alternate artwork, a DVD, a photobook, a sheet of stickers, a poster, an invitation to a concert, or any combination of these things, I'd think it was really cool! I recently bought limited edition versions of MEG's albums, and I was very impressed by the quality of the product itself. Most of the albums I bought came in a specially-designed box, with any number of bonuses, including DVDs, photobooks, postcards, stickers, and posters. Even the printed materials were on photo paper. Even for her singles, the production values are about the same. Every once in a while, I still go back and open the cases up to look at all the cool stuff that they came with. I think that ties into the fact that beyond owning the songs, it's just a cool thing to have. I like checking it out every once in a while; it's almost as if my enjoyment of it isn't dependent on my knowledge of the artist responsible for making it happen.

I don't know how often it actually does happen here, but I think things like this could work here in the West. With a deluxe edition, you could definitely offer more than just extra tracks, alternate art, or a bonus DVD. To promote their 2008 album, a band called of Montreal distributed a variety of products that came with a digital copy of their album. You could buy a t-shirt, a tote bag, a wall decal, a paper lamp, or other things, and it would come with the album itself. It's a cool idea, and they picked objects that had a purpose, so it wouldn't have to be a one-and-done thing. Physical editions of a CD don't have to be that bold, but emphasizing the product isn't a bad thing. I've learned through being a fan of Japanese pop artists that record companies value the physical product and mostly try to give you your money's worth.

Edited at 2013-06-18 09:11 pm (UTC)
lettace 19th-Jun-2013 12:09 am (UTC)
lol i hate to admit this but it's the idol shit
especially fake48
carorinrin 21st-Jun-2013 02:29 am (UTC)
Well, like people have said already, this is mostly due to AKB, Johnny's and other Idol groups. They really do cool and creative stuff with the CD packages though. On a Japanese single CD, you get around 3 extra songs and the PV or something. In the West, it's mostly just some remixes of the single and then maybe one more song. I think Western people, especially fans, would actually buy physical CDs if they would get extra stuff with it. It's all just a question of the right Marketing and promotion.
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