The Global Music Market and the Japanese Approach to Digital Media

Leafing through records in Camden Town or Shoreditch may not be quite the thing of the past we were led to believe it was a decade or so ago, yet despite the recent cultural resurgence of the LP, a BBC news report suggests that a decline in Japanese domestic market sales is harming the music industry on a global scale.

photoWith retail charts for both home grown talent and international imports, Japanese record companies have been somewhat slow when it has come to adopting digital formats, relying solely on physical media that has not shifted in price for several years now.

This reluctance to move away from traditionally packaged CDs is surprising considering the origins of some of the big corporate players who have pushed mobile technology in recent years. In part however, it may not be beyond speculation to suggest that significantly merchandise focused idol releases play some role in this reluctance.

The traditional variant releases of singles with exclusive photographs, handshake event tickets and additional DVDs have been a staple of the idol industry’s marketing tour-de-force for a considerable time, gathering much of the revenue from overly dedicated fans and collectors purchasing each variant.

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Whilst there has been a move to market Japanese music on iTunes and other digital formats—see Yasutaka Nakata produced acts such as Kyary Pyamu Pyamu and Perfume, and even idol group Dempagumi.inc—there is very little movement on larger groups such as AKB48 reaching out to either the domestic or Western digital markets.

It should be noted however that amongst Japanese acts currently available on iTunes, a considerable chunk of Morning Musume’s catalogue, past and present, is now available.

What this reluctance on the part of the Japanese market means in the long run however is hard to determine, yet inevitably some change must eventually present itself for the industry to sustain itself.

As society changes in terms of its interaction with digital and physical media, it will be interesting to see how this impacts on the music industry and the broader fandom based market of merchandise and conventions.

 

Source: BBC News

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