MMW-92 -- Pushing Mobile Music With KDDI's EZ Channel

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
M U S I C M E D I A W A T C H
Commentary on Japan's music technology news
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Issue No. 92
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Tokyo

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CONTENTS
++ FEATURE: Pushing Mobile Music With KDDI's EZ Channel
++ UPCOMING EVENT: MIDEMNET FORUM AT MIDEM
++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS:
** Chaku-uta Full Downloads Top 30 Million
** Dwango Establishes Music Publishing Company
** Label Gate Records One Million Downloads for December
** Listen Japan Starts Anime Music Download Service
** Universal to Offer Tracks on Mora

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++ FEATURE: Pushing Mobile Music With KDDI's EZ Channel

Since its launch over two years ago, KDDI's EZ Channel 'video
on demand' service has been steadily gaining subscribers in
Japan, and has been one of the key selling points for the carrier's
high-speed 3G network. The service offers a selection of 'channels'
that provide subscribers with short 2-3 minute video segments
of up to 3MB in size. Unlike most mobile content, however, each
new program episode is 'pushed' (downloaded automatically) to
the subscriber's phone late at night when network traffic is low.
The subscriber then wakes to find a new segment has arrived
and is free to view it any time until the next new episode comes
a few days later. Each new segment replaces the one currently
on the phone.

Until recently, there had been only two channels offering music
content. MORRICH is the name of a program offered by Sony
Music, while BEING GIZA mobile TV showcases artists managed
by the BEING agency, which includes popular Japanese acts such
as B'z, doa, and Garnet Crow. Both of these programs are
essentially promotional vehicles used to plug new or upcoming
releases. Typically, a segment includes a new video clip from the
artist being featured. As the video plays, cover art from the
upcoming release is displayed along with the date of release,
tour dates and other information.

Like the more recent WA-MO packs from Warner Mobile
(featured in MMW #90), EZ Channel programs use SMIL
(Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language, pronounced
'smile') to synchronize music and sound with video, images and
text. In fact, this technology made its debut with EZ Channel
programs and is now being used by other mobile content
providers to create new download offerings for the KDDI platform.
In addition to the text information and images, SMIL allows
content authors to include, for example, links to the company's
chaku-uta site during the program or at the end, following
the video.

Five new music programs for EZ Channel are scheduled to begin
in January and Februrary. Here is a quick rundown of the new
offerings:

1. Flux Yougaku - Western pop and rock from Warner Music.
2. X-Step - Devoted to street dance.
3. Artist Interview HIPHOP - Interviews with popular hip-hop artists.
4. Chaku-uta Ranking (free) - Rankings program for chaku-uta from
(who else?) Label Mobile
5. Chaku-uta Yougaku Ranking (free) - Save as #4, but for Western
music.

It's interesting to note that Label Mobile's chaku-uta rankings
programs will both be offered free of charge. No doubt these will
be used largely to drive viewers to their chaku-uta site with direct
links to download the top-ranked songs.

According to KDDI, there is no shortage of music content
providers eager to start programs for EZ Channel. While they
have kept the number of channels intentionally small for the first
two years, it appears that the carrier is ready to start expanding
the service this year. With more than 20 million 3G subscribers
(most of whom are on flat-rate data plans) on KDDI, this represents
a tremendous opportunity for the handful of music content providers
able to get their own channel.

++ UPCOMING EVENT: MIDEMNET FORUM AT MIDEM

The world's annual forum for digital & mobile music
21-22 January 2006, Cannes, France

Confirmed keynotes to date are NTT DoCoMo SVP & Managing
Director Multimedia Services Takeshi Natsuno; Warner Music
Group EVP Digital Strategy & Business Development Alex Zubillaga;
EMI Group Chairman Eric Nicoli; Ken Lombard, President of
Starbucks Entertainment; Patricia Langrand, EVP Content Division
for France Telecom, Nokia's EVP and GM Multimedia Anssi Vanjoki
and Connect Company Sony Corporation Co-President Koichiro
Tsujino.

For its 2006 edition, MidemNet forum will welcome both the world's
leading digital music experts and global authorities on mobile music.

Register on www.midem.com before December 20 and save 350
euros on your MidemNet Forum + MIDEM registration.

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++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS

** Chaku-uta Full Downloads Top 30 Million
In brief: On December 28, KDDI announced that a total of 30 million
ヤchaku-uta fullユ full-song tracks have been downloaded from its full-song
wireless download service. The chaku-uta full service launched in
November 2004, and there are now 70 sites on KDDI's menu, offering
a combined total of 110,000 tracks. As of the end of November 2005,
a total of 4.77 million handsets had been sold that are capable of
playing full-song tracks from the service.
Source:
http://plusd.itmedia.co.jp/mobile/articles/0512/28/news045.html

** Dwango Establishes Music Publishing Company
In brief: Dwango Inc., which operates the popular 'Iromero Mix' service
for ringtones and realtones, announced last month that it has established
a subsidiary company that will focus on rights acquisition and management
for mobile music content. The new company, called Dwango Music
Publishing, was officially established on December 26, and is 100%
owned by Dwango Inc.Source:
http://info.dwango.co.jp/pdf/ir/2005/20051221_dmp.pdf

** Label Gate Records One Million Downloads for December
In brief: On January 5, Label Gate announced that its Mora online
download service had racked up a record 1.05 million downloads for the
month of December. The company attributed the gain to its expanded
song catalog, which now offers more than 500,000 tracks.
Source:
http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/av/docs/20060106/label.htm

** Listen Japan Starts Anime Music Download Service
In brief: Last month, Listen Japan launched a new online music service
devoted to anime tracks. The new service is called 'Newtype BB Anime
Music Download' and offers a catalog of over 400 anime songs, priced
at 150 yen (US$1.30) per track.
Source:
http://plusd.itmedia.co.jp/lifestyle/articles/0512/21/news082.html

** Universal to Offer Tracks on Mora
In brief: On December 29, Universal Music Japan announced it would
begin selling its tracks on Label Gate's 'Mora' online download service.
The deal will bring tracks from prominent artists such as U2, Eminem,
AI and Thee Michelle Gun Elephant to the Mora online store.
Source:
http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/av/docs/20060105/label.htm

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STAFF
Written by: Steve Myers
(steve@thetamusic.com)

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