JIN-163 -- Making Sense of Music Media

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R
Commentary on the week's business and technology news

Issue No. 163
Wednesday, January 9, 2001


++ Viewpoint: Making Sense of Music Media
++ Noteworthy News
- Fast Retailing Turns to Veggies as Clothing Profit Falls
- Yen Touches 133 Level Against Dollar
- CNN Shuts Down Japanese Web Site
++ Events

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++ VIEWPOINT: Making Sense of Music Media -- J@Pan Inc Adds a New
Member to Its Newsletter Family

I have ruined Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" for my
4-year-old daughter. I played it the other day, and she said, "Sounds
like Daddy's phone." I immediately changed my ring tone to "Virtual
Insanity" by Jamiroquai. No more classics for me.

Anyone reading this outside Japan may not be aware that the country
is abuzz with ring tone jingles. Cellphones don't just ring anymore
-- they play Eric Clapton hits or salsa numbers or the Batman Theme.
And the selling of these little tunes have ballooned into a
multibillion dollar business.

Giga Networks announced that the most popular song to download in the
year from December 1, 2000, through November 30, 2001, was "Johnny
the Surfer" by Keisuke Kuwata (more than 1.4 million downloads), and
the artist with the most downloaded songs was Ayumi Hamasaki --
her songs were downloaded a total of more than 7 million times.

Hikaru Utada's "Final Distance" was the most popular song by a female
artist (more than 1.1 million downloads), and Mariah Carey's "All I
Want for Christmas is You" was the most popular song by a
non-Japanese (691,466 downloads). As many as 153,082 people in Japan
downloaded "The Star Spangled Banner" for their ring tones,
surpassing even "Kimigayo" -- is this the September 11th effect, or
is playing "Kimigayo" on a ring tone somehow not quite acceptable?

Giga Networks runs the first site on the i-mode menu that handles
downloadable jingles, so its stats are a pretty good reflection of
patterns throughout Japan. It had more than 4.6 million members as of
the end of November, according to AsiaBizTech (see link below).

But music media is much more than ring tones, and that's why we've
decided to launch Music Media Watch -- affectionately known as M
squared -- from January 15 of this month.

M squared will be written by Steve Myers, who has been developing
musical software applications for over 10 years. He heads the Theta
team at Linc Media Group's Layer-8 Technologies, which specializes in
the development of music-related software and technologies. He also
plays guitar at live houses around Tokyo with his band, Moonshots

I asked Steve what possessed him to take on the task of cranking out
a weekly newsletter. Here's his reply: "Music media -- a field which
covers just about everything related to the creation and distribution
of music -- is one of the healthiest and fastest growing segments of
the Japanese economy. From DTM (desktop music) to the multibillion
dollar ring tone download industry, developments in music media are
creating unheard of opportunities for artists and businesses alike.
Because this fast-changing technology is often shrouded in secrecy,
there is a strong need for independent news commentary from people
who actually work day-to-day in the music media field. I am extremely
excited to have this opportunity to share my discoveries and opinions
with other music lovers."

M squared will be sent out every Tuesday; you should be able to
subscribe to it at our Web site in a couple of days (in the meantime,
just send an email to editors@japaninc.com with the message "M
squared subscribe" in the subject line, and we'll make sure you are
on our list).

-- Bruce Rutledge

News on ring melodies from AsiaBizTech:

KWR International
The KWR International Advisor highlights the real implications of
important economic, political and financial trends as they appear
on the global horizon. To access your copy and obtain a free
subscription, Go to:
or contact:

(Long URLs may break across two lines.)

** Fast Retailing Turns to Veggies as Clothing Profit Falls

Extract: Fast Retailing, owner of the popular Uniqlo brand of casual
clothes, reported that profit for the year through August 2002 would
fall for the first time in 14 years. It cut forecasts for profit by
24 percent to 45 billion yen and for sales 6.8 percent to 390 billion

The company, which has created a fad for low-priced fleece jackets and
casual wear in the last couple of years, also announced
that it would move into the food market by selling vegetables. Fast
Retailing will have complete control over the production, distribution
and retailing of its vegetables, according to Asahi Shimbun, one of
Japan's leading newspapers, but it will not use the Uniqlo brand name,
and it will use veggies made in Japan.

Fast Retailing will receive technical assistance from Nagata
Agricultural Research Institute in Tokyo. "The vegetables made by
Nagata are to the agricultural products market what Rolls-Royce is to
the auto market," Fast Retailing President Tadashi Yanai was quoted
as saying. "But our vegetables will be for the masses, just like the
(Toyota) Corolla."

Commentary: People have been talking about the second coming of the
Uniqlo effect, but is **this** it? With his casual clothes line, Yanai
kept costs down by making everything in China. How is he going to
control prices of domestically grown vegetables so that they really are
for the masses? We're a tad skeptical but interested all the same.

From the BBC:

From Asahi Shimbun (in English):


J@pan Inc magazine produces two other newsletters:

++ Wireless Watch (WW): Mondays -- A weekly digest of news
and commentary focusing on Japan's wireless industry. Stay up to date
on i-mode, 3G phones and everything else wireless with WW.

++ Gadget Watch (GW): Thursdays -- Looks at the latest gadgets
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"Japan gadget envy" that develop -- in many cases the products you'll
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** Yen Touches 133 Level Against Dollar

Extract: The yen continued its slide in early trading on Wednesday,
briefly hitting the 133 level against the dollar for the first time
since October 1998 before returning to 132.59 at 1:50 this afternoon.

Commentary: Government officials have been talking down the yen for
some time, and exporters are happy to see the slide continue. But no
one wants it to get out of control. That's why chief government
spokesman Yasuo Fukuda tried to put the brakes on the decline at a
daily press conference today. "The pace of the yen's decline has been
a bit rapid recently," he told reporters, but he also called the level
of the yen "manageable," according to Bloomberg News.

News from Bloomberg:

Latest yen-dollar rate:

** CNN Shuts Down Japanese Web Site

Extract: CNN shut down the Japanese version of its Web site --
cnn.co.jp -- at the end of 2001. The broadcaster said the move
was temporary, and it would be concentrating on wireless or mobile
editions in the future. CNN news is still available through i-mode in

Commentary: This comes just three months after cnn.co.jp saw its
reach, or Internet audience, surge after the September 11 attacks. It
had a 1.2 point share of the Web audience in the week of September
10-16, which was on par with the largest Japanese newspapers. But
wireless is where it's at in Japan, and that's why there is one less
news source on the desktop for the Japanese.

From AsiaBizTech:

A message (in Japanese) from CNN:

EVENTS (Advertisement)

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SUBSCRIBERS: 4,940 as of January 9, 2001

Written by Bruce Rutledge (bruce@japaninc.com) and Sumie Kawakami

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