MMW-119 -- Japan's Music Media Publishers

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
Commentary on Japan's music technology news

Issue No. 119




++ FEATURE: Mixi's Music Features

** RIAJ releases sales figures for 2007
** New version of music engine from intermorphic
** Yamaha set to launch Tenori-on in Japan
** Sony releases new Walkman models
** Sony Music partners with Xing for lyric submission service

++ FEATURE: Mixi's Music Features

With over 10 million registered members and 1 million
communities, Mixi has dominated Japan's SNS scene since shortly
after its launch in 2004. The service is invitation-only, and
keeps a record of visitor 'footprints' (page views), allowing
members to see who else has viewed their own pages or journal
entries. Like MySpace in the west, Mixi has proven to be an
effective medium for music and live event promotion, and is now
used regularly as a marketing tool by Japanese musicians, record
labels and promoters.

Most music promotion is done through communities on Mixi devoted
to particular artists, genres or even record labels. Although
Mixi is fairly strict about prohibiting direct promotion within
communities, several enterprising members have found ways to
circumvent the restrictions. One independent promoter I spoke
with says the site has been especially useful for drawing
people's attention to lesser-known foreign artists.

This person frequently invites independent musicians from the
US to play a series of shows in Japan. After setting up a
community on Mixi for the artist, the promoter will post a
message on the pages of larger communities devoted to more
famous artists who share some similarities with the indie
musician. This results in a heavy increase in traffic, and
also - because of the footprint feature - allows the promoter
to see the usernames of all members who visited directly after
the post.

Recently, the major labels in Japan have also been getting in
on the act. On February 20, Sony Music Japan International
released a 16-song compilation CD of 80's music called 'MAX Mixi
Selection', for which Mixi users contributed their ideas and
opinions regarding song selection, jacket art and liner notes.
Sony kicked off the project by setting up a Mixi community
called 'Let's all make a CD!', and managed to attract 1,476
members who contributed ideas for the compilation.

Mixi has also set up its own music service called Mixi Music,
which encourages members to share their playlists and title/
artist info for their recently played songs. Users download a
free application called 'Mixi Station' that is used to upload
the metadata for songs that the users playes in Windows Media
Player or iTunes. The collected data appears on the user's
profile page, and is also used to compile 'Top 10' charts for
various genres.

The music service has come a long way since it was first
introduced in June of 2006. Many users figured out early on
that they could manipulate the rankings by changing the metadata
for a short file and playing it repeatedly throughout the week.
Using this technique, one group was able to get a thousand
year-old Buddhist chant up to #3 on the pop/rock rankings. These
types of problems were quickly fixed, though, and the current
charts appear much more indicative of what members are actually
playing on their PCs.

Mixi has continued to bolster its music service through tie-ups
with a strong set of partners to provide song lyrics, sample
listening and music information. The current offering is an
interesting combination of music recommendation and artist
information features. Competitors MySpace Japan and, more
recently, Nifty Corp. (through its new 'Human Music Community'
SNS) appear to be concentrating more on artist promotion,
providing incentives for independent artists to register.
However, the bigger challenge for these rival music SNS services
will be to attract and retain a Japanese member base that is as
large and loyal as that of Mixi.

-------- Job Fair for International Students & Careers ---------

The JOBFAIR will be held on March 8th in AKIHABARA.
This JOBFAIR is the biggest event for international students
and foreigners who are thinking about a career change in Japan:
50+ companies will attend seeking internationally-minded people!

JOBFAIR participants will have an opportunity
to visit company booths and ask HR about careers.

Some companies may have interviews on the day.
The JOBFAIR provides a great chance to meet many companies and
learn about them what they do and the people they need in a
short period of time.

DATE: March 8th /11:00 - 18:00


** RIAJ releases sales figures for 2007
In brief: On February 21, the Recording Industry Association of
Japan released its annual sales report for 2007. The sales data
shows a 26% increase in digital downloads over 2006, with a
total of 465 million units sold. Revenues from digital rose 41%
to JPY 75.5 billion (US$700 million). Master ringtones accounted
for nearly half of the total digital downloads, and mobile
downloads comprised over 93% of the total.

** New version of music engine from intermorphic
In brief: On February 12, London-based intermorphic Ltd
announced the release of v1.5 of the noatikl (pronounced 'noh
tickle') generative music engine. The new version of the engine
is able to harmonize and flux around an overall external musical
structure, creating MIDI notes and events which can be used to
drive samplers, synths and FX units.

** Yamaha set to launch Tenori-on in Japan
In brief: Yamaha Corporation has opened a Japanese promotional
website and scheduled a launch event in April for the Tenori-on,
the company's new electronic instrument. The Tenori-on consists
of a handheld screen with a 16x16 grid of LED switches that are
activated by touch to create a musical soundscape. The product
was first launched in London in September 2007 and has a
suggested retail price of US$1,200.

** Sony Music partners with Xing for lyric submission service
In brief: On February 25th, Sony Music began a new service in
partnership with Xing in which users of Xing's Pokemero mobile
music sites can submit their own lyrics. If the lyrics are
selected for use in a song, the writer will receive a royalty
from Sony. The first melody for which lyrics will be accepted is
from a Sony Music J-Pop group called Limelight.

** Sony releases new Walkman models
In brief: Sony announced last week the release of the NW-A230
Walkman - a new addition to the company's Walkman-A series of
players. The NW-A230 supports video playback and is equipped
with Bluetooth functionality. It is available in 16GB and 8GB
models which will sell for JPY 37,800 (US$350) and JPY 27,800
(US$257) respectively.


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Written by: Steve Myers (
Steve Myers is president and chief enthusiast of Theta Music
Technologies, which specializes in the development of
music-related software applications.

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"jp/hl?" Pretty sure, the answer is no