MMW-63 -- Yamaha and MTV Japan Team Up On New Services

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

Issue No. 63
Wednesday, July 28, 2004



++ FEATURE: Yamaha and MTV Japan Team Up On New Services

** Faith Starts Services in Malaysia and Singapore
** Informa Report Predicts Boom For Portable Players
** Napster Continues To Sign Up Universities

++ EVENT: PremiumMusic Fair

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++ FEATURE: Yamaha and MTV Japan Team Up On New Services

From the very beginning of the mobile music boom in Japan, Yamaha Corp.
has positioned itself as both a content provider and a ringtone technology
vendor. By developing and licensing its own mobile music format (SMAF),
sound generation hardware (the MA-series chips), and ringtone creation
tools, the company has been able to leverage its MIDI expertise to make
it more competitive in the overall mobile music market.

Like other Japanese ringtone providers, though, Yamaha is now looking for
new directions in which to expand its thriving mobile music business.
While chaku-uta (real music tones) have proven popular, the difficulty of
obtaining rights to popular songs has been a major entry barrier for
ringtone providers. In addition, it is much easier to create chaku-uta
than it is to create a ringtone, and it seems to be only a matter of
time before products such as Xingtone catch on here and encourage users
to make their own chaku-uta from their favorite CDs and MP3s.

So these ringtone companies are faced with a dilemma -- they need to
provide some type of chaku-uta service in the short-term just to stay
current, but at the same time they must also avoid becoming too invested
in chaku-uta, so as not to miss the next big opportunity for MIDI-type
content providers. In the past few weeks, Yamaha has announced two new
services -- both in partnership with MTV Japan -- that provide some
insight into their strategy for dealing with this problem and
expanding their service offerings.

MTV Music Finder is the name of a new music recognition service that will
be offered by Yamaha and MTV Japan. The service will use a music recognition
technology provided by UK-based Shazam that allows users to identify songs
by dialing a 4-digit number and holding their phone up to the music source.
Once they have identified the track, users will then have the option
to download the Yamaha ringtone for the song. The Music Finder service
will be offered in Japan first on Vodafone and later on i-mode and au.

In addition to music recognition, Yamaha is also looking to expand its
target audience by teaming with MTV to offer a new movie information
service that provides video clips of movie trailers and actor interviews,
as well as ringtones and chaku-uta from movie soundtracks. This service,
called 'MTV Movies', was launched on July 20 in Japan on i-mode and
is targeted mainly at DoCoMo 3G users.

We checked out the movie service here and downloaded a trailer for
'Shrek 2.' The image and sound quality were not too bad, but the phone
could only play about 5 seconds of video at a time before pausing and
displaying a message saying that the next segment was being downloaded.
The video clips could not be saved on the phone, and a 20-second clip
could easily run over $5 in packet charges. Without some kind of
flat-rate packet plan, unsuspecting users (of which there is no
shortage here) could run up quite a bill using these types of

Despite the drawbacks, though, services such as 'MTV Movies' likely
represent the next wave of popular mobile entertainment services,
combining ringtones, chaku-uta and video offerings. By joining forces
with MTV Japan expanding into this area, Yamaha is able to reach a
whole new segment of potential ringtone and chaku-uta customers who
might otherwise never download a ringtone. As ringtone services
continue their evolution, we are likely to see many more similar
tie-ups between other providers and various artists, magazines,
TV and radio stations.

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** Faith Starts Services in Malaysia and Singapore

In brief: Faith Inc. announced last week that it would be starting new
mobile music download services in Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia,
Faith will provide a music contents distribution service for Maxis
scheduled to start in August. In Singapore, the company has developed a
similar system for carrier Star Hub that is set to launch by the end of

Source (Japanese only):

** Informa Report Predicts Boom For Portable Players

In brief: A recent study published by London-based Informa Media predicts
that there will be more than 21 million portable digital music players in
use by the end of this year, over 5 million of which will be iPods. The
report went on to say that while hardware vendors are expected to see
strong sales from the portable player boom, it is unclear whether record
companies will see much benefit.


** Napster Continues To Sign Up Universities

In brief: Napster announced last week that six more universities have
signed up for its legal digital music download service. Napster is
currently pursuing a strategy of contacting university officials and
offering low-priced subscriptions.


++ EVENT: PremiumMusic Fair

In brief: The PremiumMusic Fair will take place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at
Potsdammer Platz in Berlin. This fair aims to to bring together exhibitors
(indie labels, producers, repertoire owners) with music content providers
and others who need music. The PremiumMusic fair is organized in a similar
way to a fashion fair, with no presentation booths and an emphasis on
communication and networking.

More information:

Subscribers: 2,720 as of July 28, 2004

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.

Edited by J@pan Inc editor: (


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