MMW-72 -- Chaku-uta Sites Expand on DoCoMo

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

Issue No. 72
Tuesday, March 1, 2005



++ FEATURE: Chaku-uta Sites Expand on DoCoMo


** Index Starts Online Music Fund for Indies Artists
** Yahoo Japan Starts Online Music Download Service
** Sony Releases New "Network Audio System"
** Taito Opens Vodafone Site for "V-kara" Karaoke Data
** Yamaha Brings "Melodic Lover" Chaku-uta Service to KDDI
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++ FEATURE: Chaku-uta Sites Expand on DoCoMo

Without a full-song mobile download service to compete with
KDDI's "Chaku-uta Full," NTT DoCoMo is nonetheless pushing
hard to increase awareness of its own chaku-uta (realtone)
services for 3G FOMA handsets on i-mode. As the release of
its 901i series of FOMA handsets continues, chaku-uta and
surround sound have become one of the carrier's selling
points for FOMA. In just the past few weeks, several new
services have launched, bringing the total number of i-mode
chaku-uta/chaku-motion sites to 115.

While 26 of these sites are mainly focused on J-Pop, many
of the other sites are devoted to niche markets for
particular musical genres. Here is a sample of some of
the current services offered and musical genres targeted:

1. Raggadio - Reggae
2. Kankoku Ryukou - Korean Pop
3. Alani Aloha Sound - Hawaiian
4. Sweet Old Music - American "Big Band Oldies"
5. Half Note Nama Jazz - Jazz

Most of these sites have been started by small companies who
managed to secure master licenses for Japan from record labels
in their respective genres. In addition to the music downloads,
they also offer news, interviews, video clips, tour
schedules and other info, making their services a combination
of mobile music store and music magazine.

For those involved in mobile music outside Japan, it might
seem surprising that so many small music services can
coexist on the same carrier portal. The proliferation of
these niche music services has been made possible largely
because DoCoMo takes only 9 percent of the total download
revenues. Contrast this with Verizon Wireless in the US
which demands close to 50 percent, and you begin to see
why there are so many opportunities for mobile music
content providers in Japan that simply don't exist in
markets where the carrier and record label each expect
to receive half of the download sales.

By keeping their fees reasonable, DoCoMo and the other
Japanese carriers have created an environment where a
small company can focus on a targeted musical niche and
still have a chance to make money. Rather than "squeezing"
the content providers, the carriers here encourage a
large number of providers to compete on their space.
This gives more choice to consumers, more opportunity
to content providers, and ultimately more revenue to

An interesting byproduct of this situation is that with
an estimated 28 million 3G subscribers in Japan,
independent record labels now have more opportunities
than ever before for promoting their music to a wide
audience via these sites. We will be watching in the
coming months to see if the increased exposure for indies
and niche music through mobile sites has any noticeable
effect on the overall music market here.


** Index Starts Online Music Fund for Indies Artists

In brief: Mobile contents provider Index Corp, in
conjunction with eBank Corp. and Music Securities Inc.,
has started a new online music investment fund in which
fans can invest in their favorite indies artists. The
investment is then used by the artist's record label for
CD production and promotion, and the investor receives
some percentage of CD sales. The minimum investment is
JPY 10,000 (US$95.24).

** Yahoo Japan Starts Online Music Download Service
In brief: On Feb. 24, Yahoo Japan started its own online
music store, "Yahoo Music Download," in conjunction
with Label Gate. Yahoo's service will use the same
system that powers Label Gate's "Mora" service, and
like Mora, Yahoo Music Download will only sell songs
in ATRAC-3 format.

** Sony Releases New "Network Audio System"
In brief: On March 15, Sony will begin selling a new
home audio system called "Net Juke NAS-A10," which comes
with a 40GB hard drive and Gracenote's CDDB music
recognition service. Playback and storage of files on
the HDD is limited to Sony's proprietary ATRAC-3 format,
and these files cannot be transferred out of the system.
The Net Juke supports the 'Any Music' broadband download
service, and songs can be downloaded from the service
directly to the system. Base price for the Net Juke
NAS-A10 is JPY63,000 (US$600.00)

** Taito Opens Vodafone Site for "V-kara" Karaoke Data
In brief: Taito announced last week that it is launching
a new site on Vodafone to distribute song data for its
"V-kara" karaoke game, in which players sing karaoke
into the phone and are then scored on their performance.
V-kara comes pre-installed on two Vodafone odels, the
V603SH and V603T. The new service will offer 3,200 songs
that can be used with the game.

** Yamaha Brings "Melodic Lover" Chaku-uta Service to KDDI
In brief: On Feb. 24, Yamaha opened its "Melodic Lover
Real Mix" chaku-uta (realtone) service on KDDI's EZWeb portal.
Focused on club music, the Melodic Lover service has a
catalog of 1,200 songs and will also feature video
clips and Flash screensavers.
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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.

Edited by J@pan Inc editor: (


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