MMW-75 -- Full Song Mobile Downloads Continue to Soar in Japan

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

Issue No. 75
Monday, April 11, 2005



++ FEATURE: Full Song Mobile Downloads Continue to Soar in Japan

** Stage Set for Showdown Between FTC and Record Labels
** Dwango Ties Up With Tokyo FM on Mobile Packet Radio Service
** Faith Acquires Brazilian Contents Provider for $35 Million
** Yamaha Launches Mobile Video Karaoke Service
** Sony Releases 20GB Network Walkman Player

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++ FEATURE: Full Song Mobile Downloads Continue to Soar in Japan

KDDI announced last week that its full-song master ringtone
download service, Chaku-uta full, has surpassed 5 million
downloads since its launch in November of last year. In
addition, the pace of full-song master ringtone downloads
(chaku-uta full) has nearly doubled in the last month, with
2 million downloads recorded in the period from March 1
to April 3.

Here is a summary of the progress so far:

Nov. 19, 2004: Service starts
Jan. 5 2005: 1 million downloads reached
Feb. 5 2005: 2 million downloads reached
Mar. 1 2005: 3 million downloads reached
Mar. 17 2005: 4 million downloads reached
Apr. 3 2005: 5 million downloads reached

Remarkably, the first 3 million downloads were achieved
despite the fact that the service was only available on
four handsets. The recent acceleration of downloads is
due in part to the release of new models supporting Chaku-uta
Full. Three new models were released in the past few weeks -
Kyocera's W31K, Sanyo's W31SA and a new au Design Project
model called 'PENCK' - and a fourth - Sony Ericsson's
W31S - is also expected to hit the stores this month. This
will bring the total number of "Chaku-uta Full" phones to
eight, with several more expected later in the year.

Chaku-uta Full has become a major selling point for KDDI,
and the carrier is strongly emphasizing mobile music in its
marketing campaigns. Four of the eight chaku-uta phones
also feature FM radio with 'on air' information and links
to download the songs. The new Sony Ericsson goes a step
further and includes a digital music player and software to
transfer music files (ATRAC-3) from PC to phone.

At present, there are 24 sites for Chaku-uta Full on KDDI's
au portal offering a combined total of around 22,000 tracks.
The service is still largely controlled by the Japanese
record labels, who set pricing and licensing terms, and work
primarily through their joint venture content provider Label
Mobile. The success of chaku-uta in Japan has many other
content providers eager to start their own full-song download
services, and the labels are now under increased pressure to
issue more licenses to third-party providers other than Label
Mobile (see related newsbrief below).

In any event, there is no question that KDDI's full-song
service has been an unqualified success so far. Not since the
peak of the ringtone boom has a carrier been so eager to
issue regular press releases about its download numbers.
We will continue to closely watch the Chaku-uta Full service
to see if KDDI can maintain this momentum.

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** Stage Set for Showdown Between FTC and Record Labels
In brief: Of the five record labels that were issued
warnings last month by the Japanese Fair Trade Commission
(see MMW #74), four have refused to comply, saying that
the facts stated in the warnings are innaccurate. Sony
Music, Toshiba EMI, Avex, Universal Music, and Victor
Entertainment were all cited in the FTC warning as
currently engaging in illegal business practices due to
their refusal of licenses to third-party mobile music
content providers. Toshiba EMI has applied for and received
a two-week extension until April 18 to answer the charges.
The other four labels have refused to accept the changes
advised by the FTC, setting the stage for a legal showdown
in the coming months.

** Dwango Ties Up With Tokyo FM on Mobile Packet Radio Service
In brief: Dwango announced on March 30 that it had entered
into a collaboration with Tokyo FM Music Entertainment to offer
content for 'Pake Raji', its packet-based mobile radio service.
Several new programs produced by Tokyo FM began airing on the
Pake Raji service on April 1. Dwango also announced that in
its first month of service, Pake Raji has had over 650,000
accesses, with an average of around 20,000 people per day tuning
into at least one program.

** Faith Acquires Brazilian Contents Provider for $35 Million
In brief: Tokyo-based Faith Inc. announced on March 31 that
it had acquired Curupira S.A., a Brazilian provider of ringtones
for US$35 million. Curupira, which operates under the brand
name 'TakeNET' Curupira, will become a fully-owned subsidiary
of Faith Inc.

** Yamaha Launches Mobile Video Karaoke Service
In brief: On April 4, Yamaha Corp. started a new video
karaoke service on NTT DoCoMo's i-mode portal. Called 'Movie
Karaoke', the new service features video clips which play
along with the animated lyrics of each song. Available only on
FOMA 3G phones, the service has an initial catalog of 50 J-Pop
songs, with 8 new songs to be added each week.

** Sony Releases 20GB Network Walkman Player
In brief: On April 21, Sony will begin selling its NW-HD5
Network Walkman, which features a battery life of 40 hours.
The NW-HD5 has a 20GB hard disk, and is able to play music
files in the standard MP3 format as well as Sony's own ATRAC-3
format. The player is priced at around JPY 35,000 (US$327.00)
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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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