MMW-89 -- Podcasting Expands in Japan

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

Issue No. 89
Wednesday, November 23, 2005


++ FEATURE: Podcasting Expands in Japan
** Label Mobile Ditches Monthly Subscription System
** Three New Japanese Wireless Carriers Approved By Government
** Review of Sharp SH902i Music Features
** Vibe Partners With HMV Japan on Chaku-uta
** Buffalo Teams With Pokemelo Joysound on Free Chakumelo Campaign

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++ FEATURE: Podcasting Expands in Japan

These days, it seems like iPods are everywhere in Tokyo. Apple
recently opened a large iPod 'showroom' store in the heart of
Tokyo's Shibuya district, right down the street from one
of NTT DoCoMo's largest shops. Apple currently holds an estimated
60% of the Japanese market for digital music players,
with much of the gain coming just in the past year. And it's
hard not to notice the rapidly increasing number of
iPod users on the Tokyo trains today.

It comes as little surprise then, that podcasting is also
poised for a big breakthrough in Japan. The past few months
have seen a sharp increase in the number of Japanese podcast
programs offered, especially those with music-related content.
In particular, these programs are now being used to introduce
new songs, broadcast live concerts, and promote indies labels.

Among the more prominent programs to launch recently is one
from Being Giza Group, an agency that is home to popular
J-Pop artists such as B'z, ZARD and Mai Kuraki. In addition
to artist commentary, each program includes 60- to 90-second
samples of three new songs. The group also produces a talk
show program called 'Supakuru,' which features three high
school girls who also present their own music.

FM Interwave, which is connected to the popular FM radio
station 'InterFM,'launched a podcast program last month
called 'Marunouchi Cool Struttin' that features live performances
from famous jazz musicians. Nagoya-based ndies label abcdefg*
records also recently started its own podcast to distribute
and promote music from its artists.

Most major Japanese record labels, however, have so far
declined to offer their music through podcast programs,
citing copyright concerns. These labels are also presently
focusing the bulk of their resources on the mobile music
market (particularly chaku-uta full), which still dwarfs
the market for online downloads in Japan.

So for the time being, it appears podcasting will continue
to be used mainly as a promotional tool here for independent
labels and artists who are not tied to major record companies.
As the number of subscribers and variety of programs increase,
however, expect JASRAC, JRC (Japan Rights Clearance) and
other copyright organizations to become more involved in
procuring and administering rights for using music in
podcast programs.

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21-22 January 2006, Cannes, France

Confirmed keynotes to date are NTT DoCoMo SVP Takeshi Natsuno;
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** Label Mobile Ditches Monthly Subscription System
In brief: On Nov. 16, Label Mobile changed its billing system
for all eleven of its i-mode sites offering chaku-uta and
chaku-motion. Up to now, Label Mobile had charged a monthly
subscription fee that allowed customers to download a fixed
number of tracks per month. With the new system, customers are
charged on a per-download basis, but still required to
complete a free registration form.

** Three New Japanese Wireless Carriers Approved By Government
In brief: The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and
Communications announced the acceptance of three new wireless
carriers: BB Mobile from the Soft Bank group, e-Mobile, a
subsidiary of e-Access, and IP-Mobile. All three carriers plan
to offer data services and will launch their new platforms
between October 2006 and April 2007.

** Review of Sharp SH902i Music Features
In brief: A recent IT-Plus article reviews the upcoming Sharp
SH902i handset for i-mode. The SH902i includes SD-Audio support
and is Sharp's first phone to feature a full-scale music player.
The handset allows full use of the browser and mail functions
while listening to music, and player control buttons are included
on the outside of the phone, allowing the music player to be
used while the phone is in the 'closed' or folded-up position.

** Vibe Partners With HMV Japan on Chaku-uta
In brief: On November 14. HMV Japan announced that it will
collaborate with Vibe to start its Chaku-melody and Chaku-uta
service in December. HMV Japan will supply most of the content,
and Vibe will operate the site.

** Buffalo Teams With Pokemelo Joysound on Free Chakumelo Campaign
In brief: Buffalo, a maker of SD- and miniSD memory cards, has
partnered with XING's Pokemelo Joysound service to offer three
free chaku-melo songs to customers who purchase one of Buffalo's
cards. The free chaku-melo campaign will start on December 1 and
continue through the end of the month.

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Written by: Steve Myers