MMW-97 -- Reason To Cheer At RIAJ

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

Issue No. 97
Wednesday, April 26, 2006



++ FEATURE: Reason To Cheer At RIAJ

** MUSIC MATTERS ・The Asia Pacific Music Forum
** Khronos Group Tokyo Mobile Developer University

** LISMO Music Store to Open on May 17
** Kimeru Live Recording Available for Mobile Download Immediately After Show
** NTT DoCoMo's MUSIC PORTER X Debuts With Hefty Price Tag
** Oricon Launches New Music Info Site
** New iPod Audio Systems From Yamaha
** Colombia Starts Chaku-uta Full Service on Vodafone

++ FEATURE: Reason To Cheer At RIAJ

Last week, the Record Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ)
released production figures for the first quarter of 2006 along
with its annual analysis of production results from 2005 and
trends for the coming year. These two reports are based on
data compiled from its 41 member companies in Japan, and
together provide some interesting facts about the current
state of the Japanese record industry.

1. Yearly production of CDs and DVDs increased for the first
time in seven years.
For the one-year period from April 2005 through March
2006, Japanese record companies produced JPY 431.3 billion
(US$3.7 billion) worth of CDs and DVDs. This marks a 3% rise
for CDs and 16% increase for DVDs over the previous year.
The RIAJ also reported a 6% increase in the number of CDs
manufactured and 42% increase in the number of DVDs produced.

2. Digital download sales more than doubled in 2005.
For calendar 2005, the RIAJ reported that sales from
digital downloads came to JPY 34.3 billion (US$290 million),
which is more than double the JPY 15 billion reported for

3. Mobile downloads accounted for over 94% of all download
sales in 2005.
Even with the entry of Apple's iTunes and many other
players to the online music space last year, the sales from
online downloads to PCs was absolutely dwarfed by that of
mobile downloads. And this only includes mastertones and full-track
downloads - it does not even take into account the much larger
number of polyphonic ringtones downloaded in the same period!

At present, it appears that the upward trends will continue
in Japan this year for CDs, DVDs and downloads. The RIAJ
attributes the turnaround for CDs to publicity and promotion
generated by the online and mobile services, especially
iTunes and chaku-uta full. These sites attract millions of
Japanese music fans daily, and are used to promote packaged
products in addition to the downloadable music files. In
fact, mobile customers here are often willing to pay for
mobile content that is essentially promotional in nature.

The Japanese record industry has also been clever about
pricing downloadable content so as not to cut too deeply
into sales of its packaged products. Full-song mobile
downloads still go for around 300 yen (US$2.50), while
online downloads are about half that amount. Mastertones
(chaku-uta) are now commonly used as the introduction
media for new releases, with highly anticipated singles
from popular artists first made available only in mastertone
format for a week before the CD comes out. Here again,
the customer pays for a mobile download which effectively
serves to advertise and promote the upcoming CD.

We should also point out that file sharing and P2P use in
Japan has never reached the levels seen in the West. The
P2P program 'Winny' enjoyed a period of popularity, but the
highly publicized arrest of its author (a university
Computer Science professor) was enough to turn most Japanese
away from P2P altogether. In fact, a bigger perceived threat
to the record industry was seen in the form of 'CD rental
shops'. As shown in the RIAJ report, though, these shops
have decreased in number for each of the last 16 years,
dropping from a peak of 6,213 in 1989 down to just 3,225
in 2005.

And finally, by pooling their content and resources into
a joint venture company called 'Label Mobile', the major
record labels here have managed to obtain a virtual lock
on the mobile download space. Label Mobile's site is the
only one where you will find extensive offerings from every
label, and according to a recent survey conducted by the
Mobile Content Forum, this site now accounts for roughly
68% of all chaku-uta downloads.

So with CDs back on the rise, DVDs and digital downloads
continuing to climb, and a firm grip on the mobile sector,
2006 is so far giving the RIAJ reason to cheer.


** MUSIC MATTERS ・The Asia Pacific Music Forum, held in
Hong Kong on May 10-11, 2006, announces a thought-provoking,
challenging and insightful programme. Examining and
debating the key issues of Asia's music and entertainment
industry from a global perspective, MUSIC MATTERS is a
must attend for those with a stake in the future of the
entertainment industry. Taking no prisoners, it highlights
today's most pressing issues and uncovers the world of
tomorrow's opportunities.
More information:

** Khronos Group Tokyo Mobile Developer University April
28, 2006. Free series of seminars on creating mobile
content for Open GL ES,SL ES and other Khronos specifications.
Nathan Charles, Creative, will present a seminar on
Open SL ES (Open Sound Language for Embedded Systems).
More information:


** LISMO Music Store to Open on May 17
In brief: KDDI announced last week that it will launch its
highly anticipated LISMO Music Store on May 17. The new
online music store was developed in cooperation with
Excite, and will offer full song tracks and mastertones
that can be downloaded to the PC and then transferred
to the phone. Customers will be able to have purchases
put on their monthly phone bills, eliminating the need
for a credit card.

** Kimeru Live Recording Available for Mobile Download
Immediately After Show In brief: Kimeru, a Japanese 'idol'
popular among teenage girls, will hold a concert on May 28,
and recordings of all songs from the show will be distributed
for mobile phone download immediately following the show.
Distribution will be through the mobile site of music
satellite channel 'MUSIC ON! TV.' This is believed to be
the first offering of its kind anywhere in the world.

** NTT DoCoMo's MUSIC PORTER X Debuts With Hefty Price Tag
In brief: NTT Docomo released 'MUSIC PORTER X', its latest
music phone. The phone features an internal memory of 1GB,
and retails at around JPY 50,000(US$425), the highest
price yet for any NTT DoCoMo handset. The new phone also
allows recording of audio satellite broadcasts through
the carriers 'Moba HO!' service.

** Oricon Launches New Music Info Site
In brief: Oricon Mobile launched a music information site
called 'ORICON STYLE mobile' for i-mode, EZweb and Vodafone
on April 20. The site is a mobile phone version of the PC
site 'ORICON STYLE,' which offers news, ranking and
information related to music. Oricon is not charging users
for access to the site and is instead looking to earn revenue
from advertising on the service. At the end of May the
company plans to expand its content to include search
functionality for sites offered by chaku-uta and chaku-uta
full providers.

** New iPod Audio Systems From Yamaha
In brief: On April 18, Yamaha released three new audio
systems designed for use with portable music players such
as Apple's iPod. The three systems include a 'Living Room Audio
System' for home theaters, a smaller 'Casual Space Audio System'
and the compact 'My Room Audio System'.

** Colombia Starts Chaku-uta Full Service on Vodafone
In brief: On April 12, Colombia Music Entertainment announced
a new music distribution service for Vodafone mobile phones.
The new site is called 'Mobile Colombia Full' and will offer
full-song downloads through the Vodafone Live portal. Columbia
began its first chaku-uta full service for KDDI in December
2005, and plans to have the service on NTT DoCoMo when that
carrier begins its widely anticipated (though not yet
unannounced) full-song service in the future.
Subscribers: 4,749 as of April 25, 2006

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 editors: (


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