Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Japan Is Nearly The World's Largest Music Market

Japanese Music Market image
A recent report from the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) stated that Japan is poised to become the largest music market in the world. Yes, you read that right. In 2012, Japan was only 1.3% behind the United States in music sales even though it has only 41% of the population.

This seems to be a totally astounding figure, but as usual, the numbers don't tell the entire story. It seems that the Japanese market is a very different animal than the rest of the world. got to the bottom of the issue by asking Alan Swarts, who's a former VJ for MTV Japan and knows the landscape there very well. Here's why he thinks it's different:
1. Everything is more expensive in Japan. CD's there are about $30 US. 
2. CDs have a fixed price. Unlike everywhere else in the world, music, books, and DVD prices are protected by the government and can't be discounted. 
3. Obsessive collectors inflate the market. As a result, a hit act will usually release multiple packages containing concert DVDs, remixes and outtakes, which makes for stronger sales. 
4. There is no digital piracy. Hard to believe, but illegal downloading almost doesn't exist. Most people buy music from legal sources. Let's chalk that one up to the ingrained ethics of the population. 
5. Digital music is still in its infancy. Even though iTunes exists, it's been somewhat squelched by a very powerful recording industry there. Digital never caught on because the music industry, with the help from the government, never let it.
So there you have it. The music business is growing and thriving in Japan like nowhere else, but this might also be the only place where it can still happen. It will be interesting to see if streaming catches on, as Japanese users completely skip over downloads.

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