A quick guide to Japan’s music market

Japan is one of the world’s most important, and most misunderstood, markets for recorded music in the world.

According to IFPI stats, Japan is the world’s second biggest territory for records, generating around three-quarters of the US market. In 2013, Japan’s recorded music industry turned over $3.2 billion – down by a scary 15% year-on-year.

As well as providing an in-depth Yearbook covering the Japan maket in 2013 – which you can read on MBW through here – the RIAJ, the local Japanese recorded music trade body, has provided a series of answers to key questions about the market:

What kind of distribution system exists for records in Japan?

There are two major channels for supplying products in the general market. The first involves record companies with their own sales divisions directly contracting with record stores. The second involves sales and distribution via wholesalers. The record companies store their records at one of two warehousing firms and deliver the records from there.

What is the condition and impact of record rentals in Japan?
There are now almost no shops that illegally rent records. The shops pay a use fee [to righsholders] in accordance with their contracts and the system is working smoothly.

What are the major purchasing groups for musical records?

Overall, men and women in their teens and twenties purchase the greatest number of records and Japanese pop and rock music is particularly popular among them. However, recently the purchasing rate among people aged 30-59 has been rising.

How much do records cost in Japan?

A full priced new CD album costs between JPyen2,500 (US$23) and 3,000 (US$28). The unique Japanese resale price maintenance system (price designation by record companies) remains and there has been no dramatic drop in prices.

What musical genres are there and how many newly released titles are there?

Among Japanese music, there is enka (Japanese country), pops, traditional Japanese folk music, educational and children’s music based on fairy tales, animation music, easy listening music (instrumental), karaoke and such. As for overseas, rock, disco, jazz, pops, soundtracks, classical and other records are sold at stores.

What types of record awards and certification systems are there?

Japan has the Gold Disc Awards. The ceremony for these awards is held once a year by RIAJ as the organizer and the ceremony is broad casted on satellite and terrestrial TV broadcasting programs. As for certification systems, the industry has the Gold Disc, Platinum Disc and other certifications. These are announced once a month through industry magazines, websites and such.

Is there a system for protecting the right of records?

In Japan, the copyright of records is protected by the system of neighbouring rights. This includes exclusive rights of reproduction, transfer, making transmittable and lending; and the rights to claim secondary use fee (broadcasting fee of records) and the remmuneration for rental record (following a one year rental right), and the right to receive compensation for private audio and video recording.

These rights are equally granted to record producers of the countries that are members of international conventions covering record rights.

[Pictured: South Korean girl band Girls’ Generation, who record tailored Japanese-language albums for the Japan market. Their latest, 2013’s Love & Peace, hit No.1 on the territory’s Oricon weekly chart]Music Business Worldwide

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