CD sales remain rock solid in Japan – but J-Pop has a stranglehold

“Wasn’t the CD supposed to be dead by now?”

That was Ministry Of Sound boss Lohan Presencer’s stinging rebuke to so-called industry sages last week. The format still contributes 65% of his label’s income.

His point is further solidified today with MBW analysis of stats coming out of the world’s second biggest recorded music market, Japan.

Although the RIAJ is yet to hand us digital music sales figures, we do have physical music stats for the first half of the year.

And the big news is, in value terms… nothing’s changed.

The CD market took 92.123bn Yen (approx $750m) in H1 2015, hardly down at all from the 92.391bn Yen (approx $750m) posted in the same period a year before.

Meanwhile, Japan’s thriving music video market continues to show its strength, actually growing ever-so-slightly from 35.37bn Yen (approx $290m) in H1 2014 to 36.07bn Yen (approx $290m) in the first six months of this year.

All of this bodes well for the IFPI‘s global music figures this year: in 2014, Japan’s fall in CD sales was ultimately the biggest culprit in a global decline in recorded music revenues.


So has anything changed in Japan at all this year?

We’ll have to wait for the digital market stats to come in: Q1 2015’s figures suggest that album downloads will be up (+13%), track downloads will be slightly down (-4%), ringtones will be hit hard (-30%) and streaming subscriptions will be up by around 50%… to around the same value as album downloads.

But don’t get carried away: streaming took 2.34bn Yen in Q1 ($20m) – equivalent to around 3.8% of the total market, and that’s not including music video.

For now, let’s get our teeth into these new stats… which, we’re afraid, don’t make pretty reading for record companies outside of Japan.

The J-Pop-loving country bought international music to the tune of 10.56bn Yen ($90m) in H1 2015.

That was dwarfed by the 81.57bn Yen ($660m) it spent on homegrown artists.

Conclusion: the gulf between those two markets appears to be growing ever wider.

And J-Pop’s stranglehold on music sales is only getting stronger.


[Pictured: Bangtan Boys, whose ‘For You’ recently climbed to the top of the Hot 100 in Japan.]Music Business Worldwide

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