Check out the title of this “feature,” which strongly resembles an opinion piece: “Digital duplication dragging Japan’s music industry down”
- The ease with which music CDs can be saved in digital format and copied has made getting hold of the songs you want to hear much cheaper than a few years ago. That’s all very fine — unless you are an artist in the music industry, of course.
Statistics from the Recording Industry Association of Japan show that the domestic output for music software in 1998 reached 607.4 billion yen. But by 2001 this had fallen to 503 billion yen.
Not surprisingly, sales of CDs have plummeted over the past few years. Two years ago 12 singles, including SMAP’s “Lion Heart” and Masaharu Fukuyama’s “Sakurazaka,” recorded sales of over 1 million copies, but the number halved last year. By the end of July this year, no singles had sold 1 million copies.
It’s a similar story for albums. Kazumasa Oda’s “Jiko Best,” Hikaru Utada’s “Deep River,” the B’z’ “Green,” Misia’s “Misia Greatest Hits,” and Mr. Children’s “It’s a Wonderful World,” hit 1 million copies this year, but that’s much fewer than the 17 albums that reached over 1 million sales by the same period the previous year.
Isamu Tomitsuka, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of Japan, says illegal copies are behind the slump in sales.
“With the advance of technology, people can now easily copy the digital data from CDs into their computers, and the number of illegal copies is increasing,” Tomitsuka said. “The damage is enormous. The rights of the producers are being violated, and if things keep going like this, we won’t be able to develop a music culture.”
The association is actively promoting copy-control CDs (CCCDs) that can’t be transferred into digital data. To avoid confusion among consumers, it plans to introduce a logo to put on CCCDs, and promote the discs at record companies.
Some companies have already started using CCCDs. Avex, which manages popular singer Ayumi Hamasaki, introduced its first copy-control CDs in March. By the end of July, it had converted about 90 percent of its CDs into CCCDs. And other firms including Toshiba EMI, Warner Music Japan and Pony Canyon are following suit.
Avex officials say young people have no qualms about copying and distributing music.
“Young people, who form the core of the music industry, buy CD-Rs for between 50 and 100 yen, and exchange copies with their friends as if that’s the normal thing to do,” an Avex representative said. “Illegal exchange and sharing of music files over the Internet is increasing.”
In a bid to encourage people to continue buying CDs, some companies have slashed prices. The price of a CD single in Japan usually costs about 1,000 yen, but in February this year, the group band Arashi put a single for just 500 yen, marketing it as something people could purchase for a single coin. Toshiba-EMI went even lower with “Zoka ga Warau,” a single released by new rock band Acidman. The song can be downloaded from the Internet for 300 yen.