TOPGlobal Music Sales Down Due to a Weak Year in Japan

Global Music Sales Down Due to a Weak Year in Japan

By Alec Jordan

Music sales in Japan plunged to new lows in 2013, leaving a dent in global figures as the world’s second-largest music market struggles to keep up with digital trends.

Physical music consumption, particularly in CDs, fell 16.7 percent, dragging down worldwide figures by 3.9 percent, according to the global recording industry body, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Japanese music sales, which account for more than a fifth of global revenues, slumped from $3.616 billion to $3.012 billion this year. International music revenues fell from $15.652 billion to $15.029 billion.

Japan largely relies on physical sales of music such as CDs, but the format has seen a steady decline over the years. Interest in download or streaming services so far has been largely muted in the country.

The sharp decline is due in part to a music industry dominated by a few major players that has failed to make a digital transition, the IFPI said.

“The three majors are different in Japan because it’s Sony, Universal and an independent called Avex, and they only make up about half the market; the other half of the market is made up of about 40 independents,” said Max Hole, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group International.

“In a consensual society it’s amazingly difficult to build consensus in Japan, which is part of the background for the problems that we find ourselves in.”

The IFPI said in its annual report that overall digital sales went up by 4.3 percent with subscription music services.

Subscription services, notably Spotify, have grown more than 50 percent globally in the past year, while the US market surpassed $1 billion for the first time.

Digital consumption in Europe was up 13.3 percent. Dominated by streaming services, markets across the world were surprisingly stable, excluding Japan’s data.

Image: “ねごと – シンクロマニカ (J-Pop 365 – January 15, 2014)” by Dennis Amith/Flickr