Towering In Japan

The news last month that MTS, the company that operated Tower Records in the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection was reported extensively in Japan, where Tower Records remains a fairly prominent record store chain.

According to the Recording Industry Association of Japan, music downloads during the first half of this year in the country increased by 70 percent over the same period last year, while CD sales increased by 2 percent over the same period.

While the percentage of downloaded music sales is roughly the same in Japan as in America – about 10 percent – the association deems that, unlike in the U.S., this trend will not hurt CD sales in Japan.

The main reason for this conclusion is Japan’s rapidly aging society. According to the association’s research, CDs are overwhelmingly purchased by people in their 30s and 40s – about 40 percent of all CDs are bought by this demographic.

The demographic that includes teens and persons in their 20s accounted for about half of Japan’s population in the ’90s, but now this demographic is only 30 percent of the population.

They spend a larger portion of their disposable income on cell phones and prefer to download. As long as the older population continues to grow in relation to the younger population, the RIAJ believes “downloads and CDs can coexist.”

– Philip Brasor