According to data compiled by Daiichi Kosho, a leading Japanese karaoke system manufacturer, the most sung karaoke song in Japan during 2008 was Kiseki, by the band GReeeen.
If you're not familiar with Japanese pop music (J-POP), take a few minutes and watch the video. The tune is a pretty typical example of the kind of music that appeals to the Japanese mass market.
This past Tuesday, November 11, Tower Records Japan launched the first in what is expected to be an extensive chain of smaller format shops in Japan. Operating under the name "Tower Mini," the new stores are going to be about one-tenth the size of standard locations and carry about 20% of the product, mainly focusing on new releases and the existing catalogs of popular Japanese and western artists. Location-wise, the company is targeting spots in or around train stations and will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, allowing the shops to cater more easily to students and workers both on their way to and from school or the office. On week-ends, store hours will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tower already has 78 locations in major commercial areas around Japan. The smaller stores are expected to allow the company to expand more easily, filling in gaps not served in otherwise saturated areas.
The first shop is located in the Keio underground mall area of Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.
Tapping into nostalgia felt by Japanese in their 30's, 40's and 50's, as well as the curiosity of younger club-goers who were too young to experience the decadence of Japan's bubble and post bubble-era discos, the AVEX Groups has been bringing back the dance halls for one-night stands in Tokyo.
In early September AVEX revived Juliana's Tokyo to celebrate the company's 20th anniversary in an event that drew over 13,000 people. The original Juliana's was a joint effort between British and Japanese concerns and was open just three years, from 1991 to 1994, but it created a sensation thanks to its use of platforms that young, normally shy Japanese women eagerly mounted to dance provocatively in skimpy "bodcon" fashion (you can get a sense for what the club was like by checking out these videos here and here. Note: watch at your own risk. These videos are not intended for those under 18.)
If you missed the event, not to worry. Later this year and in January 2009, AVEX has plans to bring back other 80's and 90's discos such as Twin Star, Velfarre and Maharaja for one-offs, as well. Here's a list of dates and venues:
According to the Recording Industry Association of Japan, paid music downloads in Japan for the first half of 2008 were up 28% (value basis) versus the same period last year. Of the various categories the RIAJ follows, music videos downloaded to PC were 2.35 times higher, marking the greatest increase in terms of value. Conversely, ringtunes downloaded to cell phones were down the most, showing just 86% of the value of those purchased in 2007.
For details on all of the categories, click the below graphic.
Figures from a recent Japanese government survey show that commerce conducted through mobile phones in Japan is expanding at a very healthy pace. According to the report, sales of goods and services were up 27%, while total revenues, which include both sales accrued from goods and services and fee-based content, expanded by 23%.
From an Apple press release that went out yesterday:
Softbank (SBM) and Apple® today announced that the highly anticipated iPhone™ 3G will be available in Japan on July 11. iPhone 3G combines all the revolutionary features of iPhone with 3G networking that is twice as fast* as the first generation iPhone, built-in GPS for expanded location based mobile services, and iPhone 2.0 software which includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and runs the hundreds of third party applications already built with the recently released iPhone SDK.
Just after Christmas last year, Tower Records Japan announced that it was introducing a clever new advertising system that may prove to be a win-win-win situation for Tower, consumers and the companies that participate in the new program.
Here's how it works. Tower finds companies that are trying to reach music-loving consumers and charges them for ads that will then be included in the packaging of newly released CDs that Tower sells. Additionally, Tower works with record companies who want to promote artists that could benefit from the link to advertised products. Then the ads are produced with the artists serving as spokespeople for the brands. In addition to appearing in the CD packaging,