Declining internet music downloads in Japan?

Back in December, the Wall Street Journal reported that digital music sales in the U.S. seemed to have stalled — an observation that was further confirmed by a Forrester Research survey suggesting that iTunes sales are (almost) on the way back. For a good write-up, see Nick Carr’s “More evidence that iTunes has peaked” entry.

It is worth pointing out here that a week after being published online, the Forrester analysis was firmly dismissed by Apple, which said the iTMS was doing fine. At this point, it’s unclear which side was correct here, but this Blackfriars’ Marketing blog critique suggests the Forrester survey had it wrong and that iTMS sales are up.

As I was wondering how Japan’s digital music market was doing, I’ve compiled data from a couple of RIAJ press releases (2006-02-24, 2006-8-22 and 2006-11-28) into a CSV file and have posted it to Swivel (source data set).

The image below (numbers on the Y axis are in Million Yen) shows that the incredibly big mobile download market is still growing, while revenues of internet downloads (à la iTMS) are… declining.

Digital music sales in Japan in Yen

I’ve also plotted the “units sold” data on a graph and the results are very similar: an increase in mobile units sold, but the number of internet downloads is lower in 2006 Q3 than in Q2.

All this is rather surprising, and it would be interesting to plot these results against other datasets (e.g. US digital music sales) to see if there are any similarities or correlations. It’s all on Swivel, so mash it up to your heart’s content!

Comments on “Declining internet music downloads in Japan?” (feed)

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  1. Great use of Swivel with interesting data. We made it a featured graph at

    Brian Mulloy
    CEO & Cofounder

    » Brian Mulloy on January 20th, 2007 at 03:24

  2. I’d be careful with these numbers here, as there has been a fair bit of FUD about declining Internet Download numbers lately…

    This article discusses the situation in Canada, but also references the US and Europe. Basically, the CRIA declared a decline in Internet downloads, but there own data shows an upswing. Also of note, is that podcasts aren’t considered in these numbers…

    » Austin on January 22nd, 2007 at 08:45

  3. Austin, thanks for that link.

    The situation seems to be the other way around, though. Afaik, the Japanese record industry isn’t complaining about declining internet downloads. Their sales results however, imply sales are at least flat, maybe even going down.

    However, he most intriguing thing to me are the super-high mobile downloads. I’ve commented on this before, and still can’t believe so many people buy DMRed mobile music.

    » Andreas on January 22nd, 2007 at 18:09

  4. […] I would like to point out that the paragraphs above don’t change my stance towards DRM (I still think it’s a bad idea) — I am only searching for an explanation of the ever rising mobile downloads, and Japanese customers’ apparent indifference towards mobile DRM and its impact on cross-device portability (let alone on fair use, etc). […]

    » chosaq » Is the importance of mobile content portability overrated? on January 24th, 2007 at 20:05