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CD sales return to decline in Japan, download figures down in the US

By | Published on Thursday 3 October 2013


After a somewhat perverse uplift in CD sales figures in Japan at the end of 2012, the sale of physical music products there is down again. And according to the Japan Daily Press, the decline in CD sales so far this year has burst the temporary bubble, so that 2013 sales will be lower than 2011 sales. The paper says digital revenues are also down this year. All of which could stop Japan overtaking the US as the world’s biggest music market.

The stats are being cited by those who opposed pretty draconian anti-piracy laws introduced in Japan last year. The Daily Press notes that since those laws came into effect, usage of two of the country’s most popular file-sharing networks – Winny and Share – has slumped by 40%, yet that hasn’t seemingly resulted in an uplift in legit record sales, physical or digital.

The digital market in Japan, of course, is someway behind many other markets, because a number of key download and streaming services have only recently managed to score licenses from the Japanese labels.

Elsewhere in gloomy recorded music sales figures, according to Nielsen SoundScan the download market in the US has peaked. Single track download sales are down 3.4% for the year so far compared to 2012, though the level of decline has increased as the year has progressed, so sales were 1.3% down for the first quarter, and nearly 6% down for the most recent three month period.

And while digital album sales are up 2.6% for the year so far, in the last quarter there was actually a year-on-year decline. Of course comparing one quarter in 2013 to the equivalent quarter in 2012 may skew stats because it doesn’t account for release schedule inconsistencies, ie the wider industry’s major releases may have fallen in different quarters last year to this.

But the emerging trend that download sales are now in decline in the US will be a worry, and makes the success of subscription and ad-funded streaming services all the more important.