CD’s still king in Japan!

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CD’s or digital Downloads?
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85 Percent of Music Sales in Japan are CD’s

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It’s a well known fact that CD sales have been going down, and fast, for some time now. Ever since people got the internet in their homes and learned what it could do, the downfall of the physical disc has been on it’s way, whether it be by piracy or iTunes. However, it appears that in an increasingly digital business, there is one place in the world where the physical still reigns supreme.

Japan, the world’s second largest music market, is completely obsessed with CDs. In fact, of all music sales in the country, 85% are CDs, whereas in other countries, digital is the leader, or in progressive spots where streaming has now taken over, such as Sweden. If that wasn’t enough of a surprise, digital sales in the country have actually been receding for years now, which is the opposite for much of the world (though not for the US, where digital sales dropped for the first time ever this past year). In fact, while online sales reached $1 billion in 2009, just four years later they raked in only $400 million—a massive fall in such a short time frame.

While it’s odd seeing almost anyone buying a compact disc these days, it is particularly strange that Japan would be leading the world in CD sales, as they are typically an early adopter when it comes to new technology. The country is often years ahead of other markets when it comes to new phones, computers, and the like.

The New York Times reports that there are perhaps two main reasons why this phenomenon is happening: a “protectionist business climate” in the music industry and a cultural love of collecting things.

The Japanese public seems to be wary of digital sales when it comes to music, and it’s hard to say completely why. It may stem from a lack of options in the sphere, which are being held back by big businesses. Not only is rights management very confusing in the country, making licensing deals difficult, but companies also aren’t too worried about venturing into the digital space at the moment. Spotify and Rdio, two of the biggest streaming options in the world, don’t have a presence in the country yet.

In countries like the US, the move to selling music digitally happened out of necessity. That’s where people had gone to find their music for free, and it was seen as the only hope for an industry bleeding profits. In Japan however, while CD sales are declining, they aren’t going down anywhere near as fast as they did elsewhere, and they still bring in big bucks.

On top of that, the Japanese have a true love of collecting things, and this can help spur sales. Many stores and artists run promotions that encourage fans to buy more than one copy of an album, such as including tickets or special artwork. Deluxe editions and greatest hits do especially well in Japan, compared to the US where they usually only convince a few die hards to spend the extra money.
Tower Records, one of many mighty CD store chains that disappeared as digital grew, is still alive and well in Japan, with all locations bringing in a combined $500 million in sales a year. In fact, when the brand filed for bankruptcy and went out of business in the US in 2006, there were 89 locations. In Japan, there are still 85 in business, and no end in sight.

CDs may be on their way out, but they aren’t dead yet. The discs still account for 41% of recorded music sales around the world, which total around $15 billion. Like vinyl, there may always be a subset of the market that wants what only CDs can offer: a plastic case, a disc, and a booklet to go with their music.

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GENE SIMMONS: ‘ROCK IS FINALLY DEAD’

Most of us who are song writers and professional musicians know how much the the music industry has changed in the last decade or so. Gene hit’s the nail on the head on several of his points here. It’s a sad state of affairs but for those of us with music running through our veins. We have no choice but to continue on and do what we do best. Keep on Rockin!  

Check out this interview with Simmons.
Wolf’s Den Music.


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GENE SIMMONS: ‘ROCK IS FINALLY DEAD’
The Kiss rocker expands on his thoughts about the past, present, and future of recorded music

By Nick Simmons on September 4, 2014

I spoke with my father about his legacy, the legacy of his contemporaries, and the state of the music industry today. Invariably, it seemed, we began to talk about file-sharing.

But this is not that old story of an out-of-touch one-percenter crying victim. As so many pointed out during the now-infamous Napster public relations war, the rich/famous/established musicians are not the victims of the digital revolution. My father instead laments the loss of opportunity for my generation, those who have begun to sense that it may no longer simply be a matter of dusting our hands, learning a skill, and putting in the time. There is a system that is broken for those of us who love songwriting, instruments, and all the soul of the analog, and it is now working against us — unless we conform. Unless we decide to stick, safely, to pop, and let gray men in a boardroom write our songs for us, dress us, and sell us from somewhere in the shadows.

The death of rock music came, as we all feared, not as a bright, burning explosion, but as a candle that slowly faded away—and in my father’s view, we are all at fault, for slowly leeching its fire without giving back any of our own.

NICK SIMMONS: You once said the music business isn’t dying — it’s dead. What would you say to young musicians and songwriters today trying to navigate this new terrain?

GENE SIMMONS: Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support. There was an entire industry to help the next Beatles, Stones, Prince, Hendrix, to prop them up and support them every step of the way. There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it’s finally dead.

Rock is finally dead.

“ROCK DID NOT DIE OF OLD AGE. IT WAS MURDERED.”
I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did. He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There’s always the changing tide of interests — music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: “What’s next?” But there’s something else. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.

The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.

Here’s a frightening thought: from 1958 to 1983, name 100 musical anythings that are iconic, that seem to last beyond their time.

NS: The Beatles, The Stones…

“FROM ’84 UNTIL TODAY, NAME SOME. JUST GIVE ME A FEW — ARTISTS THAT, EVEN AFTER THEIR PASSING, ARE OR WILL BE INESCAPABLE.”
GS: Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the numerous classic Motown artists, Madonna, U2, Prince, Pink Floyd… The list goes on. Individuals, all unanimously considered classic, timeless, revolutionary. Now from ’84 until today, name some. Just give me a few — artists that, even after their passing, are or will be inescapable. Artists on the same level as the ones I just mentioned. Even if you don’t like them, they will be impossible to avoid, or deny, even after they’ve stopped making music and maybe passed on. In fact, they become bigger when they stop. Name artists that even compare with the ones I just named.

NS: Nirvana?

GS: Nirvana. That’s about it. They are the notable exception. Keep thinking. It’s harder, isn’t it, to name artists with as much confidence? The pickings are so slim, and it’s not an arbitrary difference. There was a 10- to 15-year period in the ’60s and ’70s that gave birth to almost every artist we now call “iconic,” or “classic.” If you know anything about what makes longevity, about what makes something an everlasting icon, it’s hard to find after that. The craft is gone, and that is what technology, in part, has brought us. What is the next Dark Side of the Moon? Now that the record industry barely exists, they wouldn’t have a chance to make something like that. There is a reason that, along with the usual top-40 juggernauts, some of the biggest touring bands are half old people, like me.

NS: What does this bode for the industry of the future?

GS: There is no record industry, unfortunately. Not like there was. There are some terrific bands out there — Tame Impala, which you turned me on to, and so on. And during the ’60s and ’70s they would’ve become big, I’m convinced.

But, strangely, today, everything pales before Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Look up the numbers on that song. He blows everyone else out of the water.

NS: The biggest song of all time is an Internet meme. Sounds almost like popular music is jumping the shark.

GS: Yes. My guess is that despite those numbers, it will still pass from the public eye in a short time. I don’t know what that means, but it’s clear that longevity is practically dead, and new artists that stand the test of time — meaning, artists whose art can survive them, who become icons — are so rare as to almost be nonexistent.

NS: Considering that it doesn’t seem to affect you directly, how did you become so outspoken about this? Along with a few public figures I could name, you’ve been one of the most vocal critics of file-sharing.

GS: My perspective is decidedly different than perhaps the perspective of somebody who was born here. If you’re a native-born American, my contention is that you take a lot of things for granted. All the freedoms and opportunities you have here are expected, and you feel entitled. I think this has taken over the American psyche. I find that many of the more patriotic people are immigrants, and they’re the ones who stand still when the flag goes up, out of gratitude. My sense is that file-sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that’s what they were used to. If you believe in capitalism — and I’m a firm believer in free-market capitalism — then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure. You’ll never understand unless you’re the one that wrote the song, and you were the one that had the band, whose music people took without paying you for. Once you’re the one who’s been robbed, there’s a moment of clarity.

And let’s be clear: I’m not the guy to be pouting and complaining about stuff. I make a decent living. I’m very, very lucky. But that’s because we started before the chaos, in the days when people had to buy records. If you didn’t like a band, you didn’t buy their albums, and the people decided.

NS: They voted with their dollar.

“PATRIOTISM IS CORNY, AND THAT’S A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS.”
GS: That’s right. And going back to that national psyche thing… I firmly believe that there’s something missing in America, and it used to exist, and it’s now corny. Patriotism is corny, and that’s a sad state of affairs. It really is. I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on — I find faults in both, some social and some political issues — but everywhere, people are taking a lot of things for granted. And you would know the majesty that is America if you came from hundreds of other countries I could name. If you come from a place where every day above ground is a life-threatening event, and you had the same ambition and values as the most successful people here, you would never reach the same heights. And of course this applies to Western society at large, but America especially. I think every day, we forget about the — and here’s the corny part — glory of America. And that’s too fucking bad.

NS: Any last thoughts?

GS: Always, but I think I’ve talked enough for a lifetime.

The uphill battle for song writers and artists

This is why we as song writers and artists can’t have nice things.
Groups like Pandora, Spotify and Big Record Labels constantly picking our pockets and leaving us for broke. This just makes me sad.

Original article here:  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/03/pandora-emerges-mostly-unscathed-in-legal-showdown-with-songwriters/

Pandora emerges mostly unscathed in legal showdown with songwriters

Royalties for streaming radio service will stay at 1.85 percent through 2015.

by Joe Silver – Mar 17 2014, 7:05pm EDT

COPYRIGHT LAWSUITS
On Friday, a federal judge ruled that the streaming radio service Pandora will continue paying the same royalty rate it was previously required to pay to songwriters through 2015.

In her opinion, US District Judge Denise Cote wrote that Pandora must continue paying the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) 1.85 percent of its revenue from the years 2011 through 2015 to use ASCAP songs on its streaming music service.

The 1.85 percent figure Pandora will pay is higher than the 1.7 percent rate that Pandora hoped for—1.7 percent is what terrestrial radio stations are required to pay for digital webcasts. Still, Cote’s ruling is much closer to Pandora’s suggestion than ASCAP’s; the songwriters’ group wanted to see a rate that started at 1.85 percent, then rose to 2.5 percent in 2014 and three percent in 2015.

Despite failing to convince the court of their desired rate, ASCAP nevertheless declared victory. “We are pleased the court recognized the need for Pandora to pay a higher rate than traditional radio stations,” said ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento.

Sony/ATV Music CEO Martin Bandier was less eager to declare this outcome as favorable for artists. “This rate is woefully inadequate and further emphasizes the need for reform in the rate court proceedings,” he told Billboard. “Songwriters can’t live in a world where streaming services only pay 1.8 percent of their revenue. This is a loss and not something we can live with.”

This small victory for Pandora won’t fundamentally change its long-term business concerns, which center around copyright payments. Pandora pays out about half of its revenue in copyright license fees, with the great majority of that going to record labels, not ASCAP.