February 2009 Archives

JMT Retail Market Survey 2008

| No Comments
Of 150, 114 Japanese Retailers Responded to the Questionnaire: 58% Reported "Sales Down," 80% Said "Harder Time Ahead"

The retailers replied,  "Buying intentions are braked," "Consumers go for goods of cheaper unit prices," and "No way to combat the declining tendency." The detailed replies to our questionaire are as follows:

Question 1: How were the sales results of 2008 and the ratios against the previous year?

Of 114 repliers, 18 said "Up" (16% of the total) and 66 answered "Down" (58%). Those who replied "Up" is halved from 35 (30%) of the previous survey, which shows prolonging sales decline. Among those who answered "Down," some recorded more than two-digits of ratio against the previous year, especially among those in local areas. Many of those who answered "Up" or "No Change" are found among the speciality retailers of woodwinds and keyboards. Their results show apparent results of sales promotional and educational activities. 

*Sales data by product category are downloadable: MarketSurvey2008.pdf

Question 2: How were the year-end and New Year sales and their ratios again the same seasons of the previous year?
Of 108 who replied to this question, 63 (55%) said "Down," 16 (15%) "Up," and 27 (25%) "No Change." Those who replied "Up" complained that only those Special Bargain Price goods sold. The newspapers reported that the department stores saw good tracks of customers but the sales of merchandise tagged Special Bargain for the same seasons. 

Question 3: How was the ratio of sales against the previous year by each M.I. category?
Of 24 items, 20 items labeled "Down." The electronic organs, digital device, DJ systems, and computer music-ware are counted among the "Up," however, the number of repliers for these categories were fewer and the results are almost same as the previous year ratio-wise. 

Question 4: What were the instruments which contributed best to the sales of 2008, if you name three?
Most replies left this question unanswered, or "None," or "Can't name particularly." However, category-wise, grand pianos, electronic piano, woodwinds, and brasswinds seemed to have contributed to the sales. Also, those high-ticket custom-made and handcrafted guitars, both electric and acoustic, did considerably well, too. Quite a few makes of electronic drum, handy recorder, and DAW software seemed to have contributed to the 2008 sales, as they show expanding taste for music activities among the consumers. 

Question 5: Which are the instruments expectant for the 2009 sales?
These vary as the formats of the music shops vary. Those nominated as the "Best 10" are: (1 ) grand piano, (2) acoustic pianos (including both grand and upright), (3) wind instruments, (4) electric guitar, (5) violin, (6) electronic organ, (7) electronic piano, (8) acoustic guitar, (9) upright piano, and (10) drums, computer music-ware (in their order). 

Some repliers mentioned, "Promotion of the grand piano will lead to the attention to high-ticket instruments," "Intention to promote the trade-ups of piano," "Those young people who go for the electric guitars will not be wavered by the economic trend," "Many incline to stay home and enjoy playing the electronic drums and other silent instruments," "High yen will continue to help cheaper prices of the imported instruments," "The demands will increase among the older generations," and "The school sales will continue to be solid." Quite a few retailers expect to improved sales in coordination with the teaching studio activities: "We intend to increase students of the adult classes," "We will make more efforts to increase students of our teaching studios," and "We shall put more energy into strengthening the basic children's classes."

Question 6: What were your most effective promotional programs?
15 replied "None especially" to this question, but many retailers seem to value their own promotional programs. Quite a few mentioned good sales at their wind instrument exhibitions during the holiday season of May and other times. Some did by-product exhibitions such as Saxophone Fair, World's Band Instruments Fair, etc. A number of them held exhibit-lesson events for the electronic organs, harmonicas, acoustic guitars with good results. 

Question 7: How do you look for 2009?
"Will be good" -  4%:  with such comments as "As more people seem to enjoy their time home and begin guitar playing as their hobby," and "Our re-located store is getting more track of customers." 
"Will be no change" - 14%:  with the view for "continuing depressive economic tide works against better effects."
"Will be worse" - 80%: with such comments as "Further worsening economic conditions to derogate consumer expenditure,"  "Less interest among all walks of people in music making," "Price bust as a result of the worsen price war," etc. 

Question 8: What do you expect of 2009 Music Fair?
From November 5 through 8 this year, Japan Music Fair will be held. The last question to the retailers was on this Fair. The following are examples of their answers:
"The Fair should be sometime held in the territory other than Yokohama," "The customers are getting ample information through internet these days. There should be more lively information the visitors could 'experience'," "(The Fair) Should feature music performances by more major artists," "The Fair should be for the music traders most of the days. The consumers' day should be only Sunday," "So many dealers and their staff in the far-out areas could not visit the Fair. Why couldn't it be TV-cast by a commercial station?""There should be more exhibits of the analog instruments," etc. 

ROLAND Launches New Compact-Scaled "Planet X" Sales Sites

| No Comments
Roland has developed exclusive sales sites called "Planet" at many co-operative dealer stores all over this country. At this time, the company has opened new, compact version of the "Planet X" at eight music shops in various regional areas.

Roland has opened, through the music dealers' cooperation,  "Planet" for digital gears for music production and band performance at 15 stores since 2004, and the "Foresta" site for home digital pianos at 62 stores all over Japan, with specialist sales staff stationed by Roland at these sites, and the sales have since been showing a steady growth. The new, compact "Planet X" is a half-sized version of the 15-tsubo (approx. 148.5 sq.f.) conventional Planet sales site.

The sales specialists to attend this new sales site are those of the dealers at this time, educated with the sales knowhow of the digital instruments by Roland. Launching the "Planet X" was begun in November 2008 at eight stores of eight dealers at various localities of Japan. Ten of the compact sales site will be set up during the course of 2009, and total 30 by the foreseeable future.

Gibson Japan Opens New Offices at Ginza

| No Comments
Gibson Guitar Corporation Japan (with Yasuhiko Iwanade, president) has relocated its offices at Ginza, Tokyo. The announcement of Gibson's new product "Dark Fire" and the new offices' opening reception were held at the same time at 6 p.m. on December 19 last year at the new office site at 1-chome of the main Ginza Street.

The new offices are housed in Yomiko Building along the Ginza main street where are lined the world's name brand shops. In the basement of Yomiko Building is Gibson's music studio where small live concerts can be held. A section of the first floor is a 
showroom for Gibson products. The business office is located on the 9th floor of the building. The showroom and the studio are to be used exclusively for strengthening the company's relationship with the dealers and the endorsing artists,  and not to be open to the general public.

The newly announced "Dark Fire" (retail price in Japan is ¥475,000, tax included) is Gibson's latest model with adoption of  "Chameleon Tone Technology" which is capable of kaleidoscopic tone variations. Combination of eight preset tones of rock, metal, etc. with the responding pickups will easily realize multi-colored sounds.

Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Company of U.S.A., made a speech at the reception party, stating that he would look for another jump of business for Gibson by opening of these new offices in line with the stores of the world's name brands on the main street of Tokyo's Ginza.

Yamaha Digital Piano

| No Comments

MODUS H11 Digital Piano ¥1,120,000

A new 88-key model joined the stylish MODUS digital piano line. The H11 comes in a contemporary design cabinet that well matches to modern housings as well as such public spaces as hotel and restaurant. As an upgraded model of the H01 in sophisticated cabinet offering advanced key touch and tonal quality, the H11 provides more entertainment features including automatic playing system and extensive BGM data downloaded from internet.


It has natural wood keyboard with White ivory type natural keys, piano voices sampled with concert grand piano, and 480 sound voices for music playback.


Automatic playing function has further advanced incorporating 50 classics and jazz music for appreciation, a USB port to download music data for playback with the H11, and a LAN port connecting directly with internet to enjoy streaming style ModusRadio music cocntents. Three cabinet colors of Amber Glow, Deep Brunet and Velvet Rouge are available.


Yamaha accepts lease and rental orders for the H11.

Further information is available from:


Sakae Snare Drums

| No Comments




Prices from ¥74,000 to ¥81,000

Sakae Rhythm, a percussion instruments expert with more than 80 years of experience has introduced 16 original snare drums of either 13 inches or 14 inches head size, and depths from 5.5 inches to 7 inches using mahogany, zebra/mahogany, bubinga, castor aralia/bubinga, beech and silky oak beech for the shell.

All models employ new designs and makes from shells, parts, lacquering to assembly.  The Union lugs, which are designed round with extra weight on setting surface to produce controlled sound despite their compact structure. Righty or mighty halo is employed for the hoop edges depending on the models.

Further information is available from:http://srmi.jp

Yamaha BF-1

| No Comments

BODiBEAT Interactive Music Player ¥28,380

Yamaha started distribution of the BODiBEAT exclusively designed for jogger/walker on its website. It allows to playback music in tempo matched to jogging and walking speed. As many as 220 titles of MP3 music can be downloaded into a flash memory of the BF-1 through personal computer. It comes complete with a matched arm belt, an earphone with pulse sensor and BODiBEAT Station software.


The BODiBEAT Mixer function is capable of producing music automatically with built-in sound system and sequencer. The BODiBEAT Station analyses music tempo and running speed as well as work data including running distance, time, pace and calorie consumption, and graphically display them on computer.


It also allows athletes to program original training menu matched to individual physical requirements.

Further information is available from:



Ibanez Electric Guitar

| No Comments

JS-BDG/"Black Dog" ¥750,000 w/hard case,

Limited edition with 3 units distributed in the Japanese market.

Hoshino has announced JS-BDG, a special connoisseur model duplicating every possible detail from body shape, neck to finishing paint of Black Dog guitar which Joe Satriani played in recording and on tour from late '80s to early '90s. 


The JS-BDG features basswood body, one-piece maple prestige neck, rosewood fingerboard, Ibanez tremolo bridge and two DiMarzio PAF PRO and FRED humbucking pickups.


The body in clear coat finish is covered with characteristic Black Dog graphic design which is a complete replica of original patterns painted by Satriani himself.

Further information is available from:


Ibanez Electric Guitar

| No Comments

Ibanez JS20TH/"Surfing With The Alien" ¥700,000 w/hard case, Limited edition with 5 units distributed in the Japanese market.

It's an anniversary model to commemorate 20 years of collaboration of Ibanez and Joe Satriani. The basswood body is finished with Surfing With The Alien patterns taken from the Satriani's best hit album jacket.


It features same neck, fingerboard, tremolo bridge, pickups as the JS-BDG.

Further information is available from:


Ibanez Electric Guitar

| No Comments

Ibanez SRX410 ¥63,000

It features flat top 42mm thick basswood body, slim yet highly resilient 3-piece maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, two IBZ PFR-N4 and B4 humbucking pickups with exposed pole pieces which deliver heavy and loud sound, and subdued iron pewter flat finish.

Further information is available from:


Zoom Effect

| No Comments

G2R Richie Kotzen Signature Model ¥14,800

A new Richie Kotzen signature effect joined the Zoom G2R line. Zoom 

has already introduced such signature models as G1k kiko Loureiro, G1J John5 and G2G George Lynch. It provides artist patches crafted by Richie Kotzen himself for instant use of his characteristic guitar sound.


It comes in a special package consisted of an original pick, a poster, a message card and a sticker.

Further information is available from:


C.F. Martin Preamplifier Designed by Roland

| No Comments

Roland supplies C. F. Martin with AP-1 preamplifier for acoustic guitar incorporating 

Roland's exclusive digital audio signal processing technology. The brain of the AP-1 is Roland's COSM sound modeling technology which faithfully reproduces rich body resonance of specific acoustic guitar and deliver full sound in studio-recording level on stage.


Roland developed characteristic modeling sound of individual guitars in 

collaboration with C. F. Martin. In addition the AP-1 offers 7-band equalizer, reverb, anti-feedback and tuning functions. C. F. Martin distributes 00C-16DBGTE cutaway, DC-160GTE Dreadnought cutaway, OMC-160GTE cutaway models mounting the AP-1.     

Further information is available from:


Yamaha SB168-ES Stage Box

| No Comments

To meet the demands for cost-effective networking solution, Yamaha introduced a 3-unit rack size EtherSound stage box offering 16 channels of remote-controlled 

analog mic/line inputs, each with head amp and 8 line outputs at 24bit/48kHz, simply connected with M7CL, LS9 and PM5D digital mixing consoles via CAT5E cable. All data can be transmitted as far as 100 meter distance. 


A total of 64 inputs and 32 outputs are provided when 4 units at maximum of SB168-ES can be used simultaneously depending on connected digital consoles.


It can be used as EtherSound analog input/output box as well. The SB168-ES offers lesser noise interference and high audio quality using shorter mic cables than conventional settings of analog console and analog multi-cables. All these capabilities substantially reduce set up time, labor and cost of sound system.


Yamaha also provides MY16-ES64 EtherSound interface card priced at ¥260,400 and MY16-EX I/O expansion card priced at ¥86,100. 

Further information is available from:



Yamaha IMX644

| No Comments

Digital Installation Mixer

The 2-unit rack size IMX644 offers rich analog monaural, analog stereo and digital inputs and outputs to support broader types of installation sound system. While an exclusive IMX644 Manager pc application software allows user to designate detailed mixer settings, it can be simply operated by controlling input and output levels with knobs and 4 buttons to withdraw programmed memories without advanced audio knowledge. A total of 16 patterns of parameter combination can be saved in the internal memory. Four patterns are available to withdraw from front panel control.


Other features include feedback suppressor for 6 individual analog monaural inputs, link capability with CD, MD and DVD through optical digital output, ducking function to fade out BGM automatically when speech voice is cut in, and digital delay to control delay time of multiple speakers.   

Further information is available from:


Yamaha MY8-SDI-D

| No Comments

HD-SDIDemultiplexer Card ¥330,000

The interface card allows demultiplexing of two 4-channel embedded audio groups selected from 16 channels audio signals to Yamaha digital mixers incorporating Mini-YGDAI slots. It provides each one HD-SDI input and through output groups, synchronizing capability to video or audio signal and an LED status indicator.

Further information is available from:


2008 Japanese Music Products Industry Topics

| No Comments

Successful Industry Events

The industry hosted a series of trade and consumer events during the year amid economic slow down and decreasing consumer demands. All closed with more than expected results making the industry people assured continuing interest in music making and gears for music among consumers.

2008 Musical Instrument Festival in its 6th session took place on October 25 and 26 in Tokyo. Conceived to stimulate music making particularly among junior and senior high school students, it was organized under banner of "Play, Blow and Tap, Experience Music Playing." It drew 23,000 visitors which were 1,500 more than the previous festival. A total of 43 exhibitors took part and 35 live music entertainment programs were provided.

The organizer cleverly approached the target group of young students with advanced campaigns through mobile site and massive volume of printed posters. As a result, the concept of encouraging non music makers to experience any musical instruments at the site was widely acknowledged and penetrated among all age groups from young students, families with children and middle-aged and seniors. Co-staged Premium Guitar Show, Outlet Mall and Benevolent Auction raised a total of 45.44 million yen sales/proceeds. Shopping opportunities obviously magnified the appeal of the event.

The festival has been staged alternately with biennial trade/consumer show, The Musical Instruments Fair Japan. The industry people recognized that the two events have synergy effect to stimulate demands and develop the market.

2008 String Instrument Fair, the trade and user event for string instrument, took place on October 31 through Nov. 2 in Tokyo drawing about 4,000 visitors. Sixty three individual violin, lute, mandolin and bow makers, 29 industry makers and 22 individuals, corporate and association delegates from 7 countries joined the fair. After 50 years of consistent execution, it has established itself as a meeting point for instrument makers, trade and general users.

Yamano Music and Fender Musical Instruments co-staged Tokyo Guitar Show 2008 on June 28 and 29 in Tokyo. Designed for guitar enthusiasts, about 3,500 people, the same level as 2007, visited the 7th session. A total of 43 exhibitors including 17 retailers sold 96 guitars valued 64.3 million yen. A myriad of clinics, live concerts with celebrity appearances and opportunities to experience vintage as well as latest models successfully drew guitar players.

T. Kurosawa & Company organized 1st High End Bass Show on June 14 and 15 in Tokyo. A total of 100 selected bass guitars including Zon, MTD models which Kurosawa distributes as an exclusive agent, and other expensive models handled by 7 affiliated exhibitors. One hundred and sixty visitors showed in the two-day period, and total sales exceeded 10 million yen.

Japan Musical Education and Culture Promotion Society and All Japan Civic-Winds Assn. organized 1st Life-Long Education Wind Music Festival in Hamamatsu 2008/

Japan Civic-Winds Music Festival for 3 days from August 11 in Hamamatsu.

The programs were consisted of free symposiums on the 1st day and concerts on the second day, and the free-style concerts sponsored by Yamaha on the 3rd day. Participated bands were required to pay ¥2,000 for the free-style concerts. The festivals provided amateur school and civic bands with stages to perform. Unlike conventional competitions and concours, they encourage wind instrument players of all age groups simply to enjoy playing music and get involved in various activities in local communities.

New Products Debut in 2008

Following soaring gas and commodity prices, financial turmoil seized in the latter half seriously affected consumer spending in 2008. The overall shaky landscape cast shade over the music products industry. In efforts of fighting against adverse winds on the market, manufacturers introduced a host of new products with originality and additional value at attractive prices.

Digital arena was the most prolific as musicians, whether they are professionals or amateurs, are more and more seeking pc-based music production. To meet their requests increasing number of manufacturers introduced USB-MIDI controllers which provide them with effective control of versatile digital equipment.

Roland unveiled Fantom-G series workstation and Super NATURAL ARX series expansion board. Yamaha put MM8, an 88-key workstation easily controlled even by first time players. Korg expanded its workstation line with attractively priced M50.

2008 saw a host of new brain children in this segment. Yamaha introduced TENORI- ON which suggests a new type of musical entertainment with visual control of light-guided buttons during the Frankfurt Music Fair in March. In collaboration with Toshio Iwai, media artist, it took Yamaha 6 years to materialize the concept. Distinguished demonstration performance on the TENORI-ON became a sensation. It won grand prix award of Entertainment Division of The Ministry of Culture 'Media Culture & Art Festival' late last year.

Korg co-designed Nintendo DS-10 synthesizer with AQ Interactive game manufacturer. Sold exclusively on the internet, it made a mega hit. Korg has also KAOSSILATOR which delivers sound as player's fingers move over the touch pad. These products designed with exceptional concepts have seized interest of consumers who have no musical experience. Massive media coverage contributed to increase Korg brand image.

Roland staged conferences in Japan, U.S. and Europe in an effort of further promoting V-Link, the technology elaborately connecting music and image. Much improved image-related products followed from Roland.

Musical instrument manufacturers have pioneered in development of hand-held digital recorders in the past years. In 2008 the segment has broadened as several manufacturers joined the market. While Roland, one of the original manufacturers of this kind of product, introduced highly integrated R-09HR in March(photo left), Yamaha entered the market with POCKETRAK CX in August(photo right). TEAC unveiled DR-1 in March and GT-R1 for guitar and bass players in September. Recognizing its popularity, mass merchandisers are promoting them in the name of linear PCM recorder, a differentiated product line from conventional IC recorder. Music retailers enjoy favorable businesses with these products providing customers with consultation services for practice and recording applications.

Industry celebrations

Hoshino Gakki hosted a reception party in celebration of its 100th anniversary in May inviting 180 dealers from Japan and world markets as well as 200 family members of employees of 3 Hoshino group companies. Shunji Tanaka, president, said, "Our goal is to deliver reliable musical instruments, not commercial success. We feel our responsibility for another 100 years, and it will be our great pleasure to serve the industry, its future growth."

Sankyo Flute staged a special concert in commemoration of its 40th year along with its long time business partner Prima Gakki in October in Tokyo. From the outset the two companies have worked shoulder to shoulder in pursuit of quality flute with real value. Top level flutists invited from Japan, U.K. and Germany entertained the audience with mellow and brilliant sound of Sankyo known for its superior tonal quality in the world market.

In celebration of 125th anniversary of Gretsch Guitar, Kanda Shokai, exclusive distributor of the legendary guitars hosted reception parties in Tokyo and Osaka in September inviting over 50 dealers. The year coincided 60th anniversary of Kanda Shokai.

Dolce Gakki, distributor of name imported wind instruments including V.Q. Powell flutes, S. W. Lewis French horns, etc., celebrated 20th birthday in Osaka in June. More than 400 guests shared rejoicings of the milestone.