January 2012 Archives

2011 Japanese Music Products Industry Review

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The music products industry has never been intact from the earthquake, tsunami and resulted nuclear power plant meltdown in March. A massive industry-wide rescue and rebuilding plans were immediately offered. Japan Musical Instruments Association and Japan Musical Instruments Retailers Association expended 2 million yen and 1 million yen, respectively, to support North-eastern Japan Branch of the Retailers Association.

The industry stepped up its relief activities teaming with Ryuichi Sakamoto, composer and musician, launching School Music Revival program which supports school music programs in the hard hit area with checkup, repair, maintenance services for damaged musical instruments. With 300 million yen initial fund, the program will be carried for 3 years. As of December 15, the program received 44 million yen donation from all over the country. A host of charity and fund raising concerts have been organized by the industry and artists.

Japan Music Trades played its own role in the national disaster donating through Japan Red Cross 1.84 million yen raised with help of the industry members in the form of special advertisement in the May and June issues.

The industry was relieved with quite positive response from the visitors for the Musical Instruments Fair Japan staged in November. A total of 28,000 general consumers visited, it convinced the industry people the power of music that can support and strengthen relationship in society, and help communities go back to normal life. The 2011 Fair served more than ever as an event to create new and future musicians with a massive experience programs for the visitors. Every event was attended by over capacity children, parents, and young couples.   

Japan String Instrument Makers Association staged its annual String Instruments Fair in November in Tokyo in the belief that continuing the event would help support music makers and enthusiasts. It closed successfully having drawn more than expected 3,500 visitors.

Looking into the world market, NAMM and Frankfurt Music Messe announced that they would team in organizing first NAMM Music Messe Russia in May, 2012. Music China Shanghai celebrated 10th anniversary which continues attracting attention from diversified areas of the world. Japan Musical Instruments Association is now working to organize Japan Pavilion for the 2012 Music China.

Protracted stagnant economy, dwindled consumer demands and the impact of 3.11 natural disaster have all adversely affected the Japanese music products sales. Extremely stronger Japanese Yen also damaged Japan's export business. The manufacturers responded the negative trend with products differentiated by originality, additional value and Japan's established technologies. These new products much focused on individualistic needs of consumers to inspire their desire for music making. Another topic was those software applications and related MIDI interface designed around iPhon and iPad. As they are widely accepted in the market, Shinseido, a leading music retail chain, hosted a consumer contest featuring new software applications.

It's notable that seasoned music retailers launched first and experimental music teaching studios, specialized new shops and expanded music teaching classes. Musicland Key opened a new outlet in Takasaki, Gunma Pref. which is outfitted with music studios for the first time in its history. Tokyo-based Miyachi Gakki started a vintage electric piano store. Yamano Music, one of the largest music retailer chains, has expanded its music studio operation taking advantage of its established brand image.

Thomson Reuters Innovator Award to Yamaha

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Yamaha Corporation received prestigious Thomson Reuters 2011 Top100 Global Innovator Award. It celebrates businesses highly appraised for their innovative achievements based on Thomson Reuters intellectual property data, a world renowned information service company. The award recipients are assessed for their achievement level, how they globally operate, availability and number of registered patents.

Yamaha won high recognition for all of the criteria and met the requirements of evaluation. The company cited Yamaha's highly strategic intellectual property management skills.

Other recipients of the award in the Japanese industry include Toyota Motor, Canon, NEC, Fujitsu, Sony, Panasonic, etc.

Yamaha Consolidates 2 Subsidiaries

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Yamaha announced on December 19 that it would consolidate two wind and stringed instruments manufacturing subsidiaries, Yamaha Music Winds and Yamaha Music Craft on April 1. Yamaha Music Winds will remain in name, but the businesses will be taken over by Yamaha Music Craft.

The consolidation is part of Yamaha's YMP125 mid-term manufacturing plans to improve overall productivity. It will allow the company to share production system, purchasing, procurement and reduction of manufacturing cost in the wind, stringed and percussion divisions.

Atelier Vision Transferred to Roland

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Roland announced on December 9 that all businesses of Atelier Vision would be transferred to the company on January 1. As a member of Roland group, Atelier Vision distributed image and music data library, print music and DVD.

Chushin Filed for Bankruptcy

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Chushin Musical Instruments Mfg. Inc, which manufactured Charvel electric and acoustic guitars and basses, Jackson Stars, Grover Jackson and Cobran electric guitars and basses went out of business and filed for bankruptcy on December 5.

Founded in 1948 in Nagano Pref. as a pioneer in Japanese electric guitar manufacturing, Chushin operated under OEM contract with a name American guitar maker. At its peak time, the company reported more than 9 million yen sales, however, after the 2008 financial crisis, the sales declined nearly half. The recent stronger yen put Chushin into serious sales slump that caused heavy loss.


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Chieko Suzuki, director, and wife of Manji Suzuki, Chairman, Suzuki Musical Instrument Mfg., Co., Ltd., passed away on November 27 at the age of 88.

She had held managerial position helping her husband since launch of the company in 1952.
Suzuki Musical is known as a leading manufacturer of educational musical instruments including keyboard harmonica, harmonica, percussion instruments and school-use electronic organs.

Continuous Support for School Music Revival

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On Dec. 5, LA-based studio musician, Eric Gorfain (right), visited Japan Musical Instruments Association in Tokyo to hand Naoyuki Seo, secretary general (left), US$3,500 proceeds from a concert staged on November 21 at Largo at the Coronet Theater, Hollywood, Los Angeles, in support of School Music Revival program.

Gorfain studied at Sakuyo College of Music in Tsuyama, Okayama Pref. during 1990, and worked as a studio musician and violinist in Tokyo until 1994. Returning home, he is involved in music activities in LA community.

With much love in Japan, Gorfain who speaks, reads and writes Japanese, planned a benefit concert when he knew the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami. He was much impressed by the concept of School Music Revival program, and felt it's the most appropriate recipient of the proceeds.

He was joined by popular musicians for the concert including Sam Phillips, Linda Perry, Wendy & Lisa, Lisa Germano, Grant Lee Phillips, Jenny O, Matt Sharp and Mike Watt.

Later, BBC's The World radio program interviewed him. He said that he would talk about the School Music Revival program to seek expanded support in England and Europe.

Mitaka City Arts Foundation in Tokyo decided to donate ticket sales for 12th Regular Concert given by Mitaka Junior Orchestra on October 23 to School Music Revival program. On December 20, Atsuko Okazaki, managing director of the foundation (right),  visited Naoyuki Seo, secretary general, JMIA (left) to hand him a letter and proceeds.
The foundation also expressed additional support with the ticket sales of New Year Family Concert held on Jan. 15 featuring educators and artists who visit elementary schools in the city, and 13th Junior Orchestra Regular Concert to be staged in March.

Funded by Mitaka City, the foundation organizes a host of educational programs to support schools and music education at elementary and junior high schools in the city.