July 2012 Archives

Masamitsu Yamano Passed Away

| No Comments

Mike-Yamano 2.jpgMasamitsu Yamano, chairman of Yamano Music, one of the largest music retailers in Japan, passed away of heart attack on July 17 at the age of 77.
Born as the third generation of Tokyo-based music chain/distributor which has a flagship store in sophisticated Ginza, he was instrumental in building today's business base of the company. The brand names that Yamano exclusively represents in the Japanese market include Fender, Squier electric guitars and basses, Tacoma, Taylor and Guild acoustic guitars, Faulisi, J.R. Lafin, Fischer, Michael Voigt, Amati, Cherveny and other wind instruments.

While serving such official posts as standing director of Japan Business Federation, vice president of Japan Musical Instruments Association, president of Japan Musical Instruments Retailers'Association, president of Musical Instruments Fair Association Japan, he was enthusiastic in promoting music making and development of music products industry.

The funeral services took place by family members and close relatives, and the company plans a memorial ceremony for the industry members later this year.

Great opportunity for the industry
It's the first time that Japanese music products industry takes part in overseas trade shows with support of Japanese government agencies. JETRO sets up Japan Pavilion for 28 Japanese music products manufacturers at the 2012 Music China providing them with financial and personnel assistance.

Japan Music Trades invited 5 industry exhibitors, to have them talk about business and musicl environment in China. The panelists included Yutaka Kurihara, chairman of Duplex, Nobushige Yanagisawa, president of Yanagisawa Saxophone,Tsutomu Chiba, president of Barock Music, Teruhisa Mano, president of Tombo Musical, and Takaichi Kurihara, president of Duplex.

While China draws attention from the world as it quickly grows to a prominent consumer market, such issues as efficient marketing approach and protection of intelectrual property have become hot topics in the Japanese industry. Here are the comments of the panelists.

Yutaka Kurihara: It's my great pleasure that the small and medium-size companies of the industry make debut in the Japan Pavilion at the coming Music China. We had felt serious challenge as much of production moved to China, and the country is getting older with declining child population. China is a potential market with huge young generations and increasingly rich housholds. We all know a bunch of products are sold in the country under false Japanese brand names. The Japan Pavilion in Music China will provide us with an exceptional opportunity to present the high-quality gears for music made in Japan to the Chinese public. I do hope the exhibitors take full advantage of their exposure in the show.

Teruhisa Mano: We have a long history of business in China as we launched the first factory in Tianjing in 1987. As we were convinced future growth of the Chinese market, we founded a distribution company in 2003. From the very beginning in early 2000s, Tombo harmonicas were regarded expensive and out of reach of general public. One serious problem developing market in China is lack of modern distribution channels. Distributors came to us saying that they could sell our products more than we expected. Actually, They were just big-mouthed. After a couple of disappointing years, we switched to direct marketing to consumers by sales representatives. In due course of time, music stores emerged to serve serious music makers. Those stores have Yanagisawa saxophones and Miyazawa flutes on their shelves. The situation has dramatically changed recent years. The dealers found there was a market for high-quality expensive instruments. We see increasing number of retailers seek genuine instruments. Naturally, those products generate higher profit margins. Our business is steeply growing year after year.

Nobushige Yanagisawa: Loughly speaking, 90% of the Japanese music products manufacturers are small and medium-size enterprises. But they have established brands widely recognized and distributed in the world markets. I say the industry has great assets. I definitely see change in the Chinese market. Ten years ago, they were just export-oriented, but are now searching higher quality imported products to sell. JETRO supports us to exploit Chinese market. We must take this oppotunity as granted, promote our products and achieve successful results. No one denies that China is a prospective market. On the other hand exhibiting products there may involve us into serious design and copyright infringement cases.

Tsutomu Chiba: It's been 20 years since I first involved in Chinese market visiting modest trade show in Beijing every year. Because there was no solid product distribution channelin the country, and distributors and retailers didn't serve their roles, I promoted Barock percussion instruments directly to Chinese Militaly bands and professors at Beijing Music Conservatory. I built business contact with key persons at China Percussion Association and other institutions. A Chinese percussionist who regularly gives concerts in Japan also helped me to explore the Chinese market. His collegues and friends in China now take prominent positions in Chinese music scene. It's a huge market with milions of promising students and amateurs. We always have back orders these days. We launch a distribution company soon in Beijing to promote our products to professionals. From my experience, exhibitors who take part in Music China for the first time can better focus on the market with clear plans.

Takaichi Kurihara: It's really great that JETRO supports us. Having seen national pavilions from Taiwan and major European countries in the past shows, Japan Pavilion has been my dream of years. This will be a significant stage for us.

JETRO plans to offer the exhibitors a series of seminars to back them. The 1st session was staged on June 15 inviting Masaaki Hattori, an expert of intellectual property. He advised the 37 participants from 26 exhibitors, country by country registration of trademarks and designs, and  manufacturing technologies  prior to the show, basic understanding of copyright protection and to build reliable relationship with legitimate business partners, and avoid future legal disputes. 

Masaaki Komaki of Komaki Music Passed Away

| No Comments

Masaaki Komaki, past chairman of Tokyo-based percussion specialist retailer, Komaki Music, and Komaki Tsu-sho, distributor, died of natural causes on June 26. He was 80 years old.

In the middle of 1970s Komaki shifted his business from full-line store to percussion instrument specialist. He retired in 2010 as Komaki Music celebrated 80th year in business. In the interview in the November 2011 issue of Japan Music Trades, Komaki looked back those days and said that the decision came from his prospects to be competitive and differenciated. By the time, music business in Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ochanomizu outgrew that of once hectic Asakusa where Komaki Music is still located. The business expanded as Komaki Tsu-sho undertook import and distribution divisions from Komaki Music in 1989.

Komaki Music exclusively distributes Sonor drums, Vater sticks and mallets, Grover tambourines and triangles, Mike Balter mallets and other broad lines of percussion instruments and accessories in Japan.

Akira Komaki, son and the third generation of the family, is now responsible forall opertions of the two companies. The funeral services took place at Jikoden, Higashi-honganji Temple in Asakusa on 29 and 30.