February 2013 Archives

Jyunichi Miki Heads Roland Japan

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Jyunichi-Miki.jpgRoland Corporation announced management change on Feb. 15.
As of April 1, Jyunichi Miki assumes CEO position.

Born in 1955 and joined Roland in 1977, Miki was named Director in 1994, and now serves as Director, Electronic Organ Development.

Roland spokesman explained that the change is related to the organizational restructuring of the Electronic Music Products Business introduced in November, 2012. Under leadership of new CEO, Roland expects to improve overall business performance and strengthen corporate value in the coming years.

Hidekazu Tanaka, present CEO, Educational Equipment Business, will step down to consultant.      

Flat sales
According to Japan Music Trades annual survey on music products retailing, 2012 music retail market remained almost flat despite favorable growth in grand pianos, brass instruments, ukuleles, accessories and music teaching studio operations.

Slightly over 50% of the respondents reported that business went down during the year. While, the other half replied that it was the same, or increased little. Thirteen retailers reported from 1% to 5% sales increase over the previous year, 6 retailers commented from 6% to 10% increase, and 9 retailers, from 11% to 20% increase. On the other hand 19 retailers replied less than 5% sales decline, and 10 retailers less than 10% sales decline.

As to the year end/new year season, increasing 42 retailers reported the sales went down due to continuing slow demands, increasing discounting on digital and combo products in the last few months largely headed by online distributors which resulted in declined unit price. But the wind instruments retailers comparably did well as good percentage of them reported increased sales.

They much expect of new economic policies announced by Prime Minister Abe (Abenomics) for this year's business as the LDP took office last December. However, not a few expressed concerns about influence by forthcoming consumption tax increase, and consumer's self-restrained buying.

Sales performance by product category
Woodwind and brass instruments sales jumped up in 2011. They continue to show strength, but considerable number of retailers reported sales decline last year.

Ukuleles are increasing popularity over the years for easiness of play, attractive sound and appearance regardless of age and gender. It's favored as a starter instrument along with ocarinas, recorders and harmonicas among adult first-time music makers. Retailers can expect further growth as customers sometimes buy soprano, tenor and other variation models, and trade-ups for more expensive models priced over 100,000 yen or 200,000 yen.

Grand pianos also enjoyed good performance during the year as Yamaha and Kawai refined key lines during the year.

Over 50 retailers reported favorable result of music teaching studio operation for adults until 6 to 7 years ago. But growth rate has moderated these couple of years. Current demographic change suggests that adults market would continue to be essential for the industry. 

On the contrary, sales of electric and acoustic guitars, amps and effect processors all went down, which suggests these products suffered most seriously last year. However, in addition to Fender, Gibson, Paul Reed Smith electric guitars and Yamaha, Morris, and Martin acoustic guitars, demands soared for Yamaha THR guitar amps. First introduced 2 years ago under 'the 3rd amplifier' concept, Yamaha stimulated consumer interest adding 3 new variation models last year.

Digital drums are expanding in favor of their unique features as sound control capability, compactness, and high-quality backing and training functions. There are some retailers distributing only digital drums these days.

Future concerns for business
The retailers are most worried about heavy discounting widely recognized in the industry. Music retailers are providing customers with various services not directly related to sales to help them feel pleasure of making music. That's the difference from retailers of other segments. it is no doubt healthy growth of market and the industry could be built on day-to-day efforts of serious, and hard-working retailers.

Tokyo Sound Closes

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Tokyo-based sound products manufacturer, Tokyo Sound, sent a notice to business partners on February 3 that it had decided to cease operation.

The company attributed more than a decade of stagnant economy, prolonged deflation and rapid sales decline as main courses of this development.

Founded by Mitsuo Matsuki in 1956, Tokyo Sound supplied the market with electric guitars and sound products under Guyatone, Rexer and Sound brands. Mitsuo was known as the first builder of electric guitars in Japan.

Details of liquidation arrangement are not announced at this moment, but the company will notify an outcome all the concerned business partners sometime later. 

Until the last day, Koichi Matsuki, son of Mitsuo, served as president of the company.

Our condolences

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Yoshiharu Abe
Pioneer in Japan's tape-based sound recording passed away on Jan. 2 at the age of 81. He directed design and development of high-quality tape recorders for professionals and amateur music makers as a technical expert and a member of top management at TEAC Corporation.

Abe and Katsuma Tani, late president of TEAC, launched Tokyo Television Sound, former body of TEAC in 1953.

Shunichi Furuyama, professor of Shobi University and sound designer, commented, "Musicians and sound programmers are grateful to Mr. Abe for his contribution in development of multi-track recorder which was then only found at professional recording studios, and later expanded to a diversified product line for general music makers. Advent of multi-track recorders at affordable prices has helped musicians set up private studios at home. Mr. Abe heavily promoted the concept of personal sound recording, which inspired musician's creativity and imagination for more flexible music production. Later, it developed to the computer-based DAW, today's mainstream of music production."