April 2013 Archives

JETRO supports Japanese music products industry again organizing Japan Pavilion at musicCHINA to be held from October 10 to 13 in Shanghai.

The show serves the industry great opportunities to increase awareness and presence of the high-quality products made in Japan in the expanding Chinese and growing Asian markets.

This year, the organizers allocate the Japan Pavilion 50% larger space set in better environment than last show. It would allow the Japanese exhibitors 56 9 sq. meter size booths and a mini stage for musical programs provided by the exhibitors.

JETRO offers the exhibitors 50% of total exhibition fee including transportation and customs clearance costs, and one Chinese staff stationed at the individual booth.

Overseas Exhibition Committee of Japan Musical Instruments Manufacturers' Association is responsible for the exhibition. The exhibit will be diversified than last year adding distributors and retailers. It accepts space requests until sell out.

New music-related businesses are being launched outside the music products industry these days. They include management of music teaching studios, and services sending music instructors upon request. The operators equally express hopes for developing music market. What do they see entering music business? Japan Music Trades makes a series of report on new movement now going on in different segments.

Case Study-1: Xing (pronounces eksing) JOYSOUND
Established in 1992, Nagoya-based mobile karaoke service provider, Xing launched JOYSOUND f1, an industry-first karaoke system equipped with input ports for musical instruments last June. It allows the user to connect electric guitar or bass with the karaoke system and enjoy tuning, selecting desired effect modes, and playing along karaoke sound under chord progression guidance shown on the screen, or virtual session with friends on video data.

JOYSOUND Shinagawa Konan Store located near JR Shinagawa Station, Tokyo, opened on March 18 a flag-ship store among 76 JOYSOUNDs stores operated throughout Japan provides JOYSOUND f1 with 73 private karaoke compartments on 6 floors. Outfitted with different settings for parties, concert stages and female users, every musical instrument compartment is furnished with an electronic drum kit readily available for instant jam session with brought-in guitar and bass.

MIDI-based mobile karaoke system has greatly upgraded in the past with advanced capabilities including faster operation, rich song data, much improved sonic quality, high definition video screen, game and performance evaluation programs to meet diversified requirements of demanding user.

Xing started 'Utasuki' karaoke social network service in 2006 with which the user can save favorite song data in pc or mobile phone for instant playback simply by holding mobile phone over karaoke system terminal. In 2008, the company introduced 'Utasuki Movie' that enables the user to shoot singing on karaoke with the camera provided in the karaoke compartments and upload the movie on the Internet for duet with other user sharing one multi-view screen.

Xing explains that 'Utasuki' is widely supported by the user promoting mutual communication among them, and help increase loyal customers. Today, Utasuki has 8 million members, and 300 thousand 'Utasuki Movie' is uploaded monthly.

Naomi Morita, promotion planner of Karaoke Division, (photo right) says, "'Utasuki Movie' is quite popular among our customers as they appreciate social networking function of the system. We thought they would enjoy vocal duet and dance performance when we launched JOYSOUND fl, but soon, more users began bringing guitar, guitar amp, recorder or keyboard harmonica into karaoke compartments. Surprisingly, a user produced one-man music playing guitar, bass and saxophone himself. It was amazing! They really enjoy music making, uploading performance movie on the Internet, and share happy experience with friends."

JOYSOUND f1 features Xing original JOYSOUND Phoenix and Roland SuperNATURAL sound engines for upgraded musical expression, an optional GB-1 Sound Effect Processor which provides 2 inputs for guitar and bass. Like amplifiers, the system delivers sound and can be played along karaoke. Boss guitar effect pedal offers professional class effect modes including hard rock, crunch lead and bass. (photo right: JOYSOUND f1 connected with GB-1)

Xing began providing 'Guitar Navi' function through mobile phone for entry-level guitar players with lyrics, chord progression and guitar tablature. Approximately 13,000 song data of 210,000 titles in total are 'Guitar Navi'-compatible. 'Utasuki Movie' has also upgraded now with a 5-split view capability allowing 5 members to join a session play. (photo below left: Guitar-Navi)

Karaoke opens a gate for new music makers
Morita continues saying, "As word of mouth spreads out on the Internet that one can bring guitar to karaoke bars, we find our customer base expanded to businessmen and girl groups." There are no actual data on music players at karaoke bars, but she assures the market is expanding, and expressed hopes that karaoke explores a hidden market for music playing.

Morita has been promoting JOYSOND f1 to leading music stores since last year asking them to hand out leaflets of the system and guitar picks to the visitors. Largely, they show positive response. When karaoke musicians turn to music making seriously, it's the role of music stores who can help them offering information and advice they need. (photo right: One of the karaoke bar compartments outfitted with a stage and a complete lighting system.)   

2012 Japan's Music Products Sales Slightly Dipped

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Japan Music Trades report annual production, export/import of musical instruments statistics compiled by Japan Musical Instrument Manufacturers Association, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, and Ministry of Finance in April issue. According to the JMIMA data, total sales in 2012 were 98 billion yen, a 6% decline from the previous year. While domestic market maintained the same level of the year before last with 52.5 billion yen total sales, exports significantly dropped by 11.6% to 45.5 billion yen.

Looking the export performance by product category, pianos and wind instruments declined 8% to 12 billion yen and 8.7 billion yen, respectively. String instruments also suffered with a 42% decline, and percussion instruments sales slipped off 29%.

Not every wind, string and percussion instruments was soft. For example, clarinets rose 28%, other percussions increased 11%, tabletop xylophones jumped up 32% and tabletop glockenspiels more than doubled.

In the domestic market, sales of tabletop xylophones and glockenspiels favorably increased by 30% to 120% in units and 10% to 70% in value.

Educational instruments were one of the most vibrant segments last year with both domestic sales and exports advanced than the year before last except exports of accordions. " Export of keyboard harmonicas went up 2.4 times in units and 33% in value.

Piano business is getting back with value increased by 7% for upright pianos, and 9% for grands though they declined in units in the domestic market. Average unit price of pianos is also returning to the same or a little above the level in 2011. During the last decade, domestic piano sales decreased more than 50% in units, however, unit price is gradually rising today.

While competitively-priced upright pianos made in Indonesia increased the share in the domestic market, those value-added models featuring automatic playing function and sound control capability have been well accepted which have contributed 3% increase of average unit price from 428,000 yen in 2003 to 430,000 yen in 2012. Average unit price of grand pianos rose 25% from 958,000 yen in 2003 to 1,198,000 yen in 2012.

Because the JMIMA export figures before 2009 included knockdown production and intermediary trades, it makes comparison with present figures unavailable.

Performance of electric and electronic musical instruments was flat last year with some exceptions as keyboard synthesizers which sold 30% more in the domestic market in units and 17% more in exports. Musical instrument amplifiers also fared well as they increased 23% in units in the domestic market and 73% in exports. Unlike pianos, the unit price has declined from 20% to 30% last year. It suggests more models in attractive price range were put into the market.

2012 Music products imports increased 11% to 45.2 billion yen. Electric and electronic instruments with keyboard increased 19% in value, electric guitars and other wind instruments advanced 11%, respectively, and musical instrument strings rose 7% in value. They shared more than half of the total imports.

Being rather minor segments, import of brass instruments rose 40% in units and 19% in value. Upright pianos moderately increased 2% in units and 7% in value. Though number of units slightly lowered by 4%, grand pianos rose 4% in value. Upright piano imports from China and Indonesia declined, but imports from Germany, EU and Vietnam increased in units. Bowed instruments didn't mark the 2011 level, and they went down 3% in units and 1% in value. Percussion instruments rose 4% in units and 5% in value.             
Electric and electronic instruments with keyboards imported from Indonesia and Vietnam increased 14% and 175% in units, respectively. They are inexpensive models priced between 1,000 yen and 32,000 yen, but these countries are increasing presence as manufacturing bases.


Gibson Takes Over TEAC

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TEAC Corporation announced on March 29 that Gibson Guitar Corp., Gibson Holdings Inc. and TEAC reached an agreement that the three companies would enter new financial and business cooperation as Gibson Holdings Inc. makes a takeover bid acquiring 54.62% of TEAC stocks held by Phoenix Funds 1 and 2. (photo: Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman & CEO, Gibson Guitar Corp. left, and Yuji Hanabusa, president TEAC at the press conference on March 29.)

TEAC stocks are now listed on First Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange, and will be traded as before after the transaction completed. Gibson Group and Phoenix Funds agreed that TEAC stocks would be purchased at 31 yen per stock.

Gibson and TEAC will cooperate in distribution of their products in the world market through enhanced marketing network intensifying sales particularly in the growing Asian markets, promote product development of musical instruments, music production audio equipment, consumer AV equipment and related application software. Business integration of both parties is also expected to increase operational efficiency, corporate value and profits.

Gibson reserves the right to send two executives to TEAC board upon completion of the deal, however, both parties hold decision as they seek maximized benefits of TEAC stock holders and corporate value. 

The business transaction will be completed by April 30.