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December 28, 2021 5:01 PM

2020 JMIA Music Retail Report

Japan Musical Instruments Association (JMIA) recently completed 2020 Japanese Music Products Industry Retail Report which includes retail sales data from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. JMIA sent a questionnaire to a total of 327 music retailers throughout Japan of which 116 (or 33% of the total) took part in the survey. JMIA made an outsourcing agreement with Japan Economic Research Institute for the survey and report.

Total sales of 116 music retailers in 2020: 69,842,350yen. Details of the data appear in the December issue of Japan Music Trades (printed and digital editions)

COVID-19 impacted retail market, but guitars and electronic keyboards sold well
World-wide spread of COVID-19 affected almost all categories of music retail business. While the quarantine changed lifestyle of people and it helped boost sales of some casual type musical instruments playable at home, live music and band activities were hard hit which impacted business of retailers. The pandemic also influenced production of some categories, caused by supply shortage of materials and parts, as well as delayed transportation of goods by global lack of containers.

Pianos (including acoustic and digital pianos, automatic player pianos, and used pianos)
Student recruitment at music teaching studios in town was about to start in spring of 2020 when the declaration of a state of emergency was announced by the government. The music lessons and recruitment campaigns all stopped for 3 months. After self-confinement period was over, new student enrollment and piano sales were getting back, but not to the level before the pandemic. Some students and parents felt uncertain for in person piano lesson. Demands for acoustic piano went down as most competitions and events were cancelled.

Sales of digital pianos increased 14% in unit and 10% in value thanks to increasing demands from staying at home. However, global shortage of chips and even parts of metal and resin restricted production of the manufacturers. Distribution problem by lack of containers lasts to today which causes limited stock of goods at music retailers.

Organs, portable keyboards (including electronic and school-use organs)
Sales of electronic organ significantly declined largely because of the pandemic shut down of music classes in town for 3 months. Sales of electronic organ solely rely on demands at music lessons. In this report sales of electronic organs decreased marginal 10% over the last year, but JMIA Statistics of Manufacturers show 40% decline of shipment both in unit and value.

Portable keyboards are another category which enjoyed significant sales increase backed by surged demands at home during the lockdown. Sales of the compact models with small keys jumped up as some schools switched purchase for music class from recorders to seemingly more virus-resistant instrument. Increasing number of schools purchased from 30 to 40 units of portable keyboard with small keys as .

Wind and stringed instruments (including brass and woodwind instruments, and violin-family instruments)
This segment was hardest hit by the pandemic. Sales of woodwind instruments declined between 21% and 49%, and brass instruments went down between 22% and 40% in unit.

All Japan Band Competition called off in fall along with limited band activities affected sales of new instruments and trade up. Demands to buy own instrument for safety grew for some types of instruments among the students, and maintenance goods, but they didn’t help raise total sales of this segment.

Sales of stringed instrument declined, but with a minor dip of 6% in unit and 17% in value. That is attributed to slow traffic and closure of music lesson studios in town. But amplified demands increased for entry models for the students to self-teach at home after the declaration of state of emergency lifted. It’s encouraging that players of stringed instrument remain strong and business returned in the latter half of 2020.

Guitars (including acoustic and electric guitars, amps, effect devices and ukuleles)
Great number of new and experienced players picked up acoustic guitars and ukuleles during the lockdown. Sales of those instruments priced under 50,000yen significantly increased. Instant surge of demands for guitars and ukuleles along with difficulties developed at manufacturers and distribution network, run out of supply of models at affordable price range arose at retail stores before summer season. The situation reversed after the Japanese government offered flat-rate benefit to all Japanese citizens. Customer choice expanded to over 100,000yen intermediate and high-end models.

The same didn’t go with electric guitars and basses. As explained somewhere in this report, band activities and live performances called off, and senior-high school and college students lost opportunities to perform as band activities at school were banned. At the beginning of 2021, electric guitar sales gradually came back, with excellent sales of high-quality models of name brands.

Percussion instruments (including drumkits, marching drums, educational percussions, xylophones, glockenspiels, digital drums, cajons, sticks and hardware)
Opportunities to perform live at competition and championship were shut down, sales of acoustic drums sharply dropped. Annual budget allowed schools to purchase some instruments, but sales of large percussion instruments including concert drums were impacted. Sales of table-top xylophones significantly increased in unit and value as schools bought around 30 or 40 units of them as school equipment in place of recorders.

Digital drums were another bright spot having taken advantage of demands at home during the lockdown. Music retailers who participated in this survey commented that intermediate and upper-class models at higher unit price were popular among customers.

Japanese traditional instruments (including shamisens, kotos and Japanese drums)
This segment has been in a long downward trend before the pandemic reflecting diminishing customer base, shutdown of manufacturers and distributors as the industry lack successors. The pandemic further damaged the industry. Yet the market is stable for reasonably priced kotos and shamisens. Sales of new instruments and maintenance services are increasing as live concerts came back slowly at the end of September.

Digital instruments (including synthesizers with keyboard)
There were no significant changes in synthesizer market in general but demands for stage pianos dramatically dropped because live concerts almost disappeared. On the contrary, entry model synthesizers with keyboard sold well among new players at home during the lockdown. Repair service requests also increased.

One serious problem for the industry was global chip shortage and container-related distribution problem developed in the latter half of 2020. The market expanded, but music retailers struggled with short supply of digital gears.

Gadget-type digital instruments at 10,000yen price range sold well as they are enjoyable without special knowledge on music.

Musical instruments with reeds and others (including harmonicas, key harmonicas, accordions, recorders and ocarinas)
Sales of key harmonicas and recorders slightly went down despite schools purchased them as usual for equipment use. Some schools still don’t offer children instrumental lesson to prevent virus infection.

The market for harmonicas, accordions, ocarinas and Taishokotos, usually favored by home music makers remained soft. Though consumer picked up those instruments while staying at home, the segment only gained minimal sales increase. More than that, restricted music activities due to limited opportunities to play at recitals and with members of community bands, influenced motivation of the players.

Sheet music
Sales of printed music decreased 12% in volume and 11% in value last year. Some retailers pointed that sheet music for acoustic guitar, ukulele and digital piano for entry level player marked relatively good sales backed by growing popularity for such instruments. It’s likely that experienced players purchased more etudes than before regardless of genre, taking additional time they acquired in the pandemic as an opportunity to improve their skill.

Inspired by the hit movie “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba”, sheet music and score books of its signature tunes significantly sold well.

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