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September 30, 2019 12:57 PM

2018 Japan Musical Instruments Industry Surveys Summary

Japan Musical Instruments Association (JMIA) recently completed the 2018 industry survey in relevant to the production and retail sales of musical instruments in Japan from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

JMIA sent questionnaire to a total of 71 manufacturers and 364 music retailers, and 50 manufacturers and 116 music retailers participated in the survey.

Manufacturers Survey
(Musical instruments production in 2018, 71 manufacturers participated in the survey)

Export of total music products in 2018 decreased 2% in unit over the previous year but increased 4.7% in value to 223.68 billion yen. Also, the domestic sales decreased 4% in unit but increased 8.9% in value to 55.3 billion yen. Increased unit price brought excellent result in value both for export and the domestic sales.

Large keyboard instruments
Looking into product category in detail, the domestic shipment of grand piano went up 3% to 3,375 units, but unit price slightly declined. While, upright piano shipment decreased 3% to 9,344 units though unit price went up marginally. Automatic player pianos performed well, but digital pianos were stagnant with minor decrease in unit. Unit price also went down moderately. The trend has continued since 2017.

Shipment of electronic keyboards with standard-size keys dropped 7% in unit, however, jumped up 40% in value, which suggests grown-up players is expanding in the market. The same goes for electronic keyboards with mini-size keys.

Export of upright and grand pianos, and digital pianos were solid both in unit and value during the year. The manufacturers reported that they had stepped up production in Japan and overseas as well. Export of the electronic keyboards with mini-size keys rose 25% in both unit and value.

Wind and stringed instruments
The woodwind and brass instruments including flutes, piccolos, saxophones, trombones, horns, euphoniums and tubas achieved excellent performance in export both in unit and value. Export of trumpets and cornets decreased in unit but increased in value.

Domestic shipment of flutes, piccolos, clarinets, saxophones, oboes, bassoons and trombones all increased in value. The fact that they failed to meet the 2017 level in unit suggests there were substantial mark up and upgrading to higher models, and growing demands from adult music makers.

Healthy shipment of band instruments is verified by increased import from EU countries. In 2018, Japan imported 14% more band instruments from the area, and their total value increased 12%. One negative trend is that shipment of trumpets and cornets went down 21% in unit, and 15% in value over the previous year. Given that trumpets are one of the most popular brass instruments and known easiness of maintenance when compared with woodwind instruments, good percentage of the instrument may be distributed through mass merchandisers.

Domestic shipment of stringed instruments including violins, celli, violas, double basses and electric violins went down in unit, but went up in value thanks to increased unit price. Other stringed instruments including mandolins, banjos and harps for export advanced more in value than unit. It looks that expensive instruments such as harps contributed to the result.

Percussion instruments
Export of drum kits, single drums, cajons, electronic drum kits and drums gained both in unit and value. Hardware, table-top xylophones, ethnic percussions also showed excellent performance in value.
Domestic shipment of drum kits, hardware, sticks and mallets declined in unit and value. A slight slowdown came in 2018 after having experienced good performance a year before. Domestic shipment of educational percussions including castanets, tambourines, triangles, electronic drum kits and single electronic drums outperformed the results of 2017. In particular, educational percussions increased 25% in unit and 18% in value. It may reflect surging popularity for simple rhythm instruments, which are said to ward off demensia, provide senior citizens with pleasure of music making while contributing to their wellness.

Guitars and related products
Export of acoustic and electric guitars, electric basses, guitar and bass amps as well as effect processors and tuners maintained positive trend last couple of years. According to the export statistics of The Customs Bureau, The Ministry of Finance, export of electric guitars and basses rose 50% in unit in 2018 with good sales in the U.S. market in particular.

Domestic shipment of electric acoustic guitars, electric guitars & basses, guitar & bass amps also increased. Exceptional shipment of electric guitars & basses brought the industry a dramatic 2.3 times increase in value over the previous year. That may explain extraordinary shipment of high-end models to adult experienced guitarists provided by some manufacturers.
Digital musical instruments
Keyboard synthesizers and other digital musical instruments including digital wind instruments showed steady growth in both domestic market and export. Japanese consumer is more inclined to advanced models of keyboard synthesizers. Portable digital recorders also achieved excellent shipment in the domestic market and export.

It’s apparent that Japanese manufacturers of acoustic pianos, digital pianos, synthesizers and guitars are increasingly moving production sites overseas these recent years.

Music Retailers Survey (116 retailers participated)

Pianos (including acoustic pianos, digital pianos, automatic player pianos and used pianos)

There was little change in acoustic piano market, but unit price of new and used grand pianos, used upright pianos slightly went up. On the contrary, unit price of new upright pianos, automatic player pianos and digital pianos has moderately declined. Sales of new upright pianos are continuously affected by broader selections of digital pianos and used models. Advent of new products featuring light weight and compact structure in attractive price forced to reduce average unit price.

In the long run, large keyboard market may become a bright spot as JMIA is now promoting a massive market development campaign, “Music Playing Revitalizes Your Brain and Leads A Happy Life.” From a host of researches by specialists, music performance has proven to ward off dementia and help keeping good physical and mental conditions of senior citizens.

Organs and portable keyboards
Electronic organ is widely recognized as an educational instrument for children. Thus, sales of organ keep falling as number of school-age children declines. Though there were no remarkable new models put into the market during the year, average unit price of organs rose 30,000 yen to 416,000 yen reflecting popularity of the instruments among the players.

Sales of portable keyboards mildly dropped as a whole, but models with standard-size keys significantly increased both in unit and value. Average unit price rose about 20%. While demands of the instrument are in downward trend among young families, senior market is moving upward.

Wind and stringed instruments
The market has traditionally a broad and massive customer group from school-age children to adult band members. Number of school-age children is declining and it adversely affects school market, but it’s expected that the entire market will keep its size as the industry will have new customer groups of middle-aged, and senior ex-wind players who have rich musical experience in coming years.

Total sales of the segment surged slightly in unit but declined 3% in value. Unit price of flutes/piccolos, clarinets, saxophones and trombones rose partly due to mark-up and customer preference for upper grade products.

There is no sign of change for stringed instruments market. Japanese consumer once lost interest in Chinese instruments, but as their quality standard improves, they are increasing their exposure in the Japanese market. Imports from European countries declined only at a moderate level. Demands are stable for fractions, which tell healthy conditions of the market.

Guitars (including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, amps, effect processors and ukuleles)
Total sales of guitars as a group went down about 10% in unit, but increased slightly in value, which indicates rise of unit price.

While sales of new acoustic guitars including electric acoustic guitars slightly declined in unit, they remained unchanged in value. New electric guitars and basses achieved a mild increase with in unit and value. It may suggest in part, growing band activities among teens and young adults in their 20s, and middle-aged and senior.

Used electric guitars and basses sold well, an increase of 4% in unit and 2% in value. The market for used gears looks to be expanding through both existing store distribution network and on the Internet.

Consumer interest continues to shift to more compact and low-priced models for guitar and bass amps. Sales of them leveled off in value, but went down a bit in unit.

Sales of guitar effects processors and tuners declined 4% in unit. Sales of guitar and bass strings deceased 15%, which are largely attributed to bulk purchase on the Internet bypassing brick and mortar retail network.

Backed by continuing interest among music makers, ukulele sales increased 37% in value, and average unit price also went up.

Percussion instruments (including drum kits, marching drums, educational percussions, xylophones, glockenspiels, digital drums, cajons, sticks and hardware)
The segment sales dropped 27% in unit, but rose 2% in value. The drum kits went down about 10% both in unit and value, but snare drums and toms significantly declined by 30% or so in unit and value.

Cymbals, sticks, mallets and digital drums share more than 50% of the segment sales. Sales of digital drum kits which are the largest of the category went up 30% in value, but average unit price slightly diminished. Cymbals rose 10% in value. Sticks and mallets decreased 30% in value.

Though share of the category is relatively small from 3% to 8%, sales of educational percussions, xylophones with legs and glockenspiels with legs showed a significant growth between 200% and 300% in value.

Digital musical instruments (including keyboard synthesizers)
In 2017 sales of keyboard synthesizers were only 3,000 units or so. A year later, they recovered 10,000-plus units again, another record after 2016 both in unit and value. The average unit price of them was yen74,000, but industry experts point that the market is divided into two opposite price points; high-end models and inexpensive entry models.

Other digital musical instruments declined 40% in unit, but kept marginal 10% decline in value. Average unit price went up to yen59,000.

The report doesn’t indicate which kind of digital musical instruments was the market leader, but it’s likely that sound modules for high-end users and integrated sound production systems connected with samplers, sequencers and the like priced between yen50,000 and yen100,000 sold well.

Other small musical instruments (including harmonicas, key harmonicas, accordions, recorders and ocarinas)
Harmonicas, key harmonicas and recorders individually share from 20% to 30% of the total segment sales, 80% in all. They maintained stable business in the year. Because influential number of new retailers participated in this year’s survey, their comments are relatively broadly reflected on this segment.

Sales of recorders were almost flat, but harmonicas increased 37% and key harmonicas, 17%. These instruments much suffer from soft school market as number of school-age children is decreasing year after year. On the other hand, the market is expanding among amateur musicians of young and older generations, who find pleasure in music making again.

Ocarina sales went up 10% both in unit and value as music activities grow in local communities with more adult music makers taking up the instrument.

PA System, recording equipment (including power amps, mixers, speakers, microphones, MTRs, etc.)
Sales of self-contained PA systems, which share 46% of total category doubled over the previous year in value. They achieved excellent sales in unit, and average unit price significantly increased. As retail price of wireless microphones coming down to around yen28,000 level, they are a good substitute to cable microphones these days. It resulted in excellent sales of wireless microphones in unit and value.

Market for portable digital recorders was stagnant except for some high-end models during the year as consumer preference shifted to recording apps of smartphones. Sales of the category went down about 20% over the previous year.

Computer music and DJ Hardware (including music production software, peripherals, DJ mixers & controllers, lighting equipment, etc.)
Industry specialists view entry-level digital musical instruments will be substituted by software applications. The industry survey verifies the prospect, and computer music category has outperformed digital musical instruments since 2017.

Influential You Tubers and V Tubers are contributing to explore net streaming market these years, and the trend boosted the sales of music production software and hardware for private use. Sales of related hardware including audio interface and controller slipped down 21% in unit, but jumped 47% in value. Plug-ins and loops also increased from 30% to 40% in unit and value, while recording & sequence software dropped 40%.

Despite rather humble market size, DJ products are gradually expanding among amateur musicians. The category as a whole failed to achieve better sales than previous year, digital DJ controllers continued to grow with a 16% increase in unit.

Printed music
The downward trend continued from last year in unit, but increased 30% in value. As a result, average unit price rose about 40% to yen2,100. It may be led in some part by expensive songs books of name artists like Queen, and scores of hit movie tunes such as Bohemian Rhapsody. We don’t have any reliable source and information what has contributed to raise average unit price to such a high level.

It’s widely said that sales of printed music has been lost 10% annually at retail store, possibly by sales increase on the Internet. Self-teach piano and guitar books are popular among senior customer.

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