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September 12, 2018 3:36 PM

2017 Japan Musical Instruments Industry Surveys Summary

Japan Musical Instruments Association conducted the first ever industry surveys in 2016, sending a separate questionnaire to manufacturer and retailer members. The reports appeared in July, 2017 and April, 2018 issues of Japan Music Trades, respectively.

The association conducted the 2nd  surveys recently, sending a questionnaire to 73 manufacturers, of which 44 responded, and to 384 music retailers, of which 80 replied. Here is the summary.

2017 Manufacturers Survey Summary

Wind Instruments Production Maintains Good Business
Positive Trend for Guitars and Related Products

Exports increased slightly in unit, but gained 17% in value to 213.54 billion yen in 2017. While domestic production showed a different pattern with a 12% increase in unit and an 8% decrease in value to 50.7 billion yen. That indicates average unit value of not a few items declined.

Production of large keyboard instruments including pianos and electronic organs went down with 8% minus in unit for grand pianos to 3,289 units, and 16% minus in unit for upright pianos to 9,657 units. Average unit value decreased 12% for grand piano and 11% for upright pianos. Digital pianos modestly declined in both unit and value.

Export of pianos jumped up in 2017 with a 67% increase of grand pianos, which were 12,924 units, and 60% increase of upright pianos, which were 142,309 units. Digital pianos also showed a healthy growth of 23% to 113,4092 units. Average unit price of all categories went up accordingly. Electronic organ export jumped by 25% in unit.

Domestic piano market remains challenging affected by strict competition with pre-owned acoustic pianos and digital pianos.

Wind instruments and guitars achieved rather excellent shipment in domestic market in 2017. Other than flutes & piccolos of which sales slightly increased in unit, average unit price of clarinets, saxophones, trumpets & cornets, trombones, other brass and other woodwind instruments went up by 10% (26% increase for other woodwind instruments), though they went down modestly in unit. It reflects growing user preference for more expensive models and demands for trade-ups.

Export of acoustic guitars, electric-acoustic guitars, electric guitars & basses, guitar & bass amps, guitar effects processors, tuners, guitar & bass strings advanced both in unit and value. Domestic sales (shipment) of acoustic guitar increased 5% in unit, and 35% in value. Electric guitars & basses increased 92% in unit, and 58% in value. Though domestic sales (shipment) of guitar & bass amps decreased 11% in unit and 18% in value, guitar effects processors and tuners increased 50% in unit and 31% in value. Guitar & bass strings also advanced 37% in unit and 13% in value.

Ukuleles have been keeping popularity in global markets these years, however, production significantly dropped to 354 units, one twelfth of the previous year. This apparently attributes to wrong reports from manufacturers or misprocessing of the collected data.

Production of percussion instruments was also good with 35% increase in unit for drum sets accompanied by some increase of hardware in both unit and value. Cajons increased 14% in unit though average unit price modestly declined. On the contrary, average unit price of marching drums went down 12%, but production decreased 14%. Production of educational percussion doubled in unit, but decreased 12% in value.

Sales of sticks and mallets indicate activity level of percussion players. Production of these items increased 18% in unit. Average unit price rose 5%. It’s a positive sign for the future business.

Production of digital drum sets decreased both in unit and value. After continuous sales growth, it seems to have come to a temporary stall.

Other musical instruments, which gained substantial production increase include accordions, 30% plus in unit and 39% plus in value and ocarina, a remarkable159% plus in unit and 24% in value.

In Audio products segment, upper models of simple self-contained PA systems increased 7% in value, while they decreased in unit. Demands remained high for hard disk MTRs and portable digital recorders.

(Note: The statistics only refer to production (shipment) level of musical instruments, and doesn’t include inventory in stock.)

2017 Retailers Survey Summary

The sales volume by category; guitars (30%), pianos (26%), wind instruments (16%), printed music (8%), percussion instruments (4%), stringed instruments (3%), miscellaneous (13%)

Pianos (including acoustic pianos, digital pianos, automatic player pianos and pre-owned pianos)
Sales of pianos excluding pre-owned grand pianos increased in unit over the previous year. New digital pianos were only single category with lower sales in value than the previous year. They increased 5% in unit, but decreased 12% in value. Average unit price declined by 30,000yen.
Pre-owned grand pianos restored in good conditions are harder to find these days reflecting growing popularity in overseas markets. The plain 2017 figure may tell poor inventory of qualified instruments in the market.

Sales of new grand pianos increased 15% in unit with a 100,000yen rise of average unit price. Upright pianos recorded 40% more sales in unit, and 44% in value. Average unit price rose 30,000yen. Pre-owned upright pianos also sold well with a 19% increase in unit. Average unit price went up 15,000yen.
Demands were strong for used digital pianos, which increased 75% in unit and 158% in value.
The background of big increase in unit on some items is probably more retailers responded to the survey than previous year. But higher average unit price suggests increasing demands among adult music makers.

Electronic organs and school-use organs, portable keyboards
Sales of portable keyboards increased 3% in unit and 21% in value. Average unit price rose 18% to 20,000yen. Music teaching laboratory for children is the single largest market for electronic organ. While it’s expanding to adult hobby market and attracting old time players, the category declined 15% in unit. Increased average unit price of 40,000yen helped saved the dip in value to minimal 5% level. Sales of school-use organs significantly increased 32% in unit and 42% in value. Average unit price increased 10,000yen.

Wind and stringed instruments
Wind instruments category recorded healthy growth except for clarinets, trumpets and cornets, which declined modestly in both unit and value. Saxophones were exceptionally strong with 14% sales increase in unit and 12% in value. The music retailers reported other brass instruments including horns, tubas and euphoniums were also robust, which resulted in 17% increase in unit and 14% in value. The market is supported by broad customer base of symphonic bands. Also, it’s safe to say that players are opting higher quality instruments.

Stringed instruments including violins are continuously growing backed by surging popularity among amateur orchestras and adult players. Demands are said to be high for fractional violins these days.

Guitars including acoustic and electric guitars, amps and effect processors
Sales of guitars in total dropped 12% both in unit and value. Average unit price of new acoustic guitars rose 24,000yen to 70,000yen. The category increased 20% in unit and remarkable 84% in value. When it comes to used acoustic guitars, average unit price climbed to 173,000yen, an increase of 27,000yen. They increased 31% in unit and 55% in value. Naturally, purchasers of used guitars are higher in age, and they are likely to find value more in used gears than new ones. Growing demands are also evident with electric guitars and basses though they are much inexpensive than acoustic counterparts.
Sales of guitar and bass amps dropped 34% in unit and 38% in value. Reflecting dull band activities, guitar effects processors, tuners and guitar & bass strings have all lowered the sales level of 2016 with 10% decrease in unit. Ukuleles maintained stable growth not much affected by increasing competition in the market with 14% plus sales in unit and 25% plus sales in value. Average unit price rose 10%.

Percussion instruments including drum sets, marching drums, educational percussions, xylophones, glockenspiels, digital drums, cajons, sticks and hardware
Sales of drum sets and unit drums kept the near level of previous year both in unit and value. But average unit price of unit drum rose 14% to 53,000yen. Robust demands for hardware pushed up sales 54% in unit and 63% in value. Based on the sales of small accessories, customer base for percussion instruments look to be the same at best, or a little slimmer than the past years. But percussionists keep passion in buying something to enhance their performance.
Sales of digital drum sets and unit drums declined near 30% in unit, however unit drums rose 122% in value, and average unit price jumped up 183%. It suggests consumer purchased higher-priced value-added products than the year before.

Digital musical instruments including hardware synthesizers
Last year saw sales of more than 10,000 units of hardware synthesizer. They dropped by 70% in unit, but average unit price rose 57% to 85,000yen. It’s said that enquiries for 88-key stage piano are growing, which means the market is driven by high-ticket models verifying the trend of demands divided into inexpensive basic models and expensive upper class models.

Sales of other digital musical instruments dramatically rose 292% in unit and 738% in value. This category is comprised of all digital instruments except for those models with keyboard. Because of the enormous variety, It’s hard to define which products most contributed to the exceptional performance, however, given the 253% average unit price increase to 38,000yen, we estimate that customers purchased many of the products in lower price range between 50,000yen and 100,000yen.

Other musical instruments including harmonicas, key harmonicas, accordions, recorders and ocarinas
Sales of harmonicas declined nearly 20%, while key harmonicas gained 107% in unit and 109% in value. Significant sales increase of accordions is likely attributed to vigorous purchase by individuals, not schools, which is the single largest customer of this category. It also reflects profiles of reported retailers much different from the previous survey.
Ocarinas maintained the sales level of the year before both in unit and value, which means stable demands among adult amateurs.

Sound and recording products including power amps, mixers, speakers, microphones, MTRs
Almost all categories of this segment well advanced in unit. Power amps rose 142%, wireless microphones went up 139%, and portable digital recorders achieved a remarkable growth of 434% though average unit price declined between 10% and 20%.

Computer software & DJ hardware including music production software, computer peripherals, DJ mixers & controllers, lighting equipment
Despite manufacturers and distributors commented flat sales of these products in the year, this segment nearly doubled or tripled both in unit and value. The survey suggests the figures don’t reflect the trend of the market.

Printed music
Sales went down both in unit and value, but average unit price rose 15%.
The retailers reported favorable growth of songbooks and self-taught books for adult players priced between 1,300yen and 1,500yen.

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