Later today, the IFPI will publish its annual digital music report, outlining sales trends around the world in 2013.
As the second largest music market in the world, Japan’s performance will have a noticeable impact on the IFPI’s figures, but stats released yesterday by local industry body the RIAJ don’t make for easy reading.
Japanese digital music revenues fell 23% year-on-year, from 54bn Yen ($531.3m) in 2012 to 41bn Yen ($403.4m). Digital unit sales fell by 20% in the same period, while physical sales fell from 310.8bn Yen ($3.05bn) in 2012 to 270.4bn Yen ($2.6bn) in 2013.
Billboard adds some perspective, noting that the decline of feature phones is a key factor in the Japanese market’s current transition. “Internet download” sales of singles and albums – a category that includes sales on smartphones – were up 31% and 44% respectively in 2013.
As yet, streaming services aren’t really a factor in Japan, with almost all the major global services yet to launch there, while Sony Music Unlimited is available, but hasn’t announced any usage figures – which suggests they’re not yet high enough to shout about.
Watch closely later today for how the Japanese figures affect the overall IFPI numbers, and how the global body presents them in response. We’re expecting a new round of industry fretting about the possibility of streaming music cannibalising sales, even though Japan is clearly one example of a market where that’s certainly not happening yet.
Canada is another: Billboard has a good piece showing how download sales suddenly plummeted there in September, pinpointing the impact of apps, games and new games consoles as more likely factors than streaming.
Music Ally will have a full report on the IFPI numbers at 1pm GMT today.