Tower Records, a Japanese retail music franchise and music store, at Shibuya district in Tokyo Photo: REUTERS/Ritsuko Ando

Change of tune: Japanese music fans moving from CDs to streaming services

By Ritsuko Ando

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That is sad!

But I will keep my CD and of course my Record Collection.

I hope Tower Records can survive the Pandemic.

I remember when the Virgin Records store closed here in Japan, it was a sad time.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Fans just want to listen to one song or one music that became popular while CD includes many other music listeners are not interested in.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Friends visit Japan, and they are surprised that we still use FAX machines. That's how we are. CDs will be around for a long time here. I admit I haven't bought a CD in years and that I use streaming now, but the sound quality of a CD on my stereo is much better than the sound from the PC speakers. I'm into classical music so that makes a big difference compared to pop/rock music.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Took a pandemic but a step in the right direction.

The CD sales were a rip-off anyway

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Only very young people can hear the full frequency spectrum and distinguish quality of LP, CD or streamed recordings. So for most people average equipment, players and sound sources are more than sufficient. It’s only show, if you some aged riches present their extraordinary expensive audio treasures in their mini private concert hall like presentation rooms. But it’s nice to look at anyway, that admitted. lol

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

Jeezzzzz it's bout time.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

@Sven Asai - I can assure you that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. I'm close to 50 and can most definitely distinguish the difference between an Ogg Vorbis and a FLAC.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

The days of the CD may be drawing to a close - but the rise of the uncompressed streaming service is slowly on the rise.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese people didn't really do Napster or torrents. They have always been loyal buyers of content on discs. Video game piracy is not very big in Japan either.

I have a Yamaha AV amp that supports Spotify natively. I got myself some enthusiast level speakers earlier this year, but cannot tell the difference between CDs and Spotify Premium. Changing music via an app on my phone is also way easier than handling physical discs, so I end up listening to far more music.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Welcome to 2001 Japan...

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Streaming has some problems. It does not have attractive jackets that have information about the music and the artists. Streaming is not easy to find the music after recording in USB memories.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@kohakuebisu: You are using Spotify Connect, right? (with a Premium account). I love it - really good.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

CDs are things.

You can hold. You can physically take it out of it's case and put it into a player and push a button(s).

You can look at the cover design.

You can take out the cover leaves and read things like production notes, artists notes, lyrics and other info.

It's much like the experience of reading a "real" book with substance and touch.

Digital books and Streamed music exist in the ether.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing at all, just some people like solidity and tactile experiences. Which is one reason there is a mini boom in vinyl.

I buy CDs and I also stream. The CDs are for something that I really want to keep.

My Big Problem with CDs in Japan is the collusive practices of price setting. There are rarely discounted CDs on sale. It's controlled much like the book market is. This will be their downfall unfortunately.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Welcome to 2001 Japan...

You beat me to it haha!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

you guys use CDs? I still listen to music on floppy disks

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Download is very easy but I prefer CDs. Can install music and any to smartphone/pc again from CDs when these devices are broken somehow or smartphone/pc were changed. If you got many music and any from online download directly and yours were broken/lost, you would have to buy them again from online download.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I hope Tower Records can survive the Pandemic.

I hope so too. I grew up on Tower Records in the U.S. and hated seeing them disappear over the years.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I was really surprised to see a Tower Records in Shibuya and wondered how they stayed in business. Tower Records in the US went bankrupt and closed all their stores in the US in 2006.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I still have boxes of CD's back home (couple of thousands), not sure what to do with them anymore. I love each of them (mostly) but the convenience of having my entire library of music in one little box plugged into my audio system switching easily from heavy Metal to Reggae or Techno is awesome. I still enjoy listening to vinyl though for this unique crackling sound but to run or walk with my "shock absorber" discman and my CD selection of the day in my back pack no way!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

CDs? Meh, vinyl all the way, baby.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Finch. I started ripping all my CD's this summer (as FLACs)- i'm 1100 down, out of probably 3500. Even so, am keeping the 'special' ones but have been selling the others , once ripped . Long process, but its been fun and I have rediscovered so much. With a decent server and good software it really is the way forward for me.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


Yes, it's Spotify Connect. has a checkbox that allows you to search for audio gear that supports it. I searched for AV amps, and then bought the oldest one that did second-hand. To find old stuff on Kakaku, click the box that says "include products with no price". Spotify Premium is higher quality than Bluetooth audio, so its better than streaming to your phone and then sending that by BT to your amp/speakers.

They've stopped making them, but I had much more luck streaming to Chromecast Audio than with Airplay and Bluetooth. Both of them would stop or drop out all of the time. Chromecast Audio dongles now sell for a premium over the price when they were being manufactured.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@kohakuebisu: I am using a high end streamer that supports Spotify Connect natively - so, yes it trumps all other ways to play compressed streaming music.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has an incredible amount selection of music on cd’s and vinyl. It is pure pleasure to visit Tower Records in Shibuya and all the other music store. Japan marked has many special editions of albums from artists all over the world, not found in the west. Me and thousands of others love to buy music in Japan, simply one of the best places to travel. Thumbs up and hoping to be back soon in Tokyo music hunting.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese people didn't really do Napster or torrents.

You don't know what you are talking about.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And at the same time, for at least the past 5 or 6 years, you have been able to buy record players at almost any electronics shop. And there are record shops. Young kids originally liked record albums for the cover art, which they pin to the wall. But now they listen to the music too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Which one will disappear first - fax machines or CDs? I would give it 25 years...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I remember the days of Pirate Bay last century...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Cassette tapes have made a semi-ironic comeback in recent years. I wonder if the same could be possible for CDs as well. As mentioned by other posters, it is nice sometimes to have a physical copy with a full jacket and liner notes to enjoy with the music.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


I just bought clutchy hopkins latest album, only available on cassette! Fortunately I have a nice tascam deck coupled to a cambridge audio amp with Definitve technology speakers...sound is perfect!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jeez, people still use CD's? I thought that was already ancient technology.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

miniDisc anybody. How about laserdisc?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

gokai_wo_maneki: "I admit I haven't bought a CD in years and that I use streaming now, but the sound quality of a CD on my stereo is much better than the sound from the PC speakers."

Well, then, it has nothing to do with the CD or digital format, but the speakers. Wouldn't it sound identical if you played a CD through your computer speakers, but much better playing digital files through good speakers with blue tooth capability?

I always crack up when I hear people here saying they are "heading to Tsutaya to rent a couple of CDs... if said CDs are not rented". That one trip to Tsutaya could pay for a month (and more) with an endless library online, unlimited use at the touch of a button, and more. Heck, free for some apps. The funniest part is that it is completely illegal to copy CDs, but the few remaining CD shops sell blank discs next to the cash register for you to copy the rentals.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bluetooth is dreadful. OK for average in ear buds, maybe your car. Source first...always.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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