entertainment

Japan overwhelmingly favors CDs to digital music

87 Comments
By KK Miller

There’s no doubt that many people think Japan is a technologically advanced wonderland that has robots awaiting at every turn. Most people have their images crushed when they step outside any of the main cities and realize just how many rice fields and open spaces there still are. So when it was reported this week that Japan still significantly favors CDs to digital downloads, we weren’t that surprised.

It’s pretty evident that many parts of Japan are incredibly resistant to new technologies, especially if they are digital ones. It seems that a physical copy of something, be it papers or plastic CDs, is incredibly comforting to them.

For Japan, the second biggest music market, CDs still make up 85% of all music bought. In fact, online downloads of music are actually decreasing. In 2009, online sales totaled 100 billion yen, compared to only 40 billion yen in 2013. This seems totally backwards, as digital sales are trending up in every other top market.

What makes Japanese music lovers cling to the humble CD? One theory is that the music industry views the digital landscape with such skepticism and suspicion that prominent players in the music business don’t push digital sales that heavily. Another theory seems to be the way Japan includes bonuses packaged in their CDs, bonuses like a chance to attend a handshake event for their favorite artists.

Japanese netizens were quick to defend their decision to continue to buy CDs over digital versions.

“If you buy it through a download, there’s no jacket insert.”

“I feel that in Japan today, instead of ‘buying music’ we want to ‘buy fan goods’.”

“Buying a download could disappear, so I don’t want it. I want it on a CD.”

It seems that Japanese music lovers just like to collect things, so having a shelf full of CDs satisfies their hoarding needs. One wonders where people have space to store all these items, as Japanese apartments are notoriously small, and Japanese collectors like to collect A LOT of things.

One commenter seemed to complain that the prices were equal for both digital and physical versions of music, so why would they skip out on the real copy? This misconception probably stems from the fact that the music industry in Japan keeps their digital prices quite high. Although a quick search of iTunes versus Amazon and Tower Records reveals that their prices are not equal.

Source: Itai News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- 4 Japanese beauty fads that Westerners just don’t understand -- AKB48 fan shows his love the only way he knows how: By buying $300,000 worth of CDs -- Don’t feel constrained by the passage of time – enjoy it instead with the Awaglass!

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87 Comments
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I have gone pretty much digital only over the past few years out of sheer convenience, although I admit I still like CDs and regret I haven't bought many of them, mainly due to laziness. I have lost countless paid downloads through losing iPods, switching PCs, whatever. So I can understand the Japanese and can't blame them for wanting a physical thing. Also, something to pass onto your kids, unlike your iTunes library, for example. On a side note, with streaming music subscription services and the like, I can't understand for the life of me why places like Tsutaya still flourish... Someone on here will probably enlighten me though.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This sounds as if people are just ignorant to how downloadable music works.

“If you buy it through a download, there’s no jacket insert.”

Because there is no physical media that it needs to come in. That's a good thing. Physical media tends to break scratch, skip, and become unusable over time, unless you baby it to death. If you need a picture or lyrics, then download it!

“I feel that in Japan today, instead of ‘buying music’ we want to ‘buy fan goods’.”

Go and buy the goods then...what has this got to do with CDs vs downloadable music??

“Buying a download could disappear, so I don’t want it. I want it on a CD.”

If it "disappears", then download it again! If you own rights to the music, you can download it again if you need it. Whereas if you scratch CD, you do have to buy it again...bad logic

It seems that Japanese music lovers just like to collect things, so having a shelf full of CDs satisfies their hoarding needs.

Typical Japanese hoarding mentality. Keeping and collecting things like a pack rat, until their apartments/houses as so full with junk, its practically unlivable.

-12 ( +12 / -23 )

This is really interesting and I'll have to look into these studies myself. I wonder if there is much - if any - influence by the outliers who buy hundreds if not thousands of CDs in order to take advantage of the voting and perk systems used by pop groups like AKB48?

Having gone almost 100% digital, I must say I do miss the inserts and artwork of physical CDs. However, digital is by far the most cost-effective approach for myself living in the United States on a budget.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

First for all, digital download dont count into Oricon chart, and fans of certain groups , including K-pop one, are ready to spend lots of money just to see their group as higher posible on that chart , because better position means better status for that group in the eyes of the fans .

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Now, that is backwards. I would not have the players anymore to use a cd at home, apart from an old computer, that is. I do have one in the car but there is no use for it, since I use mp3s and podcasts through Bluetooth. When companies were fighting over Bluerays or the other format I can not even remember, most of my friends were not using any dvds anymore. Trying to hang on to old traditions might be good unless it has something to do with tech, then it is just stupid.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Whatever media music consumers use, at least they are buying music. Lets not knock it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I, for one, prefer to have hard copies of music and movies I really like. IMO, digital downloads are Ok if you only listen on portable devices, but even in my car it's easy to heard the sound quality loss of downloaded versions at or below 320bps. I do not use itoons, either. No, thanks. I do, however have much of my music library on my various devices (phones, tablet, etc.) for on the go listening.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I like CDs because I get music over the internet, if you catch my meaning.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

CDs make up 85% of all music bought - sure. The last AKB48 album sold over a million copies, mostly to due to their packaging of event tickets with the pysical media, a practice that is replicated throught the "idol" industry. One individual bought over 30 million yen worth - more than 30,000 physical copies - of the last release. If you discount idol acts, the percentage of phyisical media purchases drops significantly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Completely wrong, AKE48 vote cards are in the CD's, without this no one would buy anything.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Most of digital music are sold in mp3. Why do you have to pay almost same price for lower-quality mp3 music?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm not sure, but I've heard that the music you buy through itunes isn't really yours...... Besides this, a cd always sounds a lot better than mp3, in this age people spend hundreds of dollars to equip their smartphone with expensive earphones, completely forgetting that even if you dress up a pig, it'll stay a pig.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I admit I buy my music (very recently) through digital download... but to be honest I can shake the feeling that if any thing happens (let say, iTunes disappear tomorrow) I will loose all that digital downloaded context .

I prefer to have a hard copy (CD or even LP) of the music I like... and so every now and then I try to buy music on hard formats.

It is my impression that those people that "defend" the digital download format to be better of superior than the hard copy, are not music lovers nor they hold music as a precious thing.....

But again, that is may be only me....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I think one thing that could change the dominance of Compact Disc sales in Japan almost overnight is the strong possibility Apple may introduce a new, very high quality Apple Lossless digital audio format for music possibly by early in 2015. There has been persistent rumors Apple is working on a much improved Apple Lossless audio compression format that has the sound quality equivalent of 24-bit 96 kHz sampling rate digital audio encoding, the same encoding quality used on Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio tracks on Blu-ray discs.

As a result, you get sound quality potentially superior to Compact Discs, but in a format that can be put into portable music players with solid state memory storage. And that could convince Japanese music fans to finally get away from the Compact Disc format.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There's that mentality of 'collecting' in Japan. Just like collecting mangas, figures, cards, etc.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

funny! and I am still sitting here, still trying to get over my love-loss break-up with vinyl.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If you discount idol acts, the percentage of phyisical media purchases drops significantly.

And why would you do that? They are CDs that are purchase and not digital downloads.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you own the CD you can make copies as and when you like and in whatever format you like. Downloads are poor quality and may have all manner of restrictions as to what you can and cannot do with them. It should be a simple matter to offer lossless downloads but the music companies won't do it. Instead, they prefer to complain about people downloading lossless music for free.

Mind you, a lot of modern pop is awful quality to begin with, so having the CD doesn't necessarily mean the quality is any better.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

For those who want the artwork with their CDs, you have no idea what you're missing by not buying vinyl. Big format art with the ability to see details (Sgt. Pepper comes to mind, Santana's Abraxas). Plus, album covers were perfect surfaces for rolling joints; CD covers, not so much; and downloads? Impossible.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Why would I want to pay for digital music?

Not lossless (and sometimes bad quality -less than 320kbps) No CD case No album art No physical media I actually enjoy going to the store, look for it and then pay for it with real money, the pleasure to feel it in my hands. Once at home I can open the case, insert the disc in the CD/DVD/BD drive and rip it @512kbps MP4, lossless or 320kbps, AND KEEP the CD safe. I can play the CD in an actual CD player.

Is the physical copy a bit more expensive? Well I don't care, I would even pay double for the music that I love.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You can find the CD player next to the fax machine. :-)

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Apple may introduce a new, very high quality Apple Lossless digital audio format for music possibly by early in 2015.

Why would Apple need to do that? Just release everything in FLAC, which has been around for ages and ages and is the current accepted standard for lossless music.

The data on CD sales in Japan is absolutely skewed by people buying many copies of CD singles for idol events, etc. Go look at the sales for non-idol acts - they are way, way down from the late 90s.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan seems to be moving "slow in the fast lane" at times when it comes to technology. I haven't bought a CD in years. Funny thing, I was walking in one of the base exchanges looking for a children's CD, when I realized that they don't have a music CD section anymore. All they have now are movie DVD's and games. I guess people have just shifted to the download age. Can't even really find a decent portable CD player on base, but walk out to any Japanese electronic store, you can still find them

Digital downloads are convienent, and lets you the buyer pick what you want and not have to buy the "whole thing" for just one song. But, I do miss going into the old "record stores" like Moses, Camelot, Tower Records, etc. to just browse the album covers.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

does this author live in japan or FOB? because he or she is true clueless as to why this phenomenon happens. it's not the "handshake" events but the ability to "vote" for your favorite idol that ramps up CD sales. journalism isn't what it used to be...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How quaint. And it doesn't seem that long ago Tsutaya still had VHS tapes. And Tsutaya is still around. If you're nostalgic about the early 90s, Japan is the place to be.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I do purchase digital music but I usually use the downloads as samplers. If I absolutely love the music I usually will end up purchasing the CD. There is a difference in sound.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For my generation (I was at uni in the early-mid nineties) we grew up with records, cassettes and then CDs, and I always dreamed of having a big collection of music, so have amassed a lot of stuff on all three formats.I used to record from the radio onto blank cassettes as well. Now we have audio files, but I still want something I can hold in my hand and spin or play on a music appliance. For stuff I can't get that way e.g. podcasts, file only releases etc. well I have to make do with that, but it doesn't really appeal in the same way. Sure my collection takes up a lot of space, but to be honest I prefer it that way i.e.surrounded by music!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Oops. I meant "digital downloads" and not "digital music".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This isn't surprising at all. You have the oldest population on Earth, the vast majority not having a clue what digital music purchases are who also have all the disposable wealth in the country. On the other end, you'll hardly find any young people who aren't getting all their music digitally and free by torrents.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

probably because most Japanese know how to rip the cd and get the best of both worlds.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

When talk about this kind of topic, many people talk as if digital downloads are advanced, always better than real copies and Japan is so behind. IMO, if you have enough room, why not buy physical copies? You can rip musics from CD with much better quality and use the CD to listen to the music. I cannot understand why some people are crazy about downloading when you can buy physical copies at the similar prices. I think Japan's favors to real copies is not bad at all.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I suspect that the majority of Japanese consumers do not have a preference for CDs per se, but the industry probably limits their options or finds other ways of keeping them CD buyers rather than moving to digital (such as pricing them too high, etc).

The quotes in the article from people saying they want the jacket insert, etc, sound more like hardcore fans rather than your average person who probably doesn`t care much about that.

It is kind of irrational in Japan especially. I still have, in storage back in my home country, a collection of about 300 or so CDs that I put together in the 90s. Living in a typically cramped Japanese apartment I cannot imagine ever bringing those over, love them though I do, simply because I would have nowhere to put them. A CD collection of any note requires a fair bit of shelf space, which almost nobody in Japan has to spare. Why - except for hardcore fans who just must have all this junk - any regular person here would want more useless clutter in their homes escapes me.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

“Buying a download could disappear, so I don’t want it. I want it on a CD.”

This is basically why I prefer CDs as well. I've had no end of computer issues in the past, and on several occasions files have been lost in the process. If I have the CDs though, that doesn't matter. I can just rip the album again and continue listening to my favourite songs. As long as I still have the CDs, I'll never be deprived of my music.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I always still buy the CD. If the CD is 1200 Yen and the dowload is the same price or even marginally cheaper - Why would I choose a compressed download and something I don't REALLY own over the uncompressed physical CD which is mine forever and sounds 20 times (or more) better played through a decent music system. Guess it depends if you a real music fan or not. Useless clutter? KInd of takes away the point of being a fan.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There is something to be said for being able to "feel" the music you have purchased if you know what I mean.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sorry, I am just not sold on all these alleged benefits of CD ownership.

Compare CDs to vinyl, another obsolete technology that nonetheless still has followers. Now vinyl records I can totally see the benefit of physically owning - the physical act of playing them and the sound which they create is distinct and gives one an experience that cannot be replicated by other media. Plus the jackets of record albums are made of cardboard, which has a pleasant tactile feel to it, and large enough to display the cover art in an appealing way.

I totally get that and, if I had a bigger place I would be quite tempted to start a vinyl collection.

With CDs though these benefits either don't exist or at best are extremely watered down. The sound a CD makes is identical to that of a digital download and while playing a CD requires some physical effort, the experience is nowhere near as satisfying as with vinyl - dropping the needle beats snapping the hole in the centre of the CD into place any day. And CD jewel boxes are small and plastic and do not do a very good job of displaying the cover art (better than nothing I will acknowledge, but nowhere near as appealing as with vinyl).

And arguments about wanting to preserve your music don't make any sense either - CDs deteriorate over time, are highly succeptible to damage and have a limited lifespan (another area where they compare poorly with vinyl). If you are worried about preserving your tracks you can simply save massive quantities of them on a very wide range of extremely cheap memory devices that will last a long time and take up almost no space.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

why would i want to buy CDs, my SD card holds over 1000 CD quality songs, over 100 CD. I plug it into my car stereo and im good for a couple months. changing CDs every hr or so is just a pain.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

First, to the article. CDs are digital music. Cassette tapes and records are analog.

Second, the CD allows the option of copying to the computer at whatever quality you like. Downloaded music is compressed at whatever the company wants to compress it to.

I'm not picky about music, and can't really hear the deteoriation in 128kbps, but I fully understand the perceived advantages to a CD.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yes, it's all to do with voting here in Japan. But... that's otaku, what about casual music listeners and in particular, teenagers? Do they use spotify? Pandora? No and No. Do they Download via torrent? Ha! No way! They are not that net savvy. What do they do? They either watch youtube or use an app like "clip box" on their phones to rip it to their phones and listen to it that way.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Always wonder why so many seem to have an attitude that one or the other format is the only way. Isn't there room for both? I enjoy having some music on my iPhone for long train rides on business trips, but I don't drive or have a long regular commute so otherwise it's not essential. My CD collection I would say is just moderate size but about a quarter are rare items not found commercially available in digital form. At one point I spent a fair amount of time and energy ripping CDs and had fun making playlists on the computer. I also had fantasies of gaining space by getting rid of the CDs and player. But I'm glad I didn't because when I bought a new computer my attempts to transfer my music from CDs to the new one ended in failure. Now I can't bothered to do all that work again. On the other hand I enjoy being able to listen to samples and buy individual tracks. Recently I had fun remembering some records my family had back in the 50s and 60s and buying just some of my favorite songs. So for the foreseeable future I'll be using both formats.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Mirai Typical Japanese hoarding mentality. Keeping and collecting things like a pack rat, until their apartments/houses as so full with junk, its practically unlivable.

your comment is too harsh my friend, it's a fact, what sometimes works for you doesnt work for others. I don't see a problem with collecting and storing all the cds of your favorite bands (if you really a music fan) A visitor can come over to your place and they can see and know your personality based on what kind of music do you have on your shelves and it's a good way to start a conversation unlike showing whats in your mp3 player!? plus CDs give credits to the other people who also worked for those albums, that is the problem with normal consumers, they don't know or see how an album is produced, it's not just the band who worked on it, there are also other artists who contributed on making those projects possible. We see our favorite musicians collaborate with other artists like photgraphers, Fashion designers, visual artists etc. It GIVES MORE JOB OPPORTUNITY, With the CD we get to know the artists more unlike downloading, it's like fastfood. I still love to go out and physically buy a CD with my stylish outfit and doc marten's boots and relax in a cafe while reading the Album cover, checking the cool photos/ artworks and reading the lyrics, rather than dowloading mp3s in my pajamas inside my boring room.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

senseiman

The sound a CD makes is identical to that of a digital download

That's just not the case in the vast majority of situations. It's only been recently that there have been lossless digital downloads and these are far from the majority of downloads available.

If I buy a CD I can:

1) Rip it to whatever format I want, whatever quality I want 2) Legally let a friend borrow it 3) Sell it if I don't want it anymore 4) Buy it used and save a ton of cash

Can't do any of those things with digital downloads, and the price difference of digital downloads isn't generally so great to make the loss of those things worthwhile.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

knobby roade

But... that's otaku, what about casual music listeners and in particular, teenagers? Do they use spotify? Pandora? No and No.

What? Pandora is back on????

Dear Pandora Visitor,

We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

dammit.

Should I even bother to check spotify?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Only AKB fans adore CDs because of those tickets for shaking hands with the "idols".

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

There's a whole lot of things that are missing in digital downloads. All the information and extra artwork that comes with a printed CD sleeve or booklet for example. Instead you get a small thumbnail of the front cover. This kind of music distribution is very poorly executed!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

1) Rip it to whatever format I want, whatever quality I want 2) Legally let a friend borrow it 3) Sell it if I don't want it anymore 4) Buy it used and save a ton of cash

Those are all legit points, but I would say they sound more convincing as arguments against downloads rather than in favor of CDs per se. From a technical point of view all of those things (except buying and selling used) could be done with downloads as well, except that the providers price them irrationally high and place (often unfair or arbitrary) restriction on your ability to use them. To me this just suggests they are deliberately trying to make purchasing downloads as unattractive as possible so as to create an artificial market for CDs.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Japan is a bit of a paradox sometimes. They create some of the best and most innovative tech in the world, but don't consume it themselves, for the most part. When I came here there were still not that many people that had their own computers are home, and those that did were using relics with dial-up modem connections. The town I was in did not even have ASDL until years after I moved there, and it is NOT a rural area by any means.

In any case, there are a number of reasons why I think CDs being more appealing is just consumers kidding themselves.

1) You get to hold something in your hand/get a CD jacket. So what? You can hold your cell phone, tablet, or computer ALL with the same cover and info (at very least the album cover, with the other stuff findable), which you can see at literally any time you want to check your phone. Do people carry around all their CDs and CD jackets with them on their person at all times? No.

2) You'll lose your library at some point. In this day and age it's easier to lose a physical piece or library of music than a digital one. Anyone who just picked up an iPhone 6 will be able to tell you they could easily switch music from devices (if they did not get their downloads by legal means there are sometimes hiccup in the sync process), and even have it all on several devices, as well as cloud storage. True, there could be some big electro-magnetic pulse or virus that wipes it all out, but with CDs you could lose them, lend and forget them, scratch or otherwise damage them, etc.

3) The idea that you will always have your library. A funny thing happened the other day when I popped in an old CD into an even older CD player in my apartment. It did not play well and kept skipping. No scratches, and the laser in the player seemed alright. It seems that over time my CD has somehow become corrupt. It worked more smoothly played off my computer, but still not perfectly. Music files will also suffer file corruption, and probably more easily, but you can restore purchases or use other copies if they are not corrupted. No sir, if you want to talk about passing a collection down, retaining sound quality, and none of this corruption stuff, you have to stick to vinyl. Now THERE is a material with true value!

Japan is still quite slow on the idea of 'renting' video or music from home via iTunes or even TV systems that have been around for ages. You pay a certain amount for one movie, for example, and you 'rent' it on your computer, TV, and/or devices for a certain period of time. Instead people here still flock to Tsutaya for the 5 cds or DVDs for 1000 yen rentals, and of course if it's just one night they don't buy, but copy them. This is more appealing than paying for a single rental and then losing it after the period is up.

Anyway, this doesn't account for downloading that is not, shall we say, kosher. You notice the decreasing trend in those buying digital music? That trend comes into play as the government becomes more strict in how you can use purchased music. Ie. the ridiculous law that you cannot upload music purchased on iTunes to your iPhone/Pod/Pad because it infringes on copyright, etc.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

A CD is a physical thing, and you can listen to it time and time again safe in the knowledge that there it is, in the rack waiting for you. MP3s are just floaty files either on your player or smartphone, or floating about in a cloud. Cloud goes pop, bye bye files. MP3 player or smartphone dies... gone. If you really want your music on the go, then you can copy it onto your device... and you still have the original as a physical object with better quality. Yay!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I prefer lossless files like Flac. They take up more storage space than mp3 but these days hard drives are so cheap. I have all my files, not just music, backed up in three places. CD's also have a play life. My mobile devices have mp3.

For movies I try to find copies with 5.1 surround sound because films like The Lord of the Rings are so much better with surround sound.

I don't use CD's anymore. I buy blank DVD's which are better because they hold more. 4GB/8GB compared with what CD 700MD.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not all people are techy and willing to be techy, why not have both available? Both has pros and cons. ? my issue with digital is, internet is always not reliable, anytime just one click your files can be gone and once it's gone there is no way of getting it back… yes for techy people, there's always a solution but not for the majority. And just in case I've done that mistake, I don't want to go and buy all the music again, unlike with CDs once you've bought it, it can stay there for long time, I have CDs here that were bought early 90s and still working very well until today. Plus CDs can assure better payments to artists than digital downloads which is killing the industry now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thunderbird: "A CD is a physical thing, and you can listen to it time and time again safe in the knowledge that there it is, in the rack waiting for you."

So's a vinyl record, and so are VHS and 8-track cassettes. Still have all those MDs lying around? You say, "Cloud goes pop -- bye bye music!" Well, guess what, Cloud goes pop, reinstall from various back-up devices or back from your phone/pod to your cloud or from your computer. House goes 'pop' and it's bye bye to all material possessions in the same way, minus the back up (unless you've illegally copied to your computer/phone/cloud). And guess what... you may not be able to see it, but your CDs are slowly dying and have a play life, as zichi pointed out.

" If you really want your music on the go, then you can copy it onto your device... "

That's illegal, you know.

" and you still have the original as a physical object with better quality. Yay!"

CDs are not 'better quality' than digital. Your speakers and stereo may be, but then the physical CD is moot. And hey, how much space do those things take up? how much time to open, insert, and play compared to on a digital player? Get used to the 'floaty things', they're here to stay. Or if they disappear by some weird disaster where we can no longer use electronics, you won't have anything to play your CDs on anyhow. But why bother telling us on here anyway? This is just a floaty place, not a physical newspaper you can hold in your hands and doodle on. :)

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Some posters have a misunderstanding about cloud storage which does not suddenly go pop and your valuable files no longer exist. I've never heard of that happening because even cloud storage companies have their own backup systems.

The only point about cloud storage is that you have to pay for it but there are many options including making your own cloud which is what I did so I can access all my files from wherever I can access internet. Internet in Japan is reliable.

Much music these days is no longer available on CD's.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Lets kill CDs without CDs no Tsutayas, no Tower Records... Lets cut more jobs! ;-) and do everything in the comforts of our rooms and loose all human interactions and just get married our electronic devices and wonder why humanity is messed up... Wouldn't be a site?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I admire the commenters on here approaching it from a consumer's perspective (physical media vs. simply an mp30 but, if you know Japan well, there's only one reason CDs are more popular here than downloads - money.

The music industry here is so tightly controlled that I feel that they basically decide what foreign acts are allowed to 'enter' the charts. CDs reap the most profit, as it allows the recording companies to charge the absolute maximum per sale. It also ensures that they control the distribution & store relationships. Ever wondered why none of Johnny's catalogue is available online? Fanatical fans will pay anything. I've seen Exile CDs on sale for upwards of 5,000 yen. Double that for live DVDs. Only in Japan could the labels get away with charging these sorts of prices.

This is why services like Spotify & Pandora have yet to enter Japan. They probably never will. It's a closed market to ensure maximum sales of domestic acts at the highest margins possible. This is the Japanese way of doing business and, when it comes to media (don't even get me started on TV), the old guard will do everything in its power to keep it that way.

It's never going to change.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Like so many other things in Japan, the mentalilty of dinosuoars. Japan used to look foward, many times in their history for better or for worse they enbraced change, the future, and the best of what other cultures had to offer. No more than ever they are so desperately trying to hold onto the past. The golden age of the post war Japan. That is long gone and over and this current thinking will and IS leading Japan down and down.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This I think preference for CDs over software downloads relates to many other phenomena where the Japanese show a preference for the viso-corporeal, "res-extensa" over "res-cogitans" 1) Japanese are more likely to prefer cash over soft forms of money such as credit cards 2) Japanese are more likely to hope that "idols" ("Musicians") have good looks then self-written good lyrics 2) Japanese, and Chinese, Koreans and Taiwanese, make things (monozukuri) almost every thing, such as electronic appliances and cars, as opposed to software (where is the Japanese/Chinese windows/Word?), financial products, academic theories at least in the humanities, and other abstracts things such as drugs (which are essentially theoretical) 3) Japanese make goods software only if it is visible (game software) 4) Japanese rate very low on linguistic scales of self-esteem, and rather being arrogant, they can be really humble linguistically, because language is not something that they really identify with) 5) Conversely Japanese tend to be very vain or "haughty" and enhancing of their bodily appearance, clothes and demeanor, auto photography (via poses and eye enlarging photo-me purikara-boothes) because it is with the visual that they identify. 6) This preference for the corporeal over the linguistic (and vice versa) is found in also in the respective religious of the West and Japan which are logocentric and specular respectively. While many may think that the abstract (software) is the future and that the visual corporeal is the past, I think that this is a Western bias. Lets buy a CD!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

One commenter seemed to complain that the prices were equal for both digital and physical versions of music, so why would they skip out on the real copy? This misconception probably stems from the fact that the music industry in Japan keeps their digital prices quite high.

You can easily pay more for the digital download of an album than for a CD of the same album, so no misconception there.

Bob Dylan's first album can be had from Amazon Japan for 1200 yen. It is 1600 yen at the iTunes Store. Bringing It All Back Home, 900 yen from Amazon, 1600 yen from iTunes. John Lee Hooker, House of the Blues is 1030 yen from Amazon, 1600 yen from iTunes store. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue: 1300 yen from Amazon, 1600 yen from iTunes store.

If you want digital downloads of the big boxed sets that have been released as discount packages in recent years, this kind of thing:

http://www.amazon.co.jp/Living-Stereo-60-CD-Collection/dp/B009J3K4MI/ref=pd_cp_m_2

http://www.amazon.co.jp/Centenary-Edition-100-Years-Great-Recordings/dp/B00DYQLEZM/ref=pd_sim_m_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=03D12TA7B09SGAC6GTQA

you won't find them on iTunes at any price.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

About itunes : Previously purchased items might not be available if they're no longer on the iTunes Store. If you changed your Apple ID from one country to another, you can’t download items you purchased in a previous country. "so there are times when u may lose your music" .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Japan overwhelmingly favors CDs to digital music"

I could have sworn CDs ( Compact ( digital ) Disks ) were digital...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's funny to read some people's comments about how they can understand wanting the inserts on CD's as opposed to viewing them online.

When CD's came out, one of the most-often voiced criticisms was that LP jacket art would be missed. Indeed, if you've ever seen a beautiful fold-out LP jacket or perused the inserts say, of a Led Zepplin IV LP, you know how insubstantial the tiny illustrations on a CD jacket seem in comparison.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Music files are more pirate-able...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I prefer cds for two main reasons, the first reason is that I like to listen to my digital music files in loss-less formats. The other reason is because I can usually find an entire albums on CD that are gently used for one dollar, much better deal than just purchasing one single.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"CD" is not a loss less format! 8 tracks were lossless... but bulky.

MP3's are not lossless. Flac files from Pono music service is lossless. PONO records with flac! So... if you rip a flac from an audio CD, then you've already messed things up! PonoPlayer can store up to 500 loss less albums. Again, ripping a CD to flac is not lossless since the CD is already flawed to begin with.

ANyone can still pirate a flac... but they destroy the quality when doing so.

The new method is straight from recording tapes to flac pono format!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I buy CDs - the first thing I do with it is upload to the computer and then onto itunes. The CD itself is largely redundent, but that is no problem. I can sell it. In fact, I have bought quite a lot of CDs on ebay and can sell them back on ebay for what I paid for them - postage the only difference.

I know that if Apple goes bankrupt and a virus hits my computer, I will still have a CD collection to fall back on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Once again, another news source leads the way, and "Japan Today" follows with a parroting write-up portrayed as "news."

Hint: This is old news, already written up by the New York Times more than two weeks ago.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/business/media/cd-loving-japan-resists-move-to-digital-music-.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C{%222%22%3A%22RI%3A16%22}&_r=0

As usual, the cut and paste journalists here arrive late with their "new"s, copying and pasting what other trailblazers have already done for them.

Seriously, this "news source" is getting sad.....

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"CD" is not a loss less format! 8 tracks were lossless... but bulky.

No one said CD were loss-less format, CD's are encoded using a LCPM which is an uncompressed format. I take it you are incorrectly claiming that because CD's uses a 16 bit, not 24 bit, and are sampled at 44khz that it is not "loss-less", correct?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess I can thank the "terrorists" for making me use only digital for my media. Think about it when one flies these days, before you even get to the plan you are basically stripped down and all your possessions inspected. You wear shows and clothing that make it easier to get inspected. You find that you don't pack as much stuff in your carry ons these days since you have to go through all the process of unpacking and packing back for inspections.

For a long flight to the US or other destinations from Japan, if you bring CD's or DVD's to watch that will mean at least 4 or 5 discs, along with a player. Digital media, just use your phone and some ear plugs and you can watch or listen to your hearts content until your batteries die. Digital media is just so easy to use and so portable over physical CD's or DVDs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Zichi

The only point about cloud storage is that you have to pay for it but there are many options including making your own cloud which is what I did so I can access all my files from wherever I can access internet. Internet in Japan is reliable.

I would add a rather critical point that relying on cloud services is relying on someone else to keep your data safe. As many have found in the recent hacking scandals, that's not necessarily a good assumption.

Is it likely that a technical fault would cause a cloud service to fail, all data to be lost? No. Is it possible that a cloud provider goes out of business and all data is lost? More likely. Apple's a huge, successful company but even huge, successful companies sometimes fail. If they fail, your music collection fails, too.

Is that likely? No, but when I own a physical copy of something I can control all of this myself, and back things up any way I want, wherever I want, using whatever service or format I want.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

About the J-music industry:

"5 Reasons Japan’s Music Industry Is Booming… For Now"

http://evolver.fm/2013/07/02/5-reasons-japans-music-industry-is-booming-for-now/

1.) Things are more expensive in Japan

2.) Price fixing on CDs

3.) Obsessive collectors inflate the market

4.) The illegal download revolution never happened here

5.) Physical rules because digital is still in its infancy

But this article brings up some points about that:

"The Great Shift in Japanese Pop Culture"

http://neojaponisme.com/2011/11/28/the-great-shift-in-japanese-pop-culture-part-one/

Part One: Incomes and Consumer Expenditures in Decline

Part Two: The Implosion of Cultural Markets

Part Three: Mainstream Consumers vs. Marginal Subcultures

Part Four: The Rise of Marginal Subcultures

The best explanation is that mainstream consumers stopped buying music, even single song downloads, so the favorite acts of marginal subcultures now appear to be the most popular.

Japan may have become the world’s first consumer market without a mass core.

Part Five: The Difficulty of Exporting Marginal Subcultures

At least from what we have seen from the big subcultural moments in the last decade, the culture of Japan’s marginal pluralities is almost unexportable.

In short, the Japan music industry has declined because mainstream consumers stopped buying CDs. Not only that much less people are buying music, but the J-music industry is propped up by the "marginal" consumers who are fewer in number but buy multiple copies, tens, hundreds, thousands - meaning they're dependent on fewer people but a loss of mere one could mean the loss of hundreds of sales (a.k.a. "house built on stilts"). And unfortunately for them, practically "unexportable," even if they tried.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Most are concentrating on CD vs. digital downloaded music but for me the real problem in Japan is lack of subscription type of music! Spotify and many other services found in most of the rest of the world are missing here!

The other thing is YouTube music - people just don't by music that much anymore. We can listen to whatever we like - even new releases often uploaded by original artsists. Then often people would go and buy the CD if interested.

I have lots of CDs, basically haven't bought almost anything via iTunes or Amazon music. Have NAS with some of my music riped on it but I like a radio type of listening - plenty of on-line radio exists.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Timtak: I don't think it has anything to do with the 'viso-corporal' or else again they'd be using MDs still. It's more just a case of failing to promote the new technologies that they even themselves create (in most cases). Much of the industry here in Japan is like the worst of a bad Ayn Rand novel; you simply can't have something more practical and new replacing the ingrained, old system because, well, that would put a lot of companies out of business -- and we do need those middle-men now. The new technologies only become widely used here once the companies that are always in play have figured out and settled on a way to price-fix everything so they profit equally. You also have the herd mentality. Come February when the new fashion comes into play (pretty much the only field in which new things are welcome quickly), EVERYONE is wearing the same thing. How many Louis Vuitton exact same bags have you seen here, for example.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@John Carl Smith

8 tracks were analogue and therefore lossy.

ALL sound recording is lossy when it is first made.

"lossless' usually refers to loss of precision when making copies. Analogue tapes are very lossy in that respect, but CDs are not lossy if copying to 16-bit 44KHz. Converting a CD to MP3 is lossy, but copying that MP3 file to another machine is not lossy.

So smithinjapan, yes, a CD is of better audio quality than an MP3, with the margin of superiority decreasing with increased MP3 bitrates. See http://www.lincomatic.com/mp3/mp3quality.html

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@smithinjapan You complain and moan like a very poor person, FFS! CD's are better than downloading for me, in fact i don't download. Some classic albums are being reissued in vinyl, love it all. Physiacl items have a resell value in most cases downloaded zero and cannot even be passed on. The Japanese have the right idea, love the place and the mindset.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I love the fact that Japan actually has CD stores. Mp3s are impersonal, so I get why buying CDs is great. The liner notes, credits, etc are part of the experience. You cant get that with most albums in mp3 form on itunes or amazon mp3. Very little have even digital booklets with em. It's one of many reasons of why love Japan. Cant wait to go to Manhattan Records and Bookoff again!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's really no different than surrounding your living room with shelves with books you read.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So do I. You never know when you're digital license provider might go under or loose access to that particular item. A physical disk is forever.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hokkaidoguy wrote in reply to KnobbyRoads:

"What? Pandora is back on????

Dear Pandora Visitor,

We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints... blah, blah, blah, not available in Japan. dammit. Should I even bother to check spottily?"

Hey buddy, what's up with the snarky reply? You're missing the point. Pandora not here in Japan? Doesn't matter. Point is, Japanese don't use a streaming music service. And besides, Netflix is massively popular in Australia even though they don't offer a service there. Ever heard of a VPN? Perhaps you need to get with the times...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has a filthy way to overcharge forthwith CDs and dvds.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

For their*

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Do you see the difference between Japan and foreign countries? The answer is 愛. w Japanese are willing to spend more on what they like despite being able to get it at a cheaper price if they consider the quality is better. In this case, digital to disk. Both have their up-sides and down-sides but personally speaking having the physical thing feels a lot better. Plus the issue with downloads and losing data is a pain. And CDs being susceptible to damage depends on whether you can take care of them properly or not (well, people using susceptible to damage as an excuse clearly can't take care of what they own). Of course they have a limited lifespan, but if one day your hard drive or whatnot breaks down and you didn't back it up, you're screwed aren't you? Same deal, CDs still last longer than a hard drive. Basically the same topic as either an e-reader or the actual book. E-reader is cheaper, if it break, bye-bye data + spend more money to replace said e-reader (I have no idea if you get an acc and can keep any downloads so I won't comment further on losing data) while having actual books feels great, like you're actually supporting the writer (spending more money) and it lasts a hell of a long time. So, both digital and hardcopies have their ups and downs, but digital isn't as reliable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm decidedly old school. Holding it is better than imagining holding it.

I know CDs won't win in the long haul, but that will be another tactile loss for all.

Other day a visitor from Florida remarked on my awesome(his words) wooden slab kitchen counter - 2m X 0.5m - but had to add that granite, glass, marble, stainless are better because....blah, blah. He was serious and not being condescending.

I told him I like wood. I like it's feel. I like it's sensuality and I like the extra work (time & effort) that goes into maintaining it. Honest!

The rush of the digital world is full of digits.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And CDs being susceptible to damage depends on whether you can take care of them properly or not (well, people using susceptible to damage as an excuse clearly can't take care of what they own). Of course they have a limited lifespan, but if one day your hard drive or whatnot breaks down and you didn't back it up, you're screwed aren't you? Same deal, CDs still last longer than a hard drive.

My oldest CDs are coming up to 30 years old, and all of the early ones that I bought play without problems. They haven't been abused, but they've had minimal care. CDs should last that long at least, with an occasional wipedown if the surface isn't clean. Likewise the player will benefit from lens cleaning from time to time, but the laser in a player doesn't last forever. A 20 or 30 year old player is likely to need either some new parts or total replacement. This is hardly a weakness of the CD format, all audio equipment needs maintenance, but if it has been well chosen, it will last much, much longer than any computer or mobile device on the market today.

I don't really have a dislike of digital downloads as such. There are many good things to be said for them. 24/96 and 24/192 downloads are high-quality, and are not part of the Apple/iTunes universe. Even middle-aged audiophiles are moving to PC-based usage - or adding it to the other methods they use - and getting into streaming as well. Digital files can be part of a very high-end audio setup. That said, I don't see a need to sneer at CDs, as some of the kidz here are doing. They're not dead yet, and they still have a place, although after a 30 year run, they may be coming towards the end of their life in the mainstream. That's to be expected for almost any audio format: the history of 78s, 7" singles, LPs, and cassettes shows that new formats - if they ever achieved dominance - lasted about 30 to 40 years, before being abandoned by most users for something else.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For Japan, the second biggest music market, CDs still make up 85% of all music bought.

Not enough numbers provided to be able to tell whether the headline is valid.

The downloads are a lot more efficient to the consumer than buying a CD with a bunch of bad tunes just to get the few good tunes on the disc.

If they're counting by money spent, a CD costs a lot more than a download of one or a few good tunes.

If they're counting by tracks, a CD includes a bunch of bad tunes that the consumer wouldn't normally buy.

The backup aspect is there. I think the music industry probably didn't expect rippers, given that burners were so expensive when CDs first came out, maybe only available in production equipment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No physical presence at all, thus: (1) No easy way to browse for it randomly in physical stores yet (this might change.) (2) No easy and legal way to lend it to a friend.

No booklet, thus: (1) No nice artwork aside from the single image you may not even get in the track metadata. (2) No lyrics info whatsoever. (3) No decent metadata for the tracks (MP3s have the ability but nobody does it right.) (4) Nothing to display on my shelves to show who I like.

No attached physical bonuses. A good number of the CDs I buy come with posters. You could have a digital poster, but what's the point? The note they say about goods is spot on. The CD is just another form of goods.

Soft distribution may just completely replace the media at some point in the future. But the industry can't just sit back and expect that to happen. They have to provide solutions to all the above issues so that people don't look at soft distribution as an inferior method.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They also favor Deep heat to lubricant

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Timtak: I don't think it has anything to do with the 'viso-corporal' or else again they'd be using MDs still. Why? MDs and CDs are pretty similar in their corporeality.

Come February when the new fashion comes into play (pretty much the only field in which new things are welcome quickly), EVERYONE is wearing the same thing. How many Louis Vuitton exact same bags have you seen here, for example. How many American students wear the sweatshirt of their university for example? Ohio state students own on average 5.25 insignia sweatshirts whereas Japanese students have .333 (one in three students have one). https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihonbunka/9180984892 Japanese feel themselves to be unique in their appearance https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihonbunka/10867178794/in/photolist-hyi8DC-eZhWWY-h58nDu-h5A9oP-eXcXpA and many say that they would go home and change if they ended up having a "pair look" with someone else in their class. Donald Ritchie (RIP) wrote a book describing Japan as the "Image Factor (Fads and Fashions in Japan)" and like you says that is the only area in which new things are welcome. But what about cars, motorbikes, cameras, houses, after parts for cars, manga, anime, characters, game software and consoles, and image sensors? Some of the things on that list are probably seen as mere "fad and fashion," by Westerners. Images have been seen as "mere images" at least since Aristotle. Interestingly, the Japanese don't see that Westerns produce anything either. For the most part the Japanese think we produce nothing since to them, words are faddy (c.f. the yearly fad word ranking singo.jiyu.co.jp/ or as criticised by Masao Maruyama - the way in which Japan imports a series of to them faddy theories. Many Japanese hardly notice that Western theories and systems - such as Windows- are at the heart of the "things" that they pride themselves in making. ARM Holdings (a British company!) designs the most smart phone and tablet processors in the world, because it just makes the system design and sells it to Asian chip builders. Most action cameras now have Santa Clara based Ambarella designed image processors, all of which are made in Asia.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here's my thing. I'm a big fan of the 'remastered' cd movement, my favorite records of all time, in digital sound quality. Yes I can clearly notice the difference from mp3s to cd quality, and yes it's comforting to have cd booklets, they hark back to a time when artwork and presentation meant something.. I don't need 5,000 cds, I prefer a small batch of my favorite albums of all time, the 'what would you have on a desert island' best of the best. Like a small reserve of fine wines, I can drink and enjoy it every day 'till I'm dead lol...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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