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The Japanese Mobile Music Difference

It's not just the phones.

Many mobile carriers and music labels are taking a closer look at Japan to find situations in which better marketing is leading to better mobile music outcomes.

In August 2007, the Japanese band GReeeeN became the first music group in the world to sell over 1 million full-track downloads of a song over mobile. Their single "Aiuta" ("Love Song" in Japanese) was released in May 2007 as a full-track download for mobile, eschewing a CD or even online digital first release. Using nontraditional marketing through the Internet, social networks and word-of-mouth, "Aiuta" sold more than 3 million ringtones, ringback tones and ring videos in addition to its platinum-selling full-track release.

GReeeeN is not an anomaly in Japan. In 2007, Utada Hikaru's song "Flavor of Life" sold 7.2 million digital units—mainly master ringtones, ringback tones and full-track downloads—while her CD only sold around 660,000 physical units.

EMI Group initially marketed "Flavor of Life" as a mastertone to tie in with the launch of a TV drama. "Flavor of Life" also hit numerous social media channels through the release of a blog tag, which enabled users to post the video into their personal blog pages. In one 30-day period, the video played over 600,000 times.

Music acts such as GReeeeN and Utada Hikaru have embraced the mobile phone as their leading distribution and monetization channel. According to the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), mobile music accounted for 92% of all digital music sales of ¥75.5 billion ($641 million) in 2007. Particularly noticeable was massive growth in full-track downloads, which accounted for 46% of overall digital music revenues, according to the RIAJ. Within the mobile music category itself, revenues from full-track downloads overtook revenues from ringtones in 2007.

Read more - eMarketer

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