Interestingly enough, the music labels' strategy of overprized mobile downloads seems to work fine in Japan: KDDI, Japan's nr.2 mobile operator, started with a full song download service in November 2004 and in mid-June, the number of downloads has passed the 10 million mark
. The price per song is between 105 and 420 Yen and, of course, there is DRM all over the place
That's a very cool point. I would consider two things.
First, I'm not sure, that there's an iTunes, or iTunes equivalent in J/K.
Second, i-mode moved way first in this market if I recall correctly, so the institutional relationship between labels and MNOs has been built first (versus labels and Apple, for example).
So I'd be interested to hear what you think.
> First, I'm not sure, that there's an iTunes, or iTunes equivalent in J/K.
There is no iTunes Japan store yet (basically because the Japanese record labels think FairPlay isn't restrictive enough
), but there is a lot of speculation that Apple will announce one on a "special music event"
in Tokyo next week (with an estimated price of 150 Yen / song).
Sony already has its own download store, Mora
, which (if I'm correct) only offers downloads in Sony's own Atrac format - as far as I know, it isn't a big success.
> Second, i-mode moved way first in this market if I recall correctly, so the institutional relationship between labels and MNOs has been built first (versus labels and Apple, for example).
The story is sort of complicated.
In the end of the 1990s, NTT DoCoMo launched i-mode, and competing carriers came up with similar services (KDDI has EZweb, J-Phone/Vodafone has J-Sky/Vodafone Live). Several websites started offering chaku-mero (ringtones), which are basically covers
of popular songs (= rights are cleared by simply paying a fixed fee to JASRAC
) and often come without DRM.
The music labels didn't like this and launched their own chaku-uta (ringtunes) service in cooperation with KDDI (2002). As chaku-uta are 30 second remixes
of songs, also neighboring rights have to be cleared (= the record labels are part of the game). As one could expect, chaku-uta come with very restrictive DRM (making you lose your songs if you buy a new phone). Other operators followed KDDI's move and now all major carriers have support for chaku-uta.
The next big thing then were "chaku-uta full" (again a KDDI move), which are the overpric
ed and DRMed full song downloads I mentioned earlier.
The whole thing comes with another interesting twist: since last year, there is an investigation going on against the labels as it seems they only license their songs to Label Mobile, which is the music industry's own chaku-uta provider. So far, the labels have rejected the JFTC's warnings
. (more info on my blog
NB: Umair, for some reason, I can only see your comment through the Blogger interface. Any idea why?