“Some of Japan’s biggest record companies aren’t ready to play ball with iTunes Japan, and that’s got some artists crying foul. Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), BMG Japan, Warner Music Japan and Victor Entertainment have yet to reach deals with Apple to make their repertoire available on iTunes Japan,” Steve McClure writes for The Daily Yomiuri. “Singer-songwriter Motoharu Sano, frustrated by the fact that his back catalog is on Sony and thus not available to iTunes users, is one of several artists who’ve signed direct deals with iTunes Japan to boost their profile on the local version of Apple Computer’s popular music-download service.”
“Why aren’t Sony, BMG, Warner and Victor taking a bite of the apple and making their artists’ music available on iTunes Japan? One key reason may be that Sony doesn’t like the idea of Apple moving onto its home turf. Already stung by the runaway success of Apple’s iPod music players in Japan and other countries, Sony may well view iTunes as a threat to the ‘Mora’ download service, which is backed by several major Japanese labels and which uses the Sony-supported ATRAC file-compression format,” McClure writes. “But Sony and the other three holdout record companies say they are talking to Apple about the possibility of signing up with iTunes.”
McClure writes, “Price is a key issue. By charging an average of 150 yen per song, iTunes Japan undercut download services like Mora, which lowered its prices an average of 15 percent to 200 yen per track after iTunes Japan’s launch. Other Japanese download services also cut their prices to meet the iTunes challenge.”
“Some 1 million titles are available via iTunes Japan, while Mora has about 200,000 titles… Further complicating the situation is that unlike the rest of the world, where Sony Music and BMG have successfully merged into the new Sony BMG Music Entertainment structure, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) and BMG Japan remain separate entities in Japan. It’s possible that SMEJ and BMG will put off joining iTunes Japan until they’ve merged,” McClure writes. “‘As much as industry people tried to convince the press and the public that iTunes would fail in Japan or take years to get anywhere, the reality is that iTunes is doing very well,’ says one industry insider. ‘And artists and their fans want their material available on iTunes.'”
Full article here.
Another issue, of course, would be that an unimpeded iTunes Music Store Japan puts even more of a damper on Sony’s music player sales on Sony’s Apple-dominated home turf. Welcome to the world of Sony. Look up “big, sweaty conglomeration of interest conflicts” in the dictionary and you’ll see Sony’s logo.
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