Why aren’t Sony, BMG, Warner, Victor making their artists’ music available on Apple’s iTunes Japan?

“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.

Related articles:
Sony and Warner holding out on Apple iTunes Music Store Australia – September 08, 2005
Sony Connect President in wake of iPod nano: ‘we will accelerate our challenge’ to Apple iPod – September 08, 2005
Apple close to deal with Sony for ‘online music download service for Japanese iPod users’ – September 05, 2005
Bad news for Sony: millions worldwide choosing Apple iPods – August 22, 2005
Musicians stage mutiny against Sony, defiantly offer music via Apple’s iTunes Music Store – August 10, 2005
Apple’s Japan iTunes Music Store debut more bad news for Sony – August 04, 2005
Sony BMG and EMI try to force Apple to ‘open’ iPod with iPod-incompatible CDs – June 20, 2005


  1. iTunes is going to win here, especially is artists are willing to defect.

    I keep thinking back a few years and am amazed at Apple’s newfound strength. Our little Apple has grown up!

  2. Apple turf? Apple has no turf we loaned them the side walk, and we can take it back. We own the music and we own what people listen too. Just cause you bought a book at the book store does not mean WHO wrote the damn book! So what right do you have on saying how much the book should cost? If you like to buy it at our price then just listen to the radio.

    You call me a greedy pig.. and yet you sit there and listen to songs and tunes that my studios cranked out. We search for the best talents and musicians we bring them together because we think it will make the world a little nicer if we can make good music. If that means that we need more money to help us serve you better why is your pants on fire?.. Shouldn’t you be happy that we can use this money to make better songs for you…

    Gosh aren’t you all mac heads brainless… You tell us to stop looking at the now and focus on long term profits.. WE are.. we are trying to make better products for you.. just like how apple charges 300 bucks for a mp3 player that cost almost 100 bucks to make! ARENT you the greedy one apple???????

    have a brain mac guys.. please just cause u lost the OS war does not mean you should still walk around all bitter like wounded animals.


  3. Dear Music Label Exec.
    If you claim to want a piece, just buy Apple stock and you can. It is called diversification of your corporate investment portfolio, and you should be able to find how well your investment income is doing as it is found on your income statement towards the bottom.

    Second, there are many arguements recently about the labels wanting a direct portion of iPod profits. Do you also seek to gain profits from cd player manufacturers? That is where most of your music is played, correct? Your arguement is seriously flawed. I do not buy an iPod to just listen to music. I have it to transfer files, calendar items, phone numbers, etc. I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and music.

    If you really want to ensure the profitability of your business, you need to examine your inventory — and I don’t mean the stacks of cd’s in the warehouse. Your inventory is the artist. Make the process more efficient to maximize the cost/benefit ratio as well as improving the creativity of the artist. You will see greater profit with lower costs.

    Remove layers of unnecessary services and unprofitable business. Large organizations tend to increase bureucratic levels as time goes by, and then they believe that they cannot go without. Increasing communications between artists and executives will also improve the output of the quality of the inventory.

    Improvement is up to you. Just like any business, the only way to do better is to get it done. Don’t blame outside forces because they seem unfair. Modify your mindset and your company in order to succeed. Those who don’t end up exiting, and I suspect that more and more music companies will begin to do this.

  4. Music exec (not!):

    Ha Ha! Are you always this funny when drunk at a karaoke bar?

    Just another jokester who has no command of English spelling and grammar.

    A real music exec would have had his lawyer write such a reply, and the result would have turgin, inpenetrable prose.

    I’m looking forward to seeing you in the museum, in the “20th Century Artifiacts” display.

  5. If you are making more per downloaded track than you do per track on a CD, and yet think that’s a bad deal, then you ARE a Greedy Pig.

    If you think you deserve some sort of royalty from a device that you had no hand in making, have no proprietary technology invested in, and which is in fact spurring the download market (from which you do deserve a cut), then you ARE a Greedy Pig.

    And if you think killing this golden goose, simply because you don’t ‘control’ it, is actually a better corporate strategy then just adapting your business plan to the unalterable realities that the digital world has foisted on all of us, then you are a STUPID Greedy Pig.

    Go sit under a bridge and watch the world go by, you Troll. You don’t need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows … but you do need a brain.
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  6. Actually I do have a say in how much the book costs in the bookstore. If no one buys a book because they think it is overpriced, then the price will go down or else the manufacturing costs will be money down the drain.

  7. I was listening to a strange little tune by Hoagy Carmichael the other day and thinking that in today’s music market, songs like that wouldn’t have a chance of being recorded – not because there isn’t a market for them (I’m sure there are lots of wierdos like me out there), but because these big conglomerates dictate what the market should look like.

    I would, more than anything else, like to see ITMS become a label and let musicians communicate more directly with the listening public. I just don’t think there are that many people who truly like to listen to Jessica Simpson sing…

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