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. Find out the reasons why after the jump.
Japan has some cool robots, and high tech video games they want to roll out, but the country also panicked when Windows XP was slated for extinction this year as 5.92 million or 7.7 percent of personal computers still ran on an operating system over a decade old. The communication method of choice for any document even remotely official is a fax machine and school districts still use a physical inter-school mailing system over e-mail.
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 percent of all music bought. In fact, online downloads of music are actually decreasing. In 2009, online sales totaled one billion US dollars, compared to only 400 million dollars 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.