Napster Japan – The First Six Months
Napster Japan – The First Six Months

Napster Japan – The First Six Months

Napster Japan – The First Six Months

On October 3 of last year, Napster Japan launched the first online music subscription service in Japan with an ‘all-you-can-eat’ model – allowing subscribers to download and play as much music as they like for a flat monthly fee. Accompanied by a massive marketing campaign featuring oversized bar-code poster ads, the Napster Japan launch attracted a great deal of attention and media coverage. When the company announced that over 2 million songs had been ‘shifted’ (downloaded for playing) in the first week after launch, it looked as though Napster might well be on track to replace iTunes as Japan’s most popular online music service. So how have the first six months gone for Japan’s first and (so far) only online subscription music service?

Since the initial first-week announcement, Napster Japan has not released any figures, prompting speculation that subscriber numbers are far short of their targets. While the company has announced several partnerships and puts out regular press releases, you still get the impression that they may be struggling a bit to build a user base. In addition, Napster appears recently to be putting more effort into its mobile download sites than its subscription service. The first site – Napster Mobile – was launched on NTT DoCoMo last November, featuring full-song OTA downloads as well as mastertones. This was no surprise, since NTT DoCoMo owns 42% of Tower Records Japan, which in turn owns 53.5% of Napster Japan. On January 25 of this year, however, Napster Japan launched a second mobile service on KDDI’s au EZWeb portal, and is rumored to be working on a similar service for SoftBank. The mobile sites are not subscription-based, and not much different from the many competing sites on the menu portals. In fact, the recent focus on mobile may be intended to provide short-term revenues while the subscription service is ramping up.

So what is holding the subscription service back in Japan?
Read full article via Music Media Watch >>


KDDI hits one million subscribers for ringbacktone service
In brief: KDDI and Okinawa Cellular announced on March 22 that the number of subscribers for it’s ringbacktone service ‘EZ Machi-uta’ surpassed one million. For 105 yen (US$0.88) per month, you can choose one track that is heard by someone when they call you. Additional tracks cost extra. The service began February 2005, so it’s taken a little over two years to hit the one million mark.

Taito screens out adults with new ringtone service
In brief: Taito has started a new ringtone service where all the tones are around 20kHz. – at the very upper end of the auditory range. As very few adults over the age of 30 are able to hear these frequencies, the site is effectively only usable by young people. The new service is called ‘Kyukyoku EZ Melody Torihodai’ on KDDI and ‘Guru Melo’ on SoftBank.

By Steve Myers, president of Theta Music Technologies