The Japanese music market -- the world's second-biggest -- saw a modest rise in the first half of 2006, according to January -- June production data released by labels body the Recording Industry Assn

The Japanese music market -- the world's second-biggest -- saw a modest rise in the first half of 2006, according to January -- June production data released by labels body the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan.

Production of pre-recorded audio software by the RIAJ's 42 member companies (including associate and "supporting" members) in the first six months of 2006 totaled 142.7 million units, up 3% from the corresponding period of 2005, the RIAJ said. During the period, the market generated a wholesale value of ¥166.9 billion ($1.4 billion), up 2%.

Production of domestic repertoire rose 3% to 103.8 million units, for a value of ¥123.8 billion ($1.1 billion), up 6%. Production of foreign product was up 3% to 38.9 million units, while its wholesale value, however, fell 7% to ¥43.1 billion ($369.5 million) amid intensified price competition.

"It is great that there has been some growth recently, although the market was particularly bad in the previous year, especially February to March," says HMV Asia Pacific president Paul Dezelsky. "So perhaps it is more a sign of the market bottoming out."

Dezelsky says strong-selling releases in the first half included albums by Def Tech (Ill Chill), Remioromen (Victor Entertainment), Utada Hikaru (Toshiba-EMI) and Kumi Koda (Avex), adding that the first half saw a relatively weak international-release schedule.

In addition, production of music-related videos and DVDs in the January-June half rose a healthy 47% to 23.3 million units, for a wholesale value of ¥26.8 billion ($230 million), up 16%.