Japan's music market continued to struggle in the first half of 2004, according to production data released by the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan (RIAJ).

Japan's music market continued to struggle in the first half of 2004, according to production data released by the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan (RIAJ).

According to RIAJ, the value of the audio software produced in Japan during the January-June period declined 7% to ¥176.6 billion ($1.6 billion) compared to the same period last year.

Production of pre-recorded audio software by the trade body's 24 member companies in the first six months totalled 150.5 million units, down less than a percentage point from the corresponding period of 2003.

During the first half, production of domestic product fell 1% to 113.8 million units, for a value down 6% to ¥127.4 billion ($1.1 billion). The production of international releases remained relatively stable at 36.7 million units, while dropping 9% in value to ¥49.2 billion ($452.1).

In spite of the current RIAJ figures, Japanese industry executives remain optimistic about the future.

"More Japanese fans are listening to foreign product, and we think those numbers will continue to increase," comments Giles Duke, manager of international affairs at BMG Japan. He points to the continuing strong sales of such non-Japanese artists including t.A.T.u. and Eminem (both on Universal Music K.K.) and Avril Lavigne (BMG Funhouse) as examples.