SoundScan Japan released figures for the recorded music market in Japan in 2008 and the results showed a market continuing to decline overall, despite rising sales of domestic repertoire. The figures also put Avex in pole position again based on market share.

SoundScan Japan bases its methodology on data retrieved from 3,300 points-of-sale (via barcode scanning at stores), including sales of international and domestic repertoire. However, the figures do not includes sales of digital downloads or imported discs.

The overall sales totaled 325 billion yen ($3.6 billion) and this was a 3.9% decline on the previous year. The peak of the market in 1998 saw sales generate 586 billion yen ($6.5 billion at present exchange rates).

However, when broken down into totals for international and domestic repertoire, the latter showed a slight improvement from 2007 - up 0.4%. But international repertoire slumped by 19.7% compared to last year's figures. This was the third consecutive year of decline for international repertoire.

As for market share by individual labels, Avex Group Holdings Inc., with its big sellers Exile, Namie Amuro and Ayumi Hamasaki, came out at No. 1 with 16.1% of the total market share (up from 15.4% last year).

This is the second year in a row that Avex has topped the chart and displaced traditional powerhouse Sony Music Entertainment Japan, which tied for second place with Universal Music Japan at 13.9%. This represents a small gain for Universal, up from 13.6%, and a more significant loss in market share for Sony, which had 15% last year.

The 2.2% gap between Avex and its next competitors is a significant gain for the company from last year, when Avex was just 0.4% above Sony.