Subscription services are helping music industry rebounds in countries around the world -- except in Japan. But the market still has good news to share. Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) figures show the country’s CD shipments rose 8% in 2012 . The number of units shipped was up 9%.
This marks the first time since 1998 the value of Japan’s audio shipments rose over the previous year, according to music trade McClureMusic . The gains were attributed to the popularity of local act AKB48 and greatest hits collections by Yumi Matsutoya and Tatsuro Yamashita.
Japan's digital market is in flux and subscription services are practically non-existent. Only Sony Music Unlimited currently operates in the country. Total revenues for the category are scant. According to the RIAJ, Internet subscription revenue from January to September 2012 totaled just $3.6 million. In contrast, track and album downloads over the Internet totaled $130 million over that time.
Mobile downloads, the biggest part of Japan’s digital market, generated $307 million from January to September, but collapsed 39% year over year. The biggest component of mobile downloads, single track downloads, fell 41% year over year.
The Japanese market is about to change, however. Reports indicate Spotify and Rdio will soon launch there. Japan is many years behind early adopters that are seeing subscription-fueled growth. Fueled by Spotify and similar services such as Deezer and WiMP, Sweden posted a 14% gain and Norway posted a 7% gain  in recorded music revenue last year.