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in my experience it's to incentive Japanese fans to buy the domestic release as opposed to an imported NA/UK/EU/whatever version that's often.
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I always assumed it had something to do with Japan's consumer culture - they will pay the extra money to get the 'best' possible version of the CD. It may not be twice the price given shipping and import costs, bringing the price to within a couple bucks might be enough. GeekAnimator - for a really thorough explanation, see here warning, Geocities. I was gonna answer this, but instead I'll just say that Gortuk above is pretty much on the money.
CDs in Japan are so damn expensive because the government says they have to be. A third confirmation of Gortuk's reasoning. The bonus tracks are to encourage Japanese to buy the Japanese edition. So how about CDs released in Japan of Japanese artists? Are they also as expensive as the CDs released in Japan of foreign artists? Do they have "extra" tracks too? They don't have extra tracks--although sometimes the production values are a bit nicer than those of American CDs; you get a very nice lyric book, or your CD in a nice box. CDs by Japanese artists don't have an "import" version to compete in the marketplace, so they don't need to have the extra incentive to induce people to buy the Japanese version.
Also - Japanese music industry is more singles driven than in the us. J-pop artists can release several singles before the album is out, and often the album is just the collection of singles. As far as I'm aware the laws only apply for physical medium, and hasn't "caught up" to digital sales yet.
However because the culture of price fixing is already there, their digital sales are costly as well. The average cost of an iTunes song in Japan is higher than other places in the world. I've read that the average is yen. Furthermore a lot of Japanese music simply isn't made available to be purchase legally online.
One more thing to mention is that they've got a lot of "goodies" in place to discourage digital sales. But why would the artists care? Do they get money from the japanese government for that? Because it looks like the artists would still get their money no matter where the release is from. Not every consumer imports his music. They simply will reach more fans and even get known by more it is overall the better decision if they want to grow their fanbase. CDs are extremely expensive in Japan, to the point where it's cheaper for a Japanese person to import an album from America or Europe.
Japanese labels and publishers will therefore try to add something extra to the Japanese version to discourage people from going that route. I don't think they can. There are laws in Japan regulating prices for things like books and CDs. Selling them below the mandated price is illegal. It does nothing to enhance competitiveness. Not only are you reducing competition between different retail outlets, but you also make your domestic products less competitive against foreign products, thus the imports. Stability, perhaps, but whoever wrote that either doesn't know the meaning of "competitiveness" or is deliberately doublespeaking.
No, it shifts the competition to what kind of additional value the retailers can provide. If it's the same price at your store as it is everywhere else, then why should I buy it at your store? Do you have a better atmosphere? Friendlier or more knowledgeable staff? Will I have to stand in line to check out?
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What else can I purchase while I'm there? Personally, I'm way more interested in THAT kind of stuff being the winning strategies to succeed in that kind of market. It's similar to what grocery stores do here in America, it's wasteful, and it's why more people are going to no-frills, low-cost places. You say that but since a significant amount of people in Japan import anyway it seems the trade-off isn't worth it to many.
Bottom line is for most shopping you go to the place that sells you what you need at the lowest price. Price floors should really only be used in emergencies to be honest. What's the problem with allowing stores to compete by lowering prices to generate business this like macroeconomics If you've ever bought a Japanese CD you'll find they have many incentives designed to win purchases.
AKB48 and its sister groups have a minimum of 4 versions of each single. Each single contains the main track as well as minimum 1 b-side. Consider now there might be a fan club edition with a special track, a special Family Mart alternate cover, a bonus track only available from the version bought from mu-mo shop etc and each single ranges in price from JPY to JPY. Collectors will buy them, most fans will just buy the "most complete" version and casual fans will rent it so there is an obvious motivation to release as many versions as possible. It protects mom and pop stores from big retailers.
This prevents a big chain retailer from undercutting small stores until they're forced to go out of business, only to bump prices back up now that they have no competition. That's a whole other thing, though. It a very important difference.
But if the price is fixed to a lowest price, isn't the consumer loosing out on further possible discounts? It makes sense to regulate pricing on necessities. These regulations are different, because they are designed to protect the consumer from artificially high prices or gouging. I think it's absurd to regulate luxury items in the opposite direction because it only pushes them further out of reach of the lower classes. Free markets aren't all evil. We can leverage them to our advantage. Firstly, digital and illegal downloading isn't really a thing in Japan.
Many of the big publishers have not made their catalogs available on digital services. Japanese media companies actually succeeded at what made American media companies into villains: So Japanese have no way to get their favorite music except from physical media. Secondly, music publishers participate in price-fixing.
The price for the music is printed right on the packaging, and you don't have big stores trying to sell at a discount e. Best Buy, Wal mart , because they would lose the business of the publishers.
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Lastly, the market is inflated with special editions. A big part of Japan's music sales comes from obsessive fans of boy bands and idol groups and such that have to buy every single version of a CD single that comes out. So you end up with prices that are high because of lack of competition and high demand. Sure - they often sell blank CDs 15 years ago it was minidiscs right there near the checkout counter. This seems like the logical answer. I used to rip everything Netflix sent me back when they mailed DVDs instead of the streaming thing. I really wish VAP would put their signed bands on Spotify.
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I've always wondered why they haven't. On the other hand used cds, books these aren't so expensive even if new , games, movies cost basically nothing. Usually in perfectly good shape too. A new cd might be yen, two years later it's maybe yen. A new regular comic book is around yen, used ones yen.
I once worked for a label and it always seemed like they were chasing the short term 'gain' rather than focusing on the bigger picture. There are still a lot of executives who lived and worked through the high-rolling industry of the 90's before it started to collapse in the '00s I'm enjoying watching the industry adapt now as younger people who never experienced that now have their chance to revolutionise a stale, dying business.
I remember reading before that regular non-japanese versions of albums sold for next to nothing in markets in Japan, making the artists virtually no money. So the idea of adding a bonus tracks was introduced to encourage japanese people to pay a little more for the bigger albums. And yes, selling below the regulated price is punishable by law. So it's less a matter of not profiting enough and more a matter of profiting more than elsewhere, right?
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I'm not so sure about that This is a lot cheaper than the yen domestics but it's still around the price of a new cd in the States, if not a bit more. My band did this. Our label did not have great distribution in Japan and a Japanese label showed interest in putting our last album out there so we worked out a deal. We recorded one extra song, they included a Japanese translation of all the lyrics inside, and put our faces in stores all over Japan. We ended up selling more albums in the first month there than we did in the rest of the world in the first year.
Worked out well for everyone. Yep, this answer deserves more up votes. The Japanese music industry is pretty huge. Some teenage wannabe friends in the UK had a fairly ordinary four-piece and a crazy ambitious manager who took them on tour to Japan three times inside a year. Back home they struggled to get a crowd of at their gigs, but over there with a bit of clever PR and they were selling out venues of ten times that capacity, plus off-loading tons of merchandise.
They didn't ultimately make any serious money, because of the high expenses and the deal he'd put them on - but they had a wild time! Because the entertainment industry in Japan is fucked. For a variety of reasons, ALL cds sold at retail stores are sold at a government-regulated price. It is illegal to sell them for less. This means that if foreign labels want Japanese retailers to carry their product, they have to give them something that merits the higher price.
If the content was identical to the foreign import, there wouldn't be any reason for the consumer to buy the domestic version at the artificially inflated price point and thus no reason for retailers to bother carrying the product. The system, established in , allows owners of copyrighted material to set the minimum retail price of newly released or re-released products , thus eliminating any possiblilty of discounting.
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It's not the artists making it, it's the Japanese importer. Japanese consumers have historically preferred album booklets and ancillary materials to be in Japanese, and this necessitates a special run of albums, which is usually paid for by Japanese distributors. The distributor occasionally commissions translations and new art or adjusted art , where appropriate. Those distributors always add the "Obi", that paper sleeve on the left-hand side of the disc's case unique to Japanese releases.
All of these things drive up the price of the album, though, since distributors want to make a cut for the service they provide.
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To help offset this, and to keep Japanese consumers paying higher prices for localized albums rather than just buying the import in its original language , distributors often negotiate the addition of "B-side" tracks to help add some value. Many artists today are happy to include them, since recording sessions almost always produce more material than is fit for an album, and since it has become a tradition to put B-sides on Japanese discs.
Because of this system, and because the Japanese market is very unique, sales of physical media in Japan have not been affected by the internet to nearly the degree that they have been in the rest of the world. It just occurred to me that Obi literally means "sash", so it may not actually be from the kimono Obi.