Japan's Music Downloads Rise 30 Percent in Q3

Japan's Internet music market saw healthy growth in the third quarter of this year but a collapse in the once-mighty ringtone market led to mixed results for the cell phone sector of the country's digital music industry, according to figures released on Friday.

Total downloads over the Internet and on cell phones totalled 118 million during the July to September period, down 3 percent compared to the same three months of 2007, while revenues grew 11 percent to ¥22 billion, the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) said. The group collects data from most of Japan's major music publishers.

Growth was strong in the Internet download portion of the market where downloads jumped 30 percent to 10.6 million and revenue surged 49 percent to ¥2.3 billion. The relatively new music video download market more than doubled in size but was still small at 391,000 downloads.

Despite the strong growth in the Internet market still remains much smaller than that for cell phone platforms.

Total cell phone downloads in the quarter were 107 million, down 5 percent, and revenues were ¥19.5 billion, up 8 percent, according to the figures.

Among the downloads 44 million were for ringtones, down 23 percent, and 26 million from ringback tones -- the music you hear instead of a ringing tone on some cell phones. Downloads of full songs totaled 35 million tracks. On a revenue base ringtone sales were down 26 percent.

At ¥11.6 billion, sales of full songs via cell phones now make up more than half of the entire digital music market in Japan.

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