The State of Sound


Japan, Act II : CDs continue to hold their own in Japan


CDs have become rather scarce on retail shelves in Europe and elsewhere in the world, the same is not true in Japan, where sales of physical media (i.e., CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records) still account for 80% of all media sales. Indeed, in 2012, CD sales even climbed by almost 10%. It is true that these sales are significantly boosted by boy bands and girl bands, whose CDs sell by the millions thanks to the sales of many associated, complementary products, such as autographs, posters, or concert tickets. Record companies stage a multitude of events to cater to passionate, frenzied fans, who sometimes become obsessed with their idols. However, Japan is also a country of contrasts and demonstrates a large degree of musical diversity: when I visited Tower Records, a retail outlet that specializes in CD and vinyl record sales, I was impressed with the store’s extensive offerings—there was a large selection of both classical music and jazz. Although I knew that Japan is a nation of music lovers, I was nonetheless surprised to discover that sales of CDs are still going strong in the so-called land of geeks.

I was also pleasantly surprised to discover the existence of “music tea rooms,” which are cafés that are dedicated to the music lovers. I visited the oldest music tea room in Tokyo, the Lion, which was founded in 1925. The place came off as a bit outdated. It felt like I was in a church—in the Lion, silence reigns, and all the tables face the musical altar: an impressive set of loudspeakers mounted in an enormous wooden structure that is reminiscent of an organ you would find in a cathedral. At the Lion, only classical music is on the menu. A new “playlist” is printed every day; it contains a detailed program that includes the times at which different pieces will be played. There is no entrance fee, but drinks are a bit pricier here than elsewhere. It would seem that there are other music tea rooms in Tokyo; I will take another wander around the capital before my trip ends in the hopes of discovering a few more…

Here are some pictures about the abundance of CDs, the Sony building and the Lion…


















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This entry was posted on 24/10/2014 by in Reports and tagged , , , .
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