Mobile tide lifts Japan music download biz

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TOKYO -- Japanese digital music download sales to mobile phones increased to 68 billion yen ($680 million) in 2007, offsetting the decline in CD sales to grow the overall music market, according to figures released by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

The total digital download market was up 41% to 75.5 billion yen ($755 million), with about 90% of this accounted for by mobile phones. Full-song downloads, as opposed to ringtones and other formats, grew fastest, up 91% compared with the previous year.

Despite a ninth successive annual drop in CD sales, the overall music market grew slightly to 466 billion yen ($4.6 billion) because of the strong growth in mobile downloads.

There were 434 million paid music downloads to mobiles in 2007, compared with 31 million for computers, "I think the sophisticated handsets and broadband access on mobiles contributes to the popularity of music downloads to phones, compared to other countries," RIAJ spokesperson Taizo Shinya said.

Although file sharing has yet to reach the levels seen in many other countries, the RIAJ is concerned about the growing problem and recently launched a TV advertising campaign discouraging illegal downloads to mobiles.
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