Pusan closer makes music in digital arena

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TOKYO -- Digital download sales of songs by Hikaru Utada to the end of September have already hit nearly 10.5 million according to EMI Japan, the first artist worldwide to break the 10 million mark in a single year.

Digital downloads, which in Japan are dominated by contents for the mobile phone market, amounted to 10,491,000 from January to September, selling more in nine months than anyone has managed in a year.

The song 'Beautiful World' has been downloaded over 800,000 times, boosted by its inclusion in the movie "Evangelion 1.0 You are (not) alone". The tune is used for the closing credits of the new cinematic version of Hideaki Anno's anime classic, which has been chosen to close the Pusan International Film Festival after a huge opening in Japan last month.

"We know that "Beautiful World" sales were helped by the release of "Evangelion" because at weekends after young people have been to see the movie, there is a huge rush of downloads," said Nozomu Kaji from EMI Japan.

"In Japan, almost of the music downloads are for mobile phones, like most the 800,000 downloads for "Beautiful World". These days tracks are released for mobiles before the CD is out," said Ritsuko Jinno, from PR at EMI Japan.

With high-speed internet connection on 3G phones the standard for most of Japan's 100 million handsets, music and video downloads, along with a host of other contents, is a fast-growing market.

"For a download release like "Beautiful World," there are ringtones, full song versions and songs with videos. The video version, which used scenes from "Evangelion" is particularly popular," EMI's Jinno said.
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