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2022 Music Retail Report (Jan. – June)
2022 business started early January in the growing threat of Omicron variant, but as corona virus-related restrictions eased after spring, we are returning to pre-pandemic social conditions. Live events got started again, and school music bands are finding increasing opportunities to perform for audience.
Early June, Japan Music Trades interviewed 40 leading music retailers throughout Japan to know YTD music products sales and business trend.
Many music retailers commented that customer traffic increased early May as COVID19-related social restrictions moderated, but only 57.5% of them replied that sales grew, 30% reported decline, and 12.5% mentioned consistent over the corresponding period of last year.
The interview showed 37.5% of the music retailers most expected to resume musical events and music promotional activities which they restrained for the last 3 years in coming months. 17.5% also expressed to upgrade product selections, and 17.5% were interested to redesign sales floor more attractive for customer.”
Here are the excerpts of the interviews of 15 music retailers
“Competitions, live events as well as school music activities are back. We see a growing sign of recovery in the market. Probably, we can gain around10% sales increase this year. Though we had been suffered from shortage of products supply since last couple of years, the situation has much improved these days. Having rich selection of school instruments is the key for us as it allows students to choose most suitable instruments from the broad inventories.
“We feel adult players who started music making for the first time in the last two years are increasing. The virus much affected our business, but I say it brought us unexpected opportunities to expanding base of music makers.”
Mitsuhiro Sekiya, president, Sankyo Gakki, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido Pref.
“New cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant still impact business in this area. Entry models of guitars, drums and synthesizers are hardest hit as band students ceased coming to the store. While demands for used instruments including original and vintage models are growing. In addition to those unique guitars, we are now more concentrated on purchase of used digital pianos and digital drums.
“Much of our business relies on school market. What we are concentrating now is to promote our store, teaching and rental studios to the local students and band members. As part of our marketing plans, we plan small concerts for music course students for the first time after the pandemic. Real-time music experience is the largest advantage that physical store can offer.”
Fumiki Togawa, president, Groovin’ Music, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori Pref.
“Purchasing pattern greatly differs area by area in Akita. It’s not surprising that parents in Akita city buy bass clarinet, bassoon and limited edition flute priced around 1 million yen as a congratulatory gift of entering senior high school for their children.
“The pandemic gave me a lesson for future business, adapting to change of society and lifestyle. How much environment changes, our policy to be a reliable music store in the community will remain unchanged, I believe.”
Shintaro Izumi, president, All Musical Instruments Shop Kaneki, Yokote-shi, Akita Pref.
“Curtailed school music education is still affecting our business. Shortage of supply of digital piano also impacts our sales.
“Band music at junior high school is threatened as teachers face work style reform and declining enrolment of students by low birthrate. I expect the music products industry can work together to support music activities offering players performance opportunities.”
Yukiyasu Kanuka, Managing Director, Tosando, Morioka-shi, Iwate Pref.
“Sales and music teaching operations are improving after the May holidays. We also closed our annual sales campaign successfully in May though not at the level we previously experienced before the pandemic.
“It’s good that we revived musical events for customers and students in almost the same scale and timing as 3 years ago. Real time experience is the edge of the music retail business. “
Masatoshi Matsuura, President, Sanritsu Gakki, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Pref.
“Shipment delay of imported products has been the largest challenge. In addition, we are much worried that price hike will continue due to weaker Yen. It may influence purchase decision of customer in the long run.
“We have difficulties to stock digital piano, particularly of the targeted price range. As to entry models we have substantial inventory, but they face serious competition with mass merchants and Internet retailers.
“A larger network and collaboration with outside industries including local café and restaurants as well as artists can expand approaches to prospective music makers, we think.”
Yuichi Ueda, President, U-One Music, Fukushima-shi, Fukushima Pref.
“We plan to carry our original promotional activities, for example, violin salon concert arranged with on-site sales promotion,sales campaign inviting artists we are closely associated, and have them play multiple models of different makes at the sales floor.
“Nevertheless, we are responsible for supporting music activities as a music store in the community.”
Zenichiro Tomioka, President, Tomioka Music Head Store, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata Pref.
“While sales of new products remain stagnant, demands for used guitar is growing. Regardless of price range, unique and vintage models sell out instantly as they are put on shelf. We buy more used guitars these days as retired businessmen bring their gears or sellers increased in the pandemic．High inventory turn out of used guitars well compensates loss of sales of other categories.
“We have done whatever we can from physical store marketing, net sales, cultivation of school market to enhanced studio and rental businesses during the pandemic, and all our efforts to survive have paid. In rebuilding our business, we are shifting responsibilities to younger generations. We believe they will explore the business with innovative and original ideas.”
Shigeki Ebara, Store Manager, Dust Bowl Musical Instrument Shop, Isesaki-shi, Gunma Pref.
“Business is gradually getting back this year. Sales of high-end guitars are growing among professionals and core user group. Large stack-type amps are also selling well. Installation business goes well but 90% of event projects were lost in the last 3 years.
“Demands from pop music bands at school continued during the pandemic as school music activities were not much affected in this area. I believe we can keep supporting them and meet the demands for music making. Because people stayed home longer than before and have increased time for leisure, new applications for music lesson programs are growing.
“There is more we can do in doing business online. How can we show touch and easiness of play of listed instruments? Customer wants more details of products when shopping online. We want to find right answers.”
Shoichi Onuma, President, Music Plant, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki Pref.
“While we feel customer traffic and demands returned to near the level before the pandemic, shortage of products and ongoing price hike impact recovery of business and market. Newly adopted ‘work from home’ practice has caused decline of adult music makers dropping in store after work in the evening of weekdays.
“Online sales of device for music production and streaming at home dramatically increased last year. But it has passed the peak of sales this year. We see customer wants real time musical experience and live music performance more than ever. To meet the needs in changing society, we built a new retail structure that is to offer customer of acoustic instruments digital applications that they have never experienced before such as equipment for music production, streaming and recording on the same floor.”
Masaki Yamada, executive managing director, Ikebe Musical Instruments Store, Tokyo
“Business is apparently returning to the level of pre pandemic, but sales of guitars priced over 300,000 yen remain slow. Just because wholesale price of guitars is increasing, it’s uncertain that customer accepts the price hike at retail level.
“Physical store and net sales should be well coordinated in retail business. We feel customer is more inclined to real time experience, and to feel touch and sound of instruments themselves at sales floor. To better serve their needs, we are determined to stock best possible selections of guitars.”
Chihiro Kudo, Supervising Manager, Ishibashi Music Corporation, Tokyo
“The flagship model of Kawai, Shigeru Kawai grand piano has been much appraised since last year after the piano drew attention at the last Chopin Competition. Compared with the period before the pandemic, sales have nearly doubled.
“On the contrary, sales of digital piano were impacted by delay of shipment related to lockdown in Shanghai and chip shortage.
“The pandemic reminded people that music and musical instruments can make their life richer, brighter and bring wellness. We believe what we can offer customer as a physical store is real time experience, face-to-face communication and information.”
Tomohiro Ohuchi, Store Manager, Kawai Omotesando, Tokyo
“We have renovated our outlets one by one in the last couple of years. The redesigned exterior and sales floor look to be well accepted by customer, ant it has much contributed to increase sales of guitars offsetting dip of other product categories during the hard times.
“There is no difference among net sales, mail order and in-store sales today. They all work making sales success when properly coordinated. Intimate communication with customer and helpful advice are required when selling online. As a matter of fact, outlets free from the concept of existent business models as online, mail order and physical stores are doing successful business.”
Kaita Nose, Manager, T. Kurosawa & Co., Ltd., Tokyo
“Sales has not yet completely returned, but trombone and tuba which we have heavily promoted so far keep outstanding sales. We are confident in high standard of quality of our products. Customer will understand it by looking and experiencing the instruments at the sales floor.
“Our efforts to improve our website, develop original software applications and products selection during the pandemic are now paying.”
Shinsuke Harada, Store Manager, DAC, Tokyo
“We feel demands are growing for wind and percussion instruments these days. School bands have started activities again and adult players come to us to search upper class models.
“Much of our business shifted to EC in the last 2 years, and our business expanded as we expected, but we see customer returns to the sales floor after May. We appreciate this move as we can communicate with customer in person and offer them what they need.
“Joined Hibiya Music Festival in Tokyo in June, we felt strong desire of people to go out and enjoy music together with friends. Exactly it’s the time we start musical events again not held for the last 3 years.”
Shinya Takano, Manager, Sales Division, Yamano Music, Tokyo