This article was posted to the pure-japanese-rock mailing list, and it gives a nice glimpse into the workings of the Japanese music industry in Japan. Shigeo Maruyama quit his job as head of Epic Records to launch his own independet label, 247 Music. The article has a few interesting tidbits.
“The 3,000 yen price tag of a CD in Japan reflects the staffing levels (at major labels here) rather than a large profit margin,” Maruyama says.
He also says Japanese major labels are loathe to subcontract, hiring their producers and publicists in-house. The final sentence in the article is particular telling.
“Recordings may just become a tool for promoting the live performances of artists,” Maruyama says, suggesting that “gigs-and-T-shirts,” in addition to other forms of merchandising, may become far more significant sources of income for established artists in the future.
That’s already the reality in the States — bands don’t make much money off CDs. They make it on touring and merchandise.