While Americans Steal Records, Japanese Buy Multiple Copies

'Limited Edition' Nike CDs Drive Fans Into Tizzy

By Published on .

Wow. We can't even get kids to buy CDs in the U.S., but the Japanese are forking over piles of yen for multiple copies of their favorite discs. If you need further proof that the Japanese music industry is still living large, consider that this phenomenon is happening at Tower Records, the chain of brick-and-mortar music stores that bit the big one in our country last year.

But why would kids buy CDs they already own? Through a marketing partnership with Nike, discs from a few popular artists are being repackaged with photos of the stars holding trainers. The news that these "special editions" are selling like plastic tiaras at a Hannah Montana concert must be bringing bitter tears to the eyes of some American record execs.

From the Wall Street Journal:
The "available-now-only" gimmicks not only satisfy a Japanese craze for new products; consumers see ownership of limited-edition items as a mark of distinction, says Michael Fiorella, owner of Tokyo marketing consultancy Spark Productions, who has advised Coach, Microsoft and other brands in Japan.

What is more, the boundaries between art and commerce are more blurred in Japan compared with other markets, he says. In the U.S., for example, an album associated so blatantly with a company or product may make an artist appear to be "selling out." But Japanese celebrities have always welcomed commercial promotions, Mr. Fiorella says.

"It's not as big of a leap as you might think to essentially move the location of an ad from TV or a train station, directly to the artist's work," he says.

Meanwhile, the Smashing Pumpkins put out a million versions of "Zeitgeist" last fall, and few people bothered to pick up any.

[Via Idolator/The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)]
Most Popular