Physical Starts Sliding In Japan; Mobile Numbers Await

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Physical formats are now taking a bath in Japan, a slide that mirrors global trends.

For the first quarter of this year, recording industry trade association RIAJ pointed to physical revenues of 74.6 billion yen ($719.4 million), a 12 percent decline year-over-year.

A bulk of the drop came from the once-powerful CD, which accounted for 98 percent of total physical revenues.  But the digital market in Japan continues to grow, thanks to a strong mobile music sector.

In 2006, mobile formats (ringtones, OTA downloads, ringback tones, others) accounted for 93.7 percent of the digital total.  In the past, mobile formats have helped to produce narrow recorded music gains, though more aggressive physical declines may now be overshadowing those contributions.