The Japanese music industry made some noise when 30 different record labels announced that they were partnering up to create a global music streaming service. It’s currently exclusive to Japan, but the ANiUTa service has plans of launching globally later this year with over 50,000 anime songs!
Shiro Sasaki, President of ANiUTa, commented about the goal behind the platform. He said the current anime music industry, “…is plateauing and is no longer profitable.”
Yeah, sounds like standard business lingo, but Sasaki went further to talk about the outdated business model the anime industry uses, which has been echoed in the past by anime directors and producers:
“To say it plainly, we formed this company in order to make anime’s future sustainable…Thinking of the anime industry in general, new anime are broadcast, but the system of recouping all costs with Blu-ray and DVD sales is plateauing a little as well and becoming less profitable. Since anime music is, first of all, an anime-related product, it’s only natural that it would follow the same declining trend.”
Sasaki’s words are backed by the yearly industry reported that has been released by the Association of Japanese Animators. Home video sales continue to plummet due to a combination of high prices and more accessibility to legal online distribution. And while CD music sales have fallen, digital purchases and attendance for anime-related concerts have grown by 110%.
But what is really striking is that Sasaki believes it’s time for the industry to move away from catering to otaku and instead focus on “light users.” He said that light users are young fans who love anime but aren’t buying Blu-rays, DVDs, and music CDs to due price and being raised in a digital age. Instead, they are more likely to support anime by purchasing merchandise, going to events (like anime conventions), and consume media digitally. The reason for moving away from the otaku crowd? They are way too niche and titles catering to otaku have trouble making money back.
Sasaki also believes the financial and positive fan reception of titles like Your Name show that the anime industry doesn’t have to cater to otaku. Also, the perception, at least in Japan, that only hardcore otaku watch anime is fading away. Another progressive view is that Sasaki feels the anime industry should cater to the needs of international fans. Often times a series may be a flop in Japan but is a hit outside of the country, which is something the industry should act on.
He commented that the health of the industry relies on light users and that, “…if young people don’t continue to become fans, it will cause the industry to gradually shrink.”
Looks like ANiUTa maybe the first big change to incorporate the voices of international fans into the anime industry. The music streaming service is aiming to capture the global audience. Most of anime’s music is copywritten and hard to find legally, which is something the service is aiming to fix. They will also have an online shop selling goods to fans, allowing for some sort of direct contribution for fans who don’t want to buy expensive Blu-ray sets. Who knows, maybe ANiUTa can be the first step in modernizing how the anime model works.