RDrake’s anime roamings

What is China’s role in furthering the J-pop industry?
September 23, 2006, 10:21 am
Filed under: General Schtuff, Music

Recently I went over to Sembawang Music (Compasspoint) to check out the lastest J-pop releases. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that certain albums which normally cost between SGD 18-22 were now selling at SGD 13 apiece. That’s basically a discount of 5-9 dollars. No joke. So what was the difference? Seems that the cheaper copies come from China.

Yep, this is the disc I bought, though the packaging is a little different…There’s no colour, more like the second pic.

Taiwan used to be the route through which Avex Trax released it’s Asian editions of it’s albums. (The main, and to a certain extent only, company which sells J-pop here is Avex). Now it’s China. Just how much can you cut on production costs of CDs that price differences of almost 10 dollars can be tolerated? Apparently alot.

Now this is may seem surprising to some, taking account the current frosty Sino-Japanese relations. However, the common misconception is that those relations affect business. Yes, it does to some extent, but the sheer difference in wealth between the two countries is big enough that Japan is becoming a HUGE investor in China.

Ok, enough of the political talk. I said before that I bought one such Made-in-China disc. how was it? In terms of sound quality, no different from the Made-in-Taiwan ones. Of course, I should have two sets of the same album to make a good comparison, but that’s expensive…

What other differences are there then? The shopkeeper said that the China discs are cheaper because they do not contain the music videos that can be found in the Taiwan made discs. Normally, the Taiwan discs contain one or two PVs for single artiste albums and almost the same number as the number of music tracks for compilations. These were noticibly absent in all the China discs I checked.

However personally I think that if I can save that much money simply by not watching the videos, it’s no loss. I’m not really a big fan of them in the first place (joys of not having grown up on MTV…).

The other big difference would be packaging I suppose. On first glance, sets appear very mcuh similar. However, the China packages are smaller, or rather, thinner. This is most likely directly attributable to the fact that there are no more videos, and the space once needed to hold the bonus disc is now gone. Other differences is that while in the Taiwan discs, only the Avex brand name is shown, the China discs hold both Avex’s logo and that of the Shanghai Record Company.

This is probably the biggest reason for the price drop. Avex has teamed up with a mainland company…So if the discs are to sell in China, the price has got to go down. Of course, while Avex may not be happy to lower it’s profits, the Shanghai Record Company is in a big position to make up for that loss through the utilization of it’s guanxi (basically relationships with those in power and in the business) and local knowledge to cut red tape and production costs.

And if you’re worried that the goods are bootleg? Fret not. Two reasons. One: The Avex logo, and sticker are both on the package, signifing some degree of authenticity. Two: A well-known and well-established name like Sembawang would never sell bootleg music in it’s outlets. It’s name will get dragged down into the mud.

The best part about these developments though, are probably to the customer. In a market area where interest in J-pop is not particularly high, (explains why only Avex exports here…), the choice of being able to buy cheaper discs is a great boon. Here’s a big cheer for the great people who made this happen, whoever you are!


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