In a recent press release published by their business division, holding company Oricon Inc. has announced that as of April 6th this year their sales charts will no longer include any version of a release which is sold in a music card format. Music cards are a type of physical media with which a code is enclosed that will allow the buyer to download the contents of a particular single or album digitally to their computer or other device of choice.
For a full explanation of the company’s reasoning for this sudden change to their counting policy, as well as a look at what this might mean for other controversial sales methods, please read on below.
Prior to this decision, Oricon’s stance on the inclusion of new media to their sales charts relied on three distinct conditions that the format in question was required to meet:
- That it is possible to record the sale of this format in the same manner as is done for traditional CDs and LPs.
- The format must be able to provide the contents of a release in an equivalent fashion to the purchase of a CD; for example, the JAN (Japanese Article Number) code on a music card must facilitate the acquisition of the tracks included in a release just as easily as a CD would.
- The sales data for this new format must must be considered to be a reliable metric that accurately reflects and does not distort the sales climate for a particular act.
Up to this point, music cards were seen as satisfying the three above criteria and, like several other pieces of newer media, were added to the sales counts of those releases which made use of them. However, over the past several months Oricon became aware of an increase in the amount of critical opinions directed at them for this practice and as such made the decision to look into the situation themselves.
Based on the results of a study conducted by the company, it has come to light that 1). The download rate associated with music cards that have been purchased is actually incredibly low compared to the overall amount sold and 2). That the cost of these music cards is significantly below that of a conventional CD, which has resulted in the bulk-buying of products on several occasions; the frequency of these occurences have made it difficult to call each such event an independent occurence rather than an attempt to distort the accuracy of the chart.
As a result of these findings, Oricon has decided that the best solution for this situation is for them to discontinue the inclusion of music cards on their sales charts. The company has stressed that this shift in policy is based on a firm belief that the primary goal of their data collection is to “precisely convey music hits”, which the distortion caused by the use of music cards does not allow them to do. Furthermore, Oricon have made a commitment to deal with similar methods that both already exist and that will come to exist in the future so that they can continue to preserve and improve the reliability of their charts.
Lastly, as regards those releases in the past which have already made use of music cards, it has been decided that their sales totals will remain the same so as to avoid confusion and other such issues.