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The Japanese music market has faced hard times as of late. Starting with an announcement from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry in March that the country’s music sales dropped 16.7 percent in 2013, the past 12 months saw no particular upswing in physical or digital sales, therefore trying to draw a consensus of what’s actually popular here can be a challenge. The Oricon Charts, which only count physical sales, and various download rankings looked like totally different worlds at the end of 2014.

This problem of pinning down what is actually popular, however, isn’t only a problem in Japan. In Western countries, the music industry grappled with how best to approach (and profit from) emerging listening mediums such as streaming services and YouTube. As they wrestled with this, sales of music continued slipping. A report from Nielsen SoundScan in late June indicated that album sales across all formats dropped 15 percent.

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