Hamasaki takes the ‘NEXT LEVEL’ in sales

by trinka on March 3, 2009 · 6 comments · AddThis

Ayumi Hamasaki 'NEXT LEVEL' USB ver.

J-pop queen Ayumi Hamasaki steps into a new era of marketing, offering a limited USB mass storage version of her new album NEXT LEVEL. Hamasaki has always been up to date, setting the latest trends and offering cutting edge releases so it is no surprise she has decided to take this bold step.

CD sales are in a steep decline, so steep that the rising digital sales are not enough to make up for the loss. Many Japanese artists have suffered a decline in overall sales, Hamasaki included. NEXT LEVEL’s USB’s mix of physical presence and digital versatility however, may be a turning point into the market. Could you imagine, having a specially designed flash drive for each album you own?

In the past, small indie artists have used this method of marketing but this will be the first time a major artist will dare to. Limited Edition as it is, I believe Ayumi will start to focus more on her digital sales as her sales methods have started to rely more on the new platform. Together When… was Ayumi’s first fully digital single, and it proved to be quite successful. Both Rule/Sparkle and GREEN/Days were released as a whole in online ringtones and both have also proven to be prosperous in sales. This type of pseudo-digital marketing may be just what Hamasaki’s tapering sales need to grow.

in use
USB in use

The flash drive itself will have a 2GB capacity and is shaped into the likeness of Ayu’s 10th anniversary logo. The album will use 800MB of space, containing thirteen tracks, 6 music videos and a digital lyric booklet, so the rest of the space is free to the buyer. The case will be yellow, part of NEXT LEVEL’s promotion and each version of the album will be a different color. Packaging will resemble a normal CD case, making it easier to display in retail stores.

I’m sure all of Ayu’s fans are very enthusiastic about the release as the USB version pre-orders were exhausted within ten minutes of being put online. The demand is so high that despite the whopping 6,800 yen price Avex will re-issue the version, manufacturing as many as ordered. Now this re-issue has a catch of course, the bonuses are removed and there is a price mark-up. From a pessimist’s angle, this seems to be forming into an tacky scheme to milk sales. Even so, this fresh new way of music retail seems very promising and I wish Hamasaki the best in her efforts.

“As the way we listen to music changes from day to day, I looked at things from the listener’s perspective and decided to sell it this way.”
-Hamasaki Ayumi

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

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About the author

trinka is a bit scatter brained and tends to rely on senior writers, but he is definitely here to stay and will become a better writer with time.

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[Blogs] NEXT LEVEL Of Hamasaki Ayumi | International Wota
March 3, 2009 at 4:00 pm

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

mangomalte SWEDEN July 17, 2009 at 5:13 pm

this is a pretty cool idea. though Ed Harcourt (whom i count as a major artist) was 20 days earlier with his release of hip EP Russian Roulette in a USB memory shaped like a bullet.


Johnson yip May 28, 2009 at 10:56 pm

The USB Drive is nice, but I wonder what kind of encoding does the songs use since if it is DRM then many people will not buy it since you can only play DRM songs on a limited number of Players, but if it is 320 KBPS MP3 then it will be nice.

I prefer CD since I get the choice of ripping the songs to any format and bit rate I like.


sanzo VIET NAM March 17, 2009 at 4:13 am

i like this USB !


Zutto UNITED STATES March 14, 2009 at 3:44 am

This thing is BEAUTIFUL. If only it weren’t so expensive. I’m definitely not spending that much for only 2 gigs.


Aprilis March 4, 2009 at 3:41 am

Thank you for this news! I’ve had internet access for the last 3 weeks, so it was a real surprise to read about this limited press item!

Ayu had always been known as someone who start changes and new trends. There’s no way of telling if this new idea will be successful or if other artist will follow. But in my book, Ayu has already succeed; I just checked online order site and the USB is sold out. But because the demand for this item it’s so great, avex has decided to fulfill all pre-order up till March 12.

Though this item is very nice, the price for this item is making me reconsider just how badly I want this.


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