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Japan: Billy Joel’s ’52nd Street’ among first releases for Sony’s return to vinyl

Sony Music Entertainment will reissue Billy Joel's
Sony Music Entertainment will reissue Billy Joel’s “52nd Street” on vinyle in March as a part of its return to the analog format (Fuji News Network)

TOKYO (TR) – Sony Music Entertainment (SME) has revealed that a reissue of the 1978 album “52nd Street” by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel will be one of the first releases pressed to vinyl later this year as a part of the company’s return to the analog format after a near three-decade hiatus.

On Thursday, the company said that “52nd Street,” for which Joel won two Grammys, and “Yume de Aetara,” a compilation of tracks by Japanese musician and songwriter Eiichi Ohtaki, will be released on vinyl on March 21.

In 1989, SME ended vinyl production due to the advent of compact discs, which entered the market seven years before. For decades, exactly one vinyl plant in Kanagawa Prefecture was responsible for the nation’s output.

However, a renaissance for analog music has emerged in recent years, with the market in Japan growing to roughly 10 times what it was in 2009, when about 102,000 albums were shipped, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

In response to the trend, SME last year said a subsidiary would operate a record-pressing plant in Shizuoka Prefecture to meet the huge demand for vinyl records that has since emerged.

Michinori Mizuno, the Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director of SME, said in a statement released on Thursday that Japan’s annual market for vinyl has recently grown to about 3 billion yen, or roughly one-tenth that of the U.S.

"Yume de Aetara"
“Yume de Aetara” by Eiichi Ohtaki

“Japanese people have a strong attachment to packages”

In explaining the trend and predicting it will continue, Mizuno indicated that the vinyl format has a particular appeal to Japanese people. “Analog records are more likely to penetrate [the market] since Japanese people have a strong attachment to physical packages,” the CEO said. “For Sony, I would like to see analog records as a growth area whereby other related businesses work together to expand the overall market.”

At the time of its announcement last year, SME said that it would be mainly reissuing releases by Japanese artists along with new titles with the output being primarily sold domestically.

“In the future, we will further increase our lineup and make enhanced efforts such that more people will realize the appeal of analog records,” Mizuno said in the statement.