‘Flavor’ single claims digital crown

Utada Hikaru tune sells 7 mil units

LONDON — EMI is celebrating a highly successful campaign for the release of “Flavor of Life” by Japanese superstar Utada Hikaru, which is laying claim to being the world’s biggest selling digital single with sales of seven million units across all formats.

Two different mixes of the song have been snapped up in their millions through a variety of digital products, including mobile phone ringtunes, full-track mobile downloads, fixed line downloads, ring videos and ringback tones.

Although EMI admits there is currently no official industry system for tracking the sales of singles across all digital and physical formats and products, either globally or in Japan, the Recording Industry Association of Japan claims the previous best selling digital single “Dragostea Din Tei” by O-zone, sold four million units, mainly ringtunes.

Meanwhile, the top selling digital song in the U.S. to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan, was “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter, which sold just over two million units in 2006, excluding ringtunes.

Nielsen RingScan states that the best selling ringtune in the U.S. to date is the 2.1 million-selling “Smack That” by Akon.

Hikaru’s “Flavor of Life” also holds the record for the most successful single of all time in Japan in terms of units sold across all formats with total sales now in excess of 7.7 million. The previous biggest selling single in Japan was the 1975 release “Oyoge, Taiyaki-Kun” by Masato Shimon, which sold 4.5 million units, according to Oricon, which compiles the Japanese charts.

Hikaru additionally holds the record for the best selling album of all time in Japan with her debut, “First Love,” which has sold nearly eight million copies, according to Oricon.

Jean Francois Cecillon, chairman and CEO of EMI Music Intl., said: “Utada Hikaru has once again led the Japanese music market into new areas of growth and success. ‘Flavor of Life’ has firmly established a new form of hit single —one where consumers can purchase music in whatever ways they choose. In the new music environment we must deliver multiple products for multiple consumers.”

EMI’s campaign for the single began when the ballad version was released as a ringtune in January to coincide with the launch of popular TV drama series “Hana yori Dango 2”: the show aired “Flavor of Life” in its entirety at the end of almost every episode.

Additional digital product types, such as ringvideos, ringback tones and ringtunes of the original version of the song were released in subsequent weeks, helping the single to sell over two million digital units in total by the time the physical single was released on Feb. 28.

EMI then further enhanced the growing success of Hikaru’s song with viral promotions, such as the creation of a “blog tag,” which enabled consumers to paste the single’s video into their personal blogs. In just one month the video was played more than 600,000 times.

Shoji Doyama, president and CEO, EMI Music Japan said: “We will continue to deliver our artists’ music in a variety of product types that is as diverse as consumers’ needs. There will be more and more cases like Utada Hikaru where hits come from a coordinated approach to physical and digital releases.”

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