fascinates: (gyakuten saiban | ema power)
nikki ♫ ([personal profile] fascinates) wrote in [community profile] ofurotaimu2011-09-25 01:36
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A Guide to Buying Vocaloid/Utaite CDs and Other Merchandise

When Vocaloid was still in its newbie stage, it was almost impossible to get CDs and other stuff online. Usually, you have to go to Comiket and other events to buy them. However, because of the slowly growing international fanbase, most of the Vocaloid CDs as well as merchandise related to Nico Nico Douga (utaite CDs) are readily available online. You just know where to look.

I've had some people asking how to buy Vocaloid CDs outside Comiket, so here's my guide to those who are interested in starting a Vocaloid or Utattemita collection, be it CDs or other merchandise. A word of warning that this guide will give you an incredible urge to buy things :).




HOW TO BUY VOCALOID/UTAITE-RELATED STUFF

First things first. You need money to buy stuff. And in order to use that money to pay for merchandise, you have to have a credit or debit card. Any card with Visa/Mastercard marks will do. If you are underage and you do not have a card, you'll have to find another way to buy things ^^;.

Second, you have to register for a Paypal account. Most shops use Paypal as a means for paying to their site. Also, it gives you more security when using your credit/debit card to buy online. You can learn about signing up for a Paypal account here.

Now that we're clear on the money issue, we can go to the shop issues.



For the purpose of this guide, we will mainly talk about Vocaloid and Nico Nico Douga-related CDs, but the shops we're including here also sell Vocaloid figures, collectibles and sometimes doujinshi. There are also tons of shop selling Vocaloid stuff in many languages, especially Chinese stores. In this guide, we'll onlly include shops that are English/Japanese and can cater to international customers.

Vocaloid music can be bought in two formats: hard copy and soft copy. Hard copy means concrete, tangible CDs. Soft copy means .mp3 formats of the songs, whether individual or as a set (album). Not all albums can be bought as .mp3 and vice-versa, so keep in mind that you have to check the formats before deciding to buy.

Let's talk about hard copies first. I like buying hard copies because I like looking at CD booklets and piling CDs in my nonexistent shelf. Some people like buying CDs for the sake of collecting and pretty stuff that come with the CDs (posters, phone straps, coasters, mousepads, etc.). There are two categories from where you can buy your Vocaloid CDs.




SHOPS WITH INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING


When you shop in Internet stores offering international shipping, you can select your stuff in their site, put them in the cart and check out directly. Most of these shops are also in English, which makes it easier for you to order and buy. As they have international shipping, you only pay the base price of the CDs you buy plus the shipping fees, which can range from expensive EMS to free, depending on the store you buy from and the shipping service you choose.

YESASIA
YesAsia is a big entertainment store based in Hongkong, US, Korea and Japan, and you can read their site in English, Japanese and Chinese. It's just recently that YA began listing Vocaloid and Utaite CDs in their site, right after some Ps and singers became pro. They now have a Vocaloid list and an Utaite/Nico Nico Related list for shopping convenience. I still cannot forgive them for listing Clear as Todd R. Clear but I still buy stuff from them because they deliver fast.

CDJapan
CDJapan is another big entertainment site, though dominantly selling Japanese stuff most of the time. This is Neo Wing Co.'s English store. CDJapan started selling Vocaloid/Utaite stuff after they're reflected in the Oricon charts. Like YesAsia, it now has a Nico Nico Douga list.

Amazon.co.jp
Amazon.com has Vocaloid CDs, actually, but they're of limited quantity and variety. Amazon Japan has a more extensive list and you can browse their products in English or Japanese. It doesn't have a straight list like the previous ones, but you can do a search in the site instead. Some stuff not sold in YA or CDJ are sold in Amazon Japan, so sometimes it's helpful to browse their store for updates. The problem with Amazon Japan is that it automatically uses a secure shipping system, so you might get bigger fees with them because of shipping.

Amiami
Amiami is primarily a toy shop, so there's a very limited selection of CDs in it. However, they still have them and if you want to buy toys and CDs and get them shipped in one package, it's helpful to browse Amiami's site. They do not have a fixed list, too, but you can do a search.

Mandarake
Mandarake is actually a series of shops all over Japan, but they have an online store in English where you can order stuff which are displayed in their stores. They have reasonable prices most of the time but rare items are VERY expensive (like that 12k Smiley*2 DVD XD). The only problem with their site is that you have to manually search for what you want, and since they have a lot of stores, the items you want might be available in different places. It's advisable that you try to order from just 1 store for easier shipping.


While there are many international shops that offer Vocaloid/Utaite CDs, most of the time they just sell those under major labels. This means that doujin stuff sold in Comiket, Vocaloid Master, etc. are most often not sold in these shops. If you are aiming for CDs which are hard to find or if you are after major releases but hope to have shiny tokuten (special stuff) with them, you have to buy them from shops that do not ship outside Japan. Wait, what?




SHOPS WITHOUT INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING


Most producers and utaite do not advertise their releases by linking to YA or CDJ (they do link Amazon, though). They usually link to shops which have real stores in Japan. Sadly, these shops normally do not ship outside Japan, which is why you need to use a shopping service/deputy site in order to buy from them.

A deputy site/shopping service is a third-party service wherein you "hire" them to buy things for you. Basically, you ask them to buy you stuff from a certain Japan-only shop. Then they charge you a commission and domestic shipping fee. Then ship the item to you. As you noticed, there are a couple of additional steps in ordering, so you have to pay a lot more for the items you want. Because of this, buying from Japan-only Internet stores can be very, very expensive, but really rewarding.

You can learn more about shopping services and how they work in this guide.

Animate
Animate is the most popular non-international site in this fandom, basically because almost all major releases are released through them. Aside from that, they have special tokuten for some of the CDs they release. For example, buying a CD from them will not only get you that CD's basic additional stuff, you also get special Animate-only stuff like phonestraps, postcards, photographs, boxes, pencil boards or other things they can think of. Animate also sells more utaite-related stuff than Vocaloid stuff, so if you're more into utattemita, then Animate should be your first stop. [personal profile] stephieku has kindly linked us the major albums (anime, utaite, etc) listing, the special utaite releases listing (music + other items) and the doujin music listing. Thanks!

Toranoana
Of all the stores I'm listing here, Toranoana has the most extensive collection of Vocaloid and utaite-related CDs. This is because they almost exclusively release Comiket stuff and most people prefer releasing their doujin stuff through their site. You can view all the NND-related CDs in this list; or more specifically, lists for Vocaloid releases and Utaite releases. Toranoana also has special Comiket release lists every event, so if you're updated with the CDs in Comiket, you might want to check that list. Toranoana, like Animate, also like giving special stuff with some of their CDs, so it's also a treat to buy from them.

Melonbooks
Melonbooks is originally a doujinshi site, but some utaite and Ps release their works here. The list here is not as extensive as Animate's or Toranoana's, but you can search for CDs in their shop, too.

Wondergoo
This is a lesser known shop, but Wondergoo actually has a pretty good collection of Vocaloid and utaite CDs. In fact, they also offer special tokuten for some of their CDs, like with Clear's Dearest II. They are also nice that they have a Nico Nico Douga stuff list for convenience.

Three!
This is another popular site, albeit a small one. Three! is actually a shop that almost exclusively sells Nico Nico Douga stuff, specifially utaite ones. When you visit their site, most of the products are utaite albums. You can also find here stuff that aren't sold anywhere in the sites I mentioned, like DaGero's DVDs, Mi-chan's necklace charm and Dasoclear's phone straps.

Nico Nico Chokuhan
The Nico Nico Shop itself is a chock-full of NND products, obviously. Not only does it have SOME utaite/Vocaloid CDs. They also have Nico Nico Douga souvenirs and a variety of other merchandise like DVDs of musicals, photosets, collectibles and figures.


There are many other sites in Japan that sell some Vocaloid/utaite-related CDs, like Tower Records Japan. I just included here the popular ones. Also, it is true that you will have to spend a lot more money in these sites, not only for the shipping/third party site fees but also merely for the fact that they have wider selections and thus more tempting stuff to buy ^^;.

Now, if you're worried about shipping and extra handling fees and you don't particularly care about getting booklets and special freebies, you can just buy music online as a .mp3 file, using Internet stores, too.






SHOPS THAT SELL DIGITAL COPIES


There aren't many utaite-related stuff that get released as soft copies. Usually, this is handy if you want to buy Vocaloid music. Most Vocaloid albums/singles/mp3s that are released as soft copies are released by KarenT, a music label for digital copies of music. This is the hard and soft copy releases are seldom the same. There are stuff available only as CDs while some are available only in digital format.

iTunes
All KarenT releases are released in iTunes Music Shop. Of course, buying them is easier because you just have to click and pay and not worry about shipping.

Amazon
Amazon Music Download is less varied and broad as KarenT's/iTunes releases but sometimes they have digital copies of albums that aren't released under KarenT. Utaite stuff like Usacolony can also be bought in Amazon's Download Shop.

HearJapan
This site is a direct distributor of KarenT-released music and it is in English, making it easier for you to buy. Although it doesn't have utaite-related stuff, it has a wide selection of Vocaloid music.

[personal profile] stephieku has kindly compiled a list of Nico Nico Douga Indies, Utaite and Vocaloid releases (sans KarenT releases) in an organized post. Please refer to it if you plan on buying digital formats!

While being obviously cheaper, buying digital copies lacks of eyecandy in the form of booklet and freebies. But if you're just concerned about the music itself, then it's no problem.




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Here are some questions which have been asked before/might be bothering you:


What is your advice about Internet shopping?
Three things:

1. Buy in bulk. Shipping is a LOT cheaper when you buy in bulk.
2. Count your money before and after you make a transaction. Make sure you're not short of money or they won't send you your stuff!
3. Do not buy from shady, unknown websites.

What about auction sites like Yahoo Japan?
I've bought Vocaloid CDs from auctions before, and sometimes they're sold way low (2nd hand, old CDs) or very high (rare CDs/DVDs). Some utaite discourage buying from auction sites, especially since most CDs are available in Internet shops anyway. I think auction sites should just be used if you desperately want something that is out of print or unavailable online.

What if I don't have a credit card?
Some shops accept other payment methods like check and money order. However, as I said, the easiest way to buy online is using a credit/debit card. If you're on a tight budget, I suggest using a debit card so you can control your purchases more.

What if I can't have a credit card but I want to buy?
This is quite a problem, as I've experienced this before XD. Not sure if they will work, but here are a few suggestions:
1. Visit local cons for CDs. Anime Expo had shops that sell Vocaloid stuff, so it's possible that in other conventions, there will also be shops that sell Nico Nico Douga things. I bought my first Vocaloid CD (Zaneeds XD) from a second-hand CD booth in a convention here in the Philippines, so don't lose hope and search!
2. Find someone in your area who sells Vocaloid/Utaite stuff. Some people sell off clones of the stuff they bought or stuff they want to part with already. If they are in your area, you can ask for a meetup for cash payment instead of paying online.
3. Participate in group shopping. Make sure your friends are okay with this. If one of your friends has a card, you can ask him/her to order for you instead and pay her/him as she does you a favor. It's one of the most effective way, of course, but make sure you ask someone you trust (and pay them early!) XD




If you have other questions, or if you know of a good shop that sells Vocaloid/utaite music, please don't hesitate to write a comment! :)
stephieku: (Default)

[personal profile] stephieku 2011-10-30 07:50 (UTC)(link)
Also I noticed that Toranoana has a listing for Doujin Utattemita releases here. However it seems to be quite short and limited. Most of Nico Nico Indies and utaite doujin works are under the doujin category. It's still a helpful link.
stephieku: (Default)

[personal profile] stephieku 2011-11-02 08:31 (UTC)(link)
Also here's a Toranoana listing for Vocaloid (doujin) CDs/goods!
http://www.toranoana.jp/mailorder/cit/genre/2/1042_01.html