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Spotify finally launches in Japan

News, 03 October 2016

TOKYO: Spotify, the Swedish music-streaming service, announced its debut in Japan at the end of last week, but it could face an uphill battle in a country where CDs and vinyl still account for about 80% of music sales.

Undaunted, Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek was reported by the Japan Times to have told a press conference that he was excited to be able to "bring the two million artists around the world to Japan and of course to take the Japanese artists that we all love to the rest of the world".

With sales of nearly $3bn a year, Japan is the second-largest music market in the world and could prove to be lucrative for Spotify, which will try to compete with established players, such as Apple Music, Line Music and Amazon Prime Music.

However, unlike its rivals, Spotify will become the only major music-streaming service that offers a "freemium" service – a free option supported by advertising or an ad-free subscription service, costing 980 yen ($9.60) a month.

"It's a huge deal that it's basically free," commented Mikiro Enomoto, a digital music consultant. "You can share, just like through YouTube."

However, he cautioned that Spotify's limited collection of Japanese songs could prove to be problematic and explained this was a reason why music-streaming services have failed to take off in Japan as they have elsewhere.

But with 40m paying customers – and another 60m using Spotify Free – Akira Nomoto, Head of Licensing and Label Relations at Spotify Japan, expressed confidence that the company will succeed in the tough Japanese market.

"Spotify is an international platform," he said. "We aim to connect Japanese musicians with the 100m users that we have. We'd like to become a business that can contribute to the growth of the Japanese music industry."

Data sourced from Japan Times; additional content by Warc staff