The Tokyo Reporter

Apple streaming: Music to Japan’s ears?

Apple promises ’30 million songs for unlimited listening’
TOKYO (TR) – Apple’s new music streaming service may be the catalyst that triggers broader use of the Internet to listen to tunes in Japan.

Residents of Japan have long complained that they cannot enjoy streaming services such as Spotify, which are popular in the West. Apple Music, if it comes to Japan, could change that.

Apple, revealing the new service June 8 at its Worldwide Developers Conference, said it would be coming to 100 countries by the end of the month. Its Japanese page simply says “coming soon.”

Japanese media suggests that the service will enter the nation with a bang. While streaming services have so far struggled to get contracts with record companies, Apple promises “30 million songs for unlimited listening,” says Fashion Press (June 10).

The Mainichi Shimbun (June 10) suggests that compared to earlier models for streaming, those holding the rights to songs will get four times more. Speaking to the Japanese daily, an analyst from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking says that Apple’s move into the Japanese market could bring streaming mainstream.

While this sounds overly positive at the outset, questions as to how Apple’s service will manage to navigate the Japanese market remain.

Before the software goes public, it is difficult to see how a notoriously conservative domestic music industry will react to its introduction. Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC), essentially the nation’s sole music industry body, this week filed a lawsuit against 258 stores for playing music without a license to do so.

“Places are playing music without permission from the artists,” JASRAC says, citing locations such as hairdressers and bars.

Apple’s move into Japan could then make an existing problem worse.

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