Japan just took the experts by surprise.

The world’s second biggest recorded music market was widely expected to shrink in 2016, despite the launch of Spotify in the territory in September.

In fact, as MBW reported earlier this week, Japan’s music revenues actually grew 0.4% on 2015 – thanks largely to a resilient physical market (down just 2.7%) and a 12% growth in digital income.

Subscription streaming, as we’ve gotten so used to writing of late, bounded upwards, jumping61.4% to generate over US$180m.

Yet in the wider context of Japan’s physical-heavy market, this barely made a dent: streaming claimed just 8.7% of Japan’s total recorded music revenues in the year, with CD and vinyl generating more than 77%.

Universal Music Group, a $5bn+ company and the world’s biggest recorded music business, senses a big opportunity for growth in the territory.

It’s why Universal Music Japan (UMJ) swooped for Tokyo-based Office Augusta in December, bringing a ‘full-stack’ music company into its operation – including divisions acrossrecords, music publishing, live promotion and artist management.

MBW caught up with UMJ President & CEO Naoshi Fujikura to ask all about Japan’s potential, UMG’s plans in the region – and why Sir Lucian Grainge “understands better than anyone the importance of the Japanese market”… (MBW)
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