After more than a year of hinting, Spotify is finally coming to Japan this month. The Swedish music streaming service will go live in the country before the end of September, a source at the company confirmed to TechCrunch.
The Nikkei earlier this summer reported that the launch was imminent. The publication, one of Japan’s leading business publications, said that Spotify Premium would cost around 1,000 yen (close to $10) per month, and that’s the same price range we have heard.
This launch in Japan, the planet’s second largest music market based on sales, has been a long time coming for Spotify, which recently passed 40 million paying customers. Last October — yes, nearly one year ago — we reported that the company was increasing its focus on Asia with plans to land in Indonesia and Japan. That Indonesia expansion happened in March of this year, and Spotify has been focused on bringing its service online in Japan since then.
Spotify’s Tokyo office has been open for 18 months but it has been hiring in the country for two years. Yet, it has sat back and watched as others have beaten it to the punch in Japan. Messaging service Line, which went public earlier this year and has nearly 70 million users in Japan, launched a music streaming service in Japan last year, while Apple, Google and even domestic e-commerce giant Rakuten have piled in with rival services.
Spotify has certainly taken its time building out a team in Tokyo — it is currently hiring for nine other positions — but there is some logic behind the delay. Japanese consumers still prefer to buy CDs and there’s plenty of resistance to streaming and other online models from record labels. But, with annual music sales estimated at nearly $3 billion, Japan is a market that streaming companies hope can become equally as lucrative for them. That’s particularly important for Spotify given rumors of a public listing in the not too distant future.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek subtly revealed its latest user milestone this week
Spotify has brokered deals with labels in Japan — and even hired staff from them — and it’ll be banking that the competition, which haven’t exactly set the world on fire there yet, have created early demand for streaming which it can piggyback on. Now, with anything up to a half a dozen notable streaming services available to consumers, Japan’s music industry is beginning its transition to digital.
As for Spotify’s next move in Asia: we reported back in March that it was casting its eye on India, and the country could well be its next target. However, we understand that there’s been no solid commitment on that from Spotify yet. Nevertheless, given the slow speed at which it has expanded in Asia, we don’t expect to see a move into India — or other new markets in Asia, for that matter — for some time.
Spotify first entered Asia in 2013 and it is currently available in five countries in the continent: Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.