Spotify announces that, after years of tedious negotiations and waiting, it will finally roll out its popular music streaming service in Japan.
The company has had an office in Tokyo for more than a year and a half, but lengthy negotiations with record labels and the music industry made it that rivals such as Rakuten, Line and Apple were the first to launch similar services ahead of Spotify.
The company is finally ready to join the pack and it offers two services: one ad-supported free variant and a paid-for subscription that asks for a monthly fee of 980 yen ($9.70).
Japan is one of the largest global music markets, with sales estimated to reach $3 billion per annum, making it the second biggest market after the United States. An important difference resides in the medium local customers prefer to get their music from, as Japan is one of the few places where CDs are selling like hot cakes.
Streaming services see this as an opportunity, and Spotify could gain a welcome power boost from entering Japan ahead of the company's purported public offering in 2017.
Earlier in September, Spotify passed the 40 million paying customers milestone, and the company aims to bolster that number by attracting Japanese subscribers. On Aug. 25, the venture said that it counted 39 million subscribers. This means that the company's momentum is adding subscribers at a rate of 1 million per month, leaving rivals such as Apple Music and Tidal behind.
The service could catch on like wildfire in Japan, as it is the only venture that provides a free-tier option for its users. This might explain why it took the company so long to finalize negotiations with record labels in the country.
"[Spotify will bring 2] million artists around the world to Japan," says Daniel Ek, Spotify's CEO. He goes on to add that the service will work vice-versa, as well, making beloved Japanese artists available to the rest of the world.
Spotify is not at its first landing on the Asian continent.
In March, the enterprise rolled out its services in Indonesia, the fourth most populated country in the world. Back in 2013, Spotify started running in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Since 2014, the service is also available in the Philippines.
Rumors surfaced about Spotify's plans to focus on India as the next big Asian market, but insiders are pointing out that the company is merely analyzing this as an option. Google recently deployed its Google Play Music service in India, and its efforts could be a good guide for Spotify's upcoming developments in the region.