Summits Yellow

Line Launches Music Streaming Service in Japan

Tim Maytom

LINEMessaging app operator Line has launched a music streaming service in its home market of Japan, marking the first major firm to take advantage of the untapped audience for mobile streaming in the world's second-largest music market.

It's clear that streaming music services are having something of a moment, with Apple announcing its Apple Music service at WWDC last week, and Spotify raising over $500m (£323m) in capital to prepare for this new challenger for its crown.

Line's new app, Line Music, will be available to Android and iOS users and will offer unlimited access to a library of over 1.5m songs for a monthly fee of ¥1,000 (£5.23), or 20 hours of listening for half that.

With 58m registered domestic users, Line is Japan's largest social network, and existing users will be offered two months of free membership to Line Music, a move that will likely speed adoption of the service.

Japan's music market is large, but still remarkably reliant on physical discs, with CDs still accounting for 80 per cent of music sales and digital sales actually dropping over the past five years, from a peak in 2009 of around ¥124bn to ¥43bn in 2014.

Complex rights issues have made it hard for foreign companies to break into Japan's music streaming business, meaning that Line has a massive opportunity to establish a large presence before Spotify or Apple Music can compete. Last year, only ¥5m was made from subscription-based mobile music streaming services, indicating just how much of a gap in the Japanese market there is to fill.