Rakuten, Napster Partner To Support Digital Streaming Music In Japan

Music streaming site Napster and Japan's e-commerce company Rakuten on Thursday announced plans to partner and take their combined services into the Japanese market.

The collaboration will give Seattle-based Rhapsody's Napster the support needed to power the playback of songs and curated playlists -- and give music lovers access to 20 million tracks from global independent music labels by the fall of 2017 -- as part of its ongoing commitment to support a variety of artists through the Rakuten Music service, which competes with services like Spotify.

"We’re seeing the emergence of a new era of on-demand streaming in Japan," said Brian Ringer, Napster’s chief technology officer, in a statement emailed to Search Marketing Daily. 

Streaming services are beginning to gain momentum In Japan, although the majority of music listeners are still using CD media and not streaming. Rhapsody late last year also struck a similar deal with iHeartMedia in the U.S.

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Recommendation and search engines have been known to fuel growth in the music industry. Last year, overall music revenue grew by 11% to more than $12 billion -- the highest jump since 2009, according to Mary Meeker's Internet Trends report presented on Wednesday.

The report notes that Spotify equals about 20% of the global music industry streaming revenue, with data gathered from a combination of Spotify and the IFPI 2017 Global Music Report.

Spotify users listen to 41 artists per week, and more than 40% owe that amount to a recommendation or search engine supported by data and algorithms. 

The Financial Times estimates that at about $3 billion in sales annually, Japan is the world's second-largest music market, only just behind the U.S. 

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