Hostess Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) have reached an agreement on a services and support-based strategic partnership that will see the various entities of SMEJ provide a broad range of backing to Hostess and its artists in Japan.

The deal will see Sony Music Distribution Inc. handle the nationwide physical distribution and back-end logistical administration for new Hostess releases, with other SMEJ entities locking in for nationwide promotion, with a view to utilizing Japanese network TV and commercial tie-in support.

Formed in 2000, Hostess is a music management, marketing, sales and promotion company for international labels and artists in Japan.

"The feeling that there's a strong potential for success by the two companies working together, fusing our different strengths, was mutual," Andrew Lazonby, founder of Hostess, tells Billboard.biz.

"We are very excited to be working with Hostess and the artists it represents in Japan," said Naoki Kitagawa, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), in a statement. "We will continue to strive to develop and expand international music in the Japanese marketplace."

Hostess artist releases expected to benefit from this new alliance include the Cribs, Arctic Monkeys, Enter Shikari, Sonic Youth, Andrew Bird, Simian Mobile Disco, Dirty Projectors and Dinosaur Jr.

Hostess remains an independent entity and in control of all aspects of its operation.

The outfit has grown despite the continued loss of market share by international repertoire in Japan. According to Hostess, the company saw a 25% spike in gross sales and a 5% rise in pre-tax profit in 2008. It claims 3% of the overall market for international repertoire in Japan and 5% of the import CD market for last year. Its long term label partners include Domino Recording Co, V2/Cooperative Music and the PIAS Entertainment Group.

Hostess previously had a catalog and new release deal, signed February 2008, with BMG Japan for distribution, sales and broadcast media promotion support. The deal expired on March 31, 2009.

BMG Japan is a separate entity that was acquired by Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) from Sony BMG following the de-merger last year. Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) reports directly into Sony Corp. in Japan, while Sony Music Entertainment is a subsidiary of Sony Corp. of America.

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