Spotify Is Staffing Up In Japan -- Is a Launch Nearing?

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A young woman listening to music on a smartphone.

It has over 70 million users worldwide, and none of them are in the world's second-largest (CD-loving) music market.

If the number of job openings is any indication, Spotify is gaining momentum for a launch in Japan. The jobs page at Spotify's website currently lists 12 job openings in six business segments at its Tokyo office: business development, business operations, finance, marketing and PR, product development and sales.

Spotify has made no secret of its plans to launch in Japan. It has posted job openings for Japan for a few years, but the number of postings and the types suggest Spotify isn't far from finally launching in the country. Early job openings were in finance and business development. Now Spotify is hiring for positions such as editorial and programming, the people who build playlists and help decide what artists and songs to highlight on the platform. Spotify had no comment.

Japan will be an uphill battle for streaming services. Physical formats are still popular with consumers. Revenue from CDs, LPs and other physical audio and physical products declined just 2 percent last year, according to figures published by the Recording Industry Association of Japan. Year-end digital figures have not been released, but through the third quarter digital accounted for 11.9 percent of industry revenues in spite of a 106 percent increase year over year.

A few other services have already worked through Japan's notoriously difficult licensing process and launched services. LINE, a popular messaging app whose 200 million-plus users are concentrated in Japan, launched in June. Apple Music launched in the country last year. The local service AWA launched in July. Google launched in Japan in September. Sony's Music Unlimited was available in Japan but shut down and resurfaced last year as a Spotify-powered PlayStation Music. There is one country where PlayStation Music is not available, however:  Japan.