The New York Times has an interesting feature today on the Japanese music market, exploring why CDs still account for 85% of sales in the country, and questioning whether that attachment to physical is storing up problems for the near future. It notes the 17% drop in CD sales in Japan last year, as well as the fall in digital revenues caused by the plummeting ringtones market. And it also suggests that Japanese rightsholders remain overly cautious about streaming, citing Spotify’s protracted licensing negotiations. “When the decision makers finally feel that the heat is intense enough that they have to do something different, they will,” Spotify’s chief content officer Ken Parks tells the NYT. “I think we are approaching that moment in Japan.” But are we? There’s a sense that the challenges of a transition from CDs directly to streaming may stump some senior figures in the Japanese music industry. “A substantial amount of senior management is worried about what happens on their watch, but not necessarily worried about what happens after that,” as former Sony Music Japan president Shigeo Maruyama puts it.

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