Indie licensing agency Merlin has appointed former Spotify and Apple exec Akira Nomoto as the general manager of Merlin Japan. He was most recently director of licensing and label relations at Spotify Japan, and will work alongside Kaoruko Hill, who has been promoted to head of member services and operations for Merlin Japan.

“The greatest opportunity for Merlin’s Japanese members lies in having the ability to get a direct insight into the global development of the digital market, with the benefit of Merlin’s global expertise and experience,” Nomoto told Music Ally.

“A recent hot topic for Japan is China. We have unique licences in place with China’s five main music streaming services, which is a really significant market for our Japanese members. We’re also developing revenues in new markets like Russia, India and the Middle East. For independent labels, the combination of licensing key services and visibility on data from those markets brings plenty of new business opportunities.”

Nomoto also told us about how the Japanese domestic market is developing digitally. “Streaming is showing strong growth, but it’s still slower than the recordings business was expecting. At this stage, the 20-29 age group in urban areas (primarily Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka) are the key audiences for the format,” he said. “There are a few reasons for this slow growth, but the main reason is that it takes time to educate consumers and the industry about the benefits of this new technology. The next step is to broaden the audience for music streaming, in terms of both age group and location. Different services have their own audience sweet spots and we want to enable our members to engage with the widest, most relevant audience on each platform.”

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