Merlin, the global digital rights agency for more than 20,000 independent labels, has opened a Japanese office. The new office will be based in the Ebisu district of central Tokyo and headed by Haji Taniguchi, who was the former President of Avex Music Publishing Inc. Taniguchi remain as one of the most experienced music executives in the Japanese and Asian music business.
As Japan continues to be the world’s second largest recorded music market, it is also gradually developing its digital entertainment market. At the moment, the subscription market remains low and generates less than 10% of total revenues according to a recent analysis provided by Sony at Music Matters – but was up 85% year-on-year. It’s very likely that it will continue to grow following Spotify’s invite-only launch in Japan.
The agency has also appointed Kaoruko Hill to focus on leading the label and its service relations department that will help local independents understand Merlin’s licensing deals if they should be participating.
“Over recent years, we have also seen a marked increase in members from the Asian territories, while in 2015 Merlin signed its first ever pan-Asian specific deal with KKBOX.
“The Japanese market will be of paramount importance to our international membership. For these reasons, the decision to open a Japanese office as an initial step into this region makes strong strategic sense. That we have an executive as experienced as Haji to guide our membership through the idiosyncrasies of the Asian market, and to bring more local labels and distributors under the Merlin umbrella is a perfect combination.” said Charles Caldas, Merlin.
“It is a hugely exciting time to be joining Merlin. Japan is the world’s second largest music market, with a vibrant independent sector and strong appetite for the artists that Merlin’s members represent,” said Haji Taniguchi.
“Coupled with this is the fact that the Asian market is in the midst of significant transition, with new streaming and subscription services launching and gaining traction. Having a permanent office in Japan will offer new opportunities to boost international trade, and for independent labels to grow and extend their digital business,” he added.
On behalf of these members, Merlin has global licences in place with the world’s leading new-generation music services, including Deezer, Google Play, KKBOX, Pandora, Soundcloud, Spotify and YouTube RED.
The organisation has existing offices in London and New York, with a head office in Amsterdam.