Universal Music Acquires Office Augusta, Japan’s ‘Full Stack’ Music Company

Utada Hikaru signed by Universal Music Japan scored the two biggest-selling albums in the market of 2016 according to Grainge.

Vivendi-owned Universal Music Group [UMG] boosted the global market share with a significant acquisition in Japan. The world’s second biggest recorded music territory saw the Vivendi-owned UMG bought Office Augusta’s Tokyo-based, in a deal which comes into effect on 6 January 2017.

This action signifies UMG’s first significant acquisition since it swopped on Fame House – a US-based digital marketing agency in May. Known as a ‘full-stack’ music company, Office Augusta operates divisions across artist management, music publishing, records and live promotion.

The company is established in 1992 by Yoshinobu Morikawa representing Japan’s most famous recording artists and songwriters, including Koyo, Masayoshi Yamazaki, Sukimaswitch, COIL, Yuko Araki, Yu Sakai and Motohiro Hata.

The agreement includes the exclusive rights for all of Office Augusta’s master recording and publishing catalogues in the purpose of enhancing its artist roster. Apart from the music rights, UM will also be in-charge of the ‘acceleration of the evolution of UMJ into Japan’s leading full-service music entertainment company, enhancing [our] capabilities in live music, merchandise and fan clubs’. Additionally, Office Augusta is also assumed to upstream selected management clients into UMG labels.

“In partnership with Augusta and its highly talented artists, we look forward to delivering exciting new music and emotive experiences to music fans”, said Naoshi Fujikura, President and CEO of UMJ.

“I have always had the greatest respect for Mr. Morikawa and Augusta’s artists’ achievements as pioneers within the music industry, and strongly believe this partnership will bring greater prosperity to UMG and the music industry as a whole.”

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group said: “At UMG, we pride ourselves on our culture of artist development, so we are thrilled to join forces with Office Augusta, whose ambition mirrors our own in creating lasting career development and new commercial opportunities for recording artists and songwriters.”

“Japan is one of the most important and dynamic music markets in the world, and with Naoshi’s leadership combined with our exciting new partnership with Mr. Morikawa, I’m confident that we will continue to evolve Universal Music Japan into the preeminent home for artists.”

Utada Hikaru and RADWIMPS produced by Universal Music Japan scored the two biggest-selling albums in the market of 2016 according to Grainge. With UMG, Office Augusta will probably transfer its short-term rights licensing – the traditional Japanese model – to long-term copyright administration, which allows better continuous exploitation of its catalogue. This ongoing development and exploitation of the streaming gives prospects to the industry in Japan.

Japan’s recorded music market was worth 113.45bn Yen (1.12bn) in the beginning of this year [reports according to RIAJ]. Its digital revenues is made up of 22.6% of this figure that is 25.66 bn Yen, of which subscription streaming generated 9.34 bn Yen ($92.5m).  

According to RIAJ stats, Japan’s total audio recorded music market was worth 113.45bn Yen ($1.12bn) in the first six months of this year.

Of that figure, 25.66bn Yen ($254m), or 22.6%, was made up of digital revenues, of which subscription streaming generated just 9.34bn Yen ($92.5m). And since the launch of Spotify in Japan in September, the subscription figure jumped 85% year-on-year, which was then worth only 8.2% of total revenues.

Office Augusta manages recorded music and master rights for nearly 1,800 tracks, while handling artist management for a roster of 19 artists and a live music promotions business that includes the popular Augusta Camp music festival.Its Augusta Publishing company represents the rights more than 1,200 songs, while its Seven Dials operation operates fan club and merch businesses.

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