June 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Big In Japan: Hottest 8 Music Apps from Land of the Rising Sun

japanese music apps services

Mikiro Enomoto

This is a guest post from our friend Mikiro Enomoto (a.k.a. @miky_e), an influential digital music expert and writer in Japan. This list might be particularly relevant on the heels of news that Japan could soon equal or surpass the United States as the world’s biggest music market.

In this guest post, Mikiro takes us through some music apps and services that are big in Japan.

There are some unique music services in Japan.

1. Groovy

Like a musical version of SNS (Simple Notification Service), Groovy (Android, iOS) uses your favorite music to introduce you to new friends who love the same music.

This music-based social network also sells on-demand streams by issuing $1 tickets that are good for 17 plays.

Groovy is made by DeNA, which runs the very popular social gaming site, Mobage.


KKBOX (Android, iOS, Mac, Windows) is sort of like Turntable.fm. It was already the number one subscription service in Taiwan, and now KDDI, a leading Japanese telephone company, bought KKBOX and is bringing it to Japan.


BeatRobo (screenshot: Evolver.fm)

3. Beatrobo

A sort of social playlist service for music video, BeatRobo (iOS, web; pictured), also available in the U.S., is like a social game with robot avatars — also somewhat along the lines of Turntable.fm, but for videos. It won multiple TechCrunch Japan awards.

[You can design your own robot!]

4. Music Chef

With integration with The Echo Nest [publisher of Evolver.fm], Music Chef (Android, iOS) will be reborn as a music discovery service like [Rdio or] Spotify Radio. Added bonus: plenty of participation from major artists as “music chef.”

[We like this idea too.]

5. Nico Nico

A movie sharing service with non-synchronous chat on the screens, Nico Nico (web) is very communication-intensive, and more popular among older teens than YouTube. A Vocaloid (Miku) culture has grown on it.

And some major service as well…

6. Sony Music Unlimited

Sony Music Unlimited is the top music subscription service in Japan [and it launched in Japan less than a year ago].


Recochoku (screenshot: Recochoku)

7. Recochoku

Recochoku has the second most popular music subscription service in Japan, and the top music download service. Number two is iTunes. Recochoku also runs in another brand “D-Hits”, owned by NTT Docomo, the top telephone company. Docomo sells smartphones with some options including D-Hits, and surpassed one million paid subscribers just 10 months after launching.

8. radiko

With 10 million unique users every month, radiko is somewhat similar to iHeartRadio, in that two thirds of the major AM/FM stations in Japan are stockholders. However, it has no customized radio functions [updated].