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Sony Japan finally embraces iTunes, as Sony Entertainment Network chief steps down

By | Published on Thursday 8 November 2012

Sony Music

The Sony record company in Japan has finally licensed its music to Apple’s iTunes, according to The Nikkei, after years of the electronics and entertainment giant refusing to play ball with the market-leading download store in its home territory.

While the global Sony Music company gave iTunes permission to sell its sound recordings years ago, Sony Music Japan, which operates autonomously from the US-headquartered Sony Music Entertainment, has generally seen Apple’s move into the music space as a threat. Partly because Sony’s entertainment units are more closely aligned to the Sony electronics businesses in the conglom’s domestic market, and partly because the Japanese music industry has held on to the CD as a preferred format longer than any of its global counterparts.

The arrival of the Sony catalogue on iTunes in Japan, documented by media and on the social networks but so far not officially announced, is pretty significant therefore, even if the major’s music will be priced somewhat higher on the download store than in other markets. Reports also say that Sony tracks will be available via iTunes Japan without digital rights management attached; and while the dropping of DRM on music downloads is pretty standard in most territories now, it remains another area that still bothers Japanese record label execs.

As previously reported, Sony Music Japan did make a move in Apple’s direction earlier this year by launching an app that made it possible to access some of its music via the IT giant’s devices, while Sony Network Entertainment launched its Music Unlimited streaming platform in the Japanese market in July as well, albeit on Sony, Android and Windows, but not iOS, gadgets.

Talking of which, the Sony exec who has led the Sony Entertainment Network – the online content platform that incorporates the PlayStation Network, Music UnLimited and a video-on-demand set-up – will step down at the end of the year, it has been announced.

Tim Schaaff was headhunted from Apple in 2005 to build Sony’s online content business. According to Reuters, he will stay on as an external director of the conglom, but not have an executive role. Sony’s gaming division chief Andrew House will oversee the Sony Entertainment Network in the interim.

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