Sony Launches Native High-res Music Streaming Service in Japan

Sony Music has publicly launched its on-demand, high resolution music streaming service called Mora Qualitas in Japan.

The service, originally announced in December 2018, allows subscribers to stream FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files at a standard of 24-bit/96kHz (Hi-Resolution) and 16-bit/44.1kHz (CD quality).

The service has been created through a partnership between Sony Music Entertainment Japan (SMEJ) and Napster International.

The official launch closely follows the arrival Amazon Music HD in Japan, with the move by SMEJ making it the first major label to directly rival Spotify and Amazon Music with its own music streaming service in the country.

Mora Qualitas is launched in partnership with Rhapsody International, whose ‘Powered by Napster’ platform provides SMEJ’s service with media streaming and download infrastructure, applications, personalization, recommendations, rights management, customer billing and royalty calculation capabilities.

Subscribers will be able to access music from Universal Music Japan, Warner Music Japan, Victor Entertainment and more in addition to Sony Music Entertainment Japan’s stable of global artists.

SMEJ’s challenge will be convincing customers in Japan to sign up to the new service. Priced at 1,980 Yen a month (approximately $18.20), a subscription to Mora Qualitas is significantly more expensive than Spotify, which launched in Japan in 2016.

An Amazon Prime membership in Japan, which includes music streaming access to 2 million songs, costs 500 Yen ($4.60) a month. An Amazon Music HD subscription, which offers 50 million lossless HD songs, costs 1,980 yen and 1,780 yen ($16.30) per month for non Amazon Prime members and existing prime members respectively.

According to the IFPI’s Global Music Report 2019, music revenue in Japan saw an increase of 3.4% in 2018. This increase is owed to streaming, which saw 32.6% growth over the year, driven by local pop acts such as Hikaru Utada and Yumi Matsutoya among others.

SMEJ Senior Vice President Shigeki Tanaka says that the company is “in tune with what [its] customers want from their streaming audio provider” in Japan, with the new music streaming service building on the success of SMEJ’s original high res download service Mora.