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Line launches Line Music app in Japan, where the CD still dominates music sales

Cute, fun, and incredibly diverse social messaging app Line has launched Line Music, its latest spin-off service, in Japan. While mobile music streaming apps are commonplace elsewhere on the world, they are less popular in Japan, where 80-percent of all music sold still comes on CD.

Line Music is available for Android and iOS smartphones, and currently has a library containing at least 1.5 million songs, but this is expected to increase to around 30 million by 2016. To celebrate the launch, Line Music will be free to use for two months, up until August 9, after which a subscription model will come into effect.

Related: Line launches mobile payment system Line Pay

There are two levels. A basic, 20-hours of streaming music plan costs about $5 per month, while a premium unlimited plan is around $10. Currently, Line Music only works through the dedicated app, but a browser-based version is in development, and could be ready as soon as next month.

Naturally, like Line’s other services, the music app is tightly integrated with Line messaging. Friends and groups of friends can connect inside the app, ready to share tracks and playlists, plus there’s the ability to send music directly using a message.

Line Music is only for Japanese customers, but Line isn’t about to ignore the rest of the world. At the end of last year, it purchased MixRadio from Microsoft, and promised to improve the service over time. MixRadio is Line’s way into the international streaming music world, while Line Music — thanks to its ties with local music labels — will likely remain a Japanese exclusive.

Internationally, Line Music has considerable competition, not least from the just-announced Apple Music service. In Japan, where Apple Music hasn’t been confirmed and others such as Spotify are put off by the country’s complex music rights, it stands almost alone. However, according to reports, the market isn’t growing, and subscription-based streaming services made just under $41,000 in 2014. Line has more than 58 million local subscribers, so it’s well placed to change all that.