What app do Japanese people use for music?

In recent years, music streaming apps have become increasingly popular in Japan as more people listen to music on their smartphones and other mobile devices. Japan has a vibrant music scene with a range of domestic artists as well as international music that Japanese listeners enjoy. This has created a competitive marketplace for music apps aiming to attract users in Japan.

This article will provide an overview of the major music apps used in Japan, examining their features, content libraries, and factors driving their popularity amongst Japanese users. Understanding the music app landscape in Japan provides insight into Japanese music tastes and streaming habits in one of the largest global music markets.

Brief History of Music Apps in Japan

Japanese music consumers have historically purchased music through physical mediums like records, tapes, and CDs. In the early 2000s, digital music downloads and music subscription services started emerging as alternatives. One of the first and most popular digital music services in Japan was Recochoku, launched in 2002 by a group of Japanese record labels. Recochoku allowed users to download individual songs or ringtones to mobile phones for a fee. At its peak around 2008, Recochoku had over 20 million users and dominated the digital music space in Japan.

The introduction of smartphones and music streaming apps in the late 2000s/early 2010s brought major changes to how Japanese listeners accessed music. Services like Line Music, AWA, and Apple Music emerged, providing unlimited on-demand streaming for a flat monthly fee. This new streaming model quickly gained popularity, especially among younger listeners. According to one report, the Japanese recording industry saw a 72% increase in music streaming revenue between 2013-2017, while CD sales declined. Streaming services have now become the dominant form of music consumption in Japan.

Line Music

Line Music is one of the most popular music streaming apps in Japan. It was launched in 2014 by Line Corporation, the company behind the popular Line messaging app. Line Music has over 30 million songs available and is free to use, supported by ads (Source). Some key features of Line Music include:

– Streaming music both online and offline. Users can download songs to their device to listen when internet access is limited.

– Personalized recommendations based on listening history and preferences.

– Ability to follow other users and see what music they are listening to.

– Music charts showing the top tracks on Line Music.

– Special themed playlists and radio stations curated by Line Music.

– Integration with the Line messaging platform to share and recommend music.

– Support for Android and iOS devices.

Line Music offers a large catalog of both Japanese and international music. It is free, easy to use, and integrated with Line’s popular messaging app. These factors contribute to Line Music’s popularity in Japan.


AWA is a popular music streaming service that originated in Japan in 2015 and has since expanded worldwide (https://www.musicgateway.com/blog/music-distribution/what-is-awa-music). AWA provides access to over 140 million songs from a global catalog of music (https://awa.fm/en/plan/v2/). The service is known for its high-quality audio, curated playlists, and live streaming of concerts and other audio events.

Some key features of AWA include:

  • High-definition audio quality up to 48kHz/24bit.
  • Original editorial playlists curated by music experts.
  • Ability to stream live concerts, DJ sets, talk shows, and other audio content.
  • Lyrics view to follow along with songs.
  • Offline listening for when internet connectivity is limited.

AWA incorporates artificial intelligence to provide personalized recommendations based on listening history and preferences. The service aims to help users discover new music and deepen their connection to their favorite artists and genres (https://guide.awa.fm/hc/en-us/articles/360008005814-What-is-AWA). AWA offers both free, ad-supported and paid premium plans to cater to different types of listeners.

Apple Music

Apple Music has emerged as one of the most popular music streaming services in Japan. According to research, Apple Music and Spotify account for 45.6% of the total music streaming market share in Japan as of 2023 (https://crenk.com/what-are-the-largest-music-streaming-services-in-japan-with-market-share-numbers/).

Apple Music’s popularity can be attributed to the strong presence of Apple devices like the iPhone in the Japanese market. Many Japanese consumers are already embedded in the Apple ecosystem and find Apple Music to be a convenient streaming option.

Additionally, Apple Music was one of the first global music streaming platforms to enter Japan back in 2015. Its early mover advantage in the Japanese market has allowed it to build a robust user base over time. While other platforms like Spotify entered Japan later, Apple had already established itself.

Apple Music has also invested significantly in featuring Japanese music content, making it attractive for local listeners. This includes exclusive partnerships with major J-pop labels and a dedicated Browse section for J-Pop music. Such localization efforts have helped Apple Music gain traction in Japan.

With steady growth and a focus on Japanese consumers’ preferences, Apple Music is positioned as a leading music streaming choice for many in Japan.


Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services worldwide, with over 456 million monthly active users as of 2022 (Statista). However, Spotify launched relatively late in Japan, only becoming available there in September 2016.

Initially, Spotify struggled to gain traction against domestic players like Line Music and AWA. However, Spotify has seen steady growth in Japan. As of 2021, Spotify had about 3.4 million premium subscribers in Japan (Music Business Worldwide). This makes Japan one of Spotify’s top 10 markets globally.

Spotify has invested heavily in the Japanese market, signing licensing deals with major local record labels like Avex and Johnny & Associates. It has also launched special Japan-focused playlists like “Tokyo Super Hits” and offered playlists curated by popular J-pop artists. As Spotify continues to expand its catalog and features tailored to Japanese listeners, it is likely to keep growing in popularity.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music is one of the most popular music streaming apps in Japan. According to a 2020 survey by Statista, YouTube Music had the second largest market share of on-demand music streaming services in Japan at 18.7%, behind only Line Music (Statista).

YouTube Music launched in Japan in 2018 and gained popularity quickly due to YouTube’s strong branding and the ability to stream both music videos and audio tracks. Many popular Japanese artists and labels have official YouTube channels that fans follow. The YouTube Trending Music Charts for Japan also help showcase current popular songs and artists.

For many users in Japan, YouTube Music provides a seamless way to listen to music and transition between music videos and audio. The app also makes it easy to discover new Japanese music recommended based on a user’s listening history and preferences.

Other Notable Apps

In addition to the most popular music apps in Japan, there are several other notable options that have gained popularity:

Recochoku is a music download and streaming service operated by Recochoku Co., Ltd. It was one of the first digital music services in Japan, launched in 2002. While downloads were once the main offering, Recochoku now focuses more on its streaming service. It has over 4.5 million songs available and partnerships with major Japanese record labels. While not as large as services like Line Music and AWA, Recochoku has an extensive catalog of domestic Japanese music.[1]

Amazon Music Unlimited is Amazon’s premium music streaming subscription service, which launched in Japan in 2016. It provides access to over 60 million songs and thousands of expert-programmed playlists and stations. In 2021, Amazon Music Unlimited in Japan surpassed 1 million customers, showing steady growth in recent years. However, it still lags behind leading services like Line Music and Spotify in popularity.[2]

There are also free, ad-supported music apps like Joox and dHits, which allow users to stream music for free. While they have smaller catalogs compared to paid services, the free aspect appeals to some users, especially younger demographics.

Several internet radio apps like radiko and Radio.garden also offer free streaming access to live broadcasts of AM/FM radio stations throughout Japan.

[1] https://www.similarweb.com/top-apps/google/japan/music-audio
[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/1251120/japan-leading-music-applications-by-downloads

Factors Influencing Popularity

There are several key factors that influence the popularity of music streaming apps in Japan, including cultural factors, pricing, catalog size, and more.

Culturally, Japan has a very active domestic music scene and many users prefer apps that cater well to Japanese music. Services like Line Music and AWA emphasize J-pop and Japanese indie music in their catalogs and recommendations. According to a Reddit thread, Spotify’s smaller Japanese music library is one reason it hasn’t caught on as much there (source).

Pricing also affects adoption. Spotify’s premium tier in Japan costs 1,300 yen per month, while Apple Music is just 980 yen. Lower prices have helped give Apple Music an edge (source). Line Music and AWA also have free tiers to attract more casual listeners.

Catalog size plays a role as well. Per a YouTube video, Spotify’s smaller Japanese music catalog compared to competitors has hampered growth there. Services like AWA and Line Music with more domestic content tend to fare better (source).


In summary, the most popular music apps currently used in Japan are Line Music, AWA, Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music. Line Music leads in market share thanks to its early mover advantage in Japan and deep integration with the messaging app Line. AWA and Apple Music have found strong followings thanks to their focus on serving Japanese music fans. Global streaming services Spotify and YouTube Music have also built solid user bases in Japan, though they trail some of the domestic apps.

While each music app has its own strengths and appeals to different user segments, Line Music stands above the rest in terms of overall market share and popularity in Japan. Its local roots, early launch, and seamless integration with Line messaging give it an advantage. However, new services continue to arrive and evolve in Japan’s streaming music market, providing more choices for consumers.

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