RecoChoku has dominated mobile music in Japan, but will foreign players change that?



We’ve heard rumors that Swedish music streaming service Spotify is preparing to make its debut in the Japanese market. But so far, there has been no official announcement. Meanwhile here in Japan, the service that’s getting most of the mobile music attention is RecoChoku Best. RecoChoku has operated various music entertainment services since way back in 2001, mainly downloadable ringtones for feature phones.

RecoChoku Best was launched in March of this year and provides over one million songs (mostly J-Pop) for mobile users for a monthly fee of 980 yen. With ‘Playing Your Memories’ as its theme concept, the app features songs by popular Japanese artists going as far back as the 1960s. Users can search for a particular song or choose from over 350 existing playlists.

For many Japanese people who frequently commute to places by train, the app has a caching feature to save your favorites (up to 1600 songs) so music can be enjoyed even where there is no mobile reception. RecoChoku also has a feature to play a digest of playlist and artists, as well as suggesting related artists, thus allowing users to discover new music. You can also listen to some songs along with lyrics, and I’m sure many karaoke fans would find this useful.

In a recent interview with Japanese entertainment portal Urepia, the developers of RecoChoku Best explained a little more about the service:

The difference between foreign music streaming services and RecoChoku is that we provide a context for listening to music. We have years of experince and knowledge about what Japanese people prefer when listening to music. Users can feel familiarity with the playlists that we offer on RecoChoku.

RecoChoku is promoting itself through collaborations with brands such as Coca-Cola Japan. In May, the two companies began a campaign where an exclusive playlist is made availble to the users when by scanning QR codes on coke bottles. Users can win a free trial of RecoChoku for up to 29 days.

There is a 14-day trial period available for anyone who wants to try out RecoChoku on iOS or on Android. The company has plans to release a web version sometime this summer.

RecoChoku recently won an award at MM Soken 2013, an event which aims to accelerate innovation in the tech industry. But while it has excelled in Japan so far, it will be interesting to see if its place in the market changes as foreign competitors begin to sneak in.