Universal Music Japan

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Albert Flores

Universal Music LLC (ユニバーサル ミュージック合同会社), often referred to as just Universal Music Japan or UMJ, is a Japanese subsidiary of the Universal Music Group founded in 1990. It is the largest subsidiary for a foreign company in the country regarding music distribution. The company is responsible for marketing and distribution in Japan for Japanese releases under Universal.

In 2021, Universal Japan CEO and President Naoshi Fujikura was included on Billboard's International Power Players list.

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History

Early years

The company was founded as PolyGram Co., Ltd. (in 1990 with Koike Kazuhiko serving as president and CEO. In 1999, the company was restructured and renamed as Universal Music Co., Ltd.

2009-2013: Renaming to Universal Music LLC

In 2009, the company was renamed as Universal Music LLC. Kazuhiko stepped down as CEO and Keiichi Ishizaka became CEO and president of the company.

2013-2014: Restructure following EMI purchase

In 2011, EMI agreed to sell its recorded music operations to Universal Music Group for £1. 2 billion ($1. +more9 billion) and its music publishing operations to a Sony-led consortium for $2. 2 billion. Among the other companies that had competed for the recorded music business was Warner Music Group which was reported to have made a $2 billion bid. Universal Music Group completed their acquisition of EMI on September 28, 2012. In 2012, Ishizaka became CEO of EMI Music Japan while Universal Japan was scheduled to hold a corporate swap in response of the merger. EMI Music Japan officially was absorbed into Universal Japan, became defunct as a company with EMI Records Japan as a successor to the EMI Music Japan label. Nine months after the merger, Ishizaka stepped down from his position of CEO from Universal Japan, and became a non-executive chairman. His successor, Naoshi Fujikura was appointed in 2014. In April 2014, Universal Japan was once again restructured. Many of its labels were rebranded and split multiple times, including EMI Records Japan which de-merged into two sublabels EMI Records and Virgin Records of which the latter rebranded as EMI R and then merged with Delicious Deli Records to form Virgin Music.

2015-present: New business model, push for streaming and worldwide distribution

In December 2015, Fujikura announced that Universal Japan "is a new business" and that the company would adopt a new business model to strengthen business. These changes were effective as of January 1, 2016. +more A new label, Universal-W was established in December 2015 with Japanese company Warlock.

In August 2016, Radwimps released the soundtrack for the 2016 Japanese animated film Your Name. The album was a commercial success in Japan and in a rare feat, charted in the United States in 2017. +more In December of the same year, Universal Japan acquired , a music management agency (founded in 1992), and made it a fully-owned subsidiary; as a result, the latter's "Augusta Records" label became an affiliated label of Universal Japan.

In 2017, the company announced it would relocate from Minato, Tokyo to the Jingumae Tower Building in Shibuya, Tokyo. The relocation took place from September 15, 2018 to October 9. +more In December 2017, Universal Japan announced they suspended the contract of Hilcrhyme member DJ Katsu following his arrest of possession of marijuana. He subsequently left the group following his arrest and the group lost their recording contract.

In June 2018, Universal Japan announced an exclusive license agreement with Disney Music Group.

In 2019, Universal Japan suspended the sales of Junnosuke Taguchi's discography and removed his releases from digital stores following his arrest of possession of marijuana.

In 2020, Universal launched the Virgin Music Label and Artist Services. The service provides artists with global solutions and was launched in many Universal subsidiaries, including Universal Japan.

In 2021, Yoshimoto Music signed a distribution deal with Universal Japan for future releases. In July 2021, CEO Fujikura was listed on Billboard's International Power Players list. +more In an interview with Billboard Japan, Fujikura shared about his measures on increasing streaming revenue and strategies to have Universal Japan artists chart overseas. Universal Japan has since released previous releases of former and current artists under their labels worldwide digitally, including Hikaru Utada, Crystal Kay, Radwimps, Mrs. Green Apple, Che'Nelle and Ai.

In 2022, Universal Japan CEO Fujikura was listed on Billboard's International Power Players list for a second year in a row. Fujikura became the first Japanese executive to appear on the list three times, including his first recognition in 2019. +more In an interview, Fujikura discussed plans for creating new marketplaces in Japan and developing them overseas, particularly in the United States.

Labels

Current labels

Universal J * Zen Music * Universal Jazz * Universal Sigma * Lighthouse Music * Universal D * EMI Records * Universal International * Universal Gear * Virgin Music * USM Japan * Augusta Records * +morea. _UM-CLJZ)'>Universal Classics * UM & Brands * Def Jam Recordings * Mercury Tokyo.

Former labels

Delicious Deli Records * EMI Records Japan * EMI Music Japan * Island Records * Def Jam Japan * EMI R * Nayutawave Records * Polydor Records * Virgin Records * Universal Victor * Nippon Phonogram * Mercury Music Entertainment * Kitty Records * Zero-A * Far Eastern Tribe Records * Universal-W

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