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Spotify joins Japan streaming music fray with karaoke lyrics

The world's second-largest music market is worth over $2.5 billion. But Spotify will still have to fight for a big piece of the pie.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Spotify launched its music-streaming service in Japan, joining a party already bustling with competitors Apple Music and Line Music.

Japan is the second-biggest music market in the world. At last count it was worth over $2.6 billion, a little more than half the US market. Digital music, however, hasn't taken hold and an estimated 80 percent of music there is still bought on CD.

By contrast, streaming overtook CD sales last year in the US.

Spotify set up a Tokyo office last year and has made deals with record labels to get Japanese music on its service. The service's Japanese website says it has 40 million songs, as well as playlists tailored for Japanese streamers.

Japanese customers will also have access to song lyrics on mobile devices, perfect for the karaoke-mad country. In a statement, the company said the mobile lyrics were a "global Spotify debut."

The service will incorporate Sony's PlayStation Music and work on PS3 and PS4 consoles.

Spotify, which has over 100 million active users worldwide, will compete with Apple Music and Line Music, a service from the company behind Japan's most popular messaging app, Line Messenger.

Both Apple Music and Line Music launched in Japan last year, though they're both subscription only.

Spotify in Japan is currently invitation only. It will be free with ads but also has a paid, ad-free option.

First published September 29, 2:17 a.m. PT

Update September 29 at 3:31 p.m.: Adds information about PlayStation Music.