The major record labels have always chaffed at the idea of tech companies like Spotify, Apple, Google and Amazon being in control of the distribution of their music, especially at the currently Wall Street valuations that those companies possess. That said, they’ve been unsuccessful in developing their own digital distribution product in the past, which makes Sony Music’s launch of its new Mora Qualitas streaming service in Japan all the more interesting. The new company is a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment Japan (SMEJ) and Rhapsody International.
There’s more going on here than meets the eye though. Mora Qualitas is based on Rhapsody’s Napster platform and offers high-resolution with lossless FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) streaming at CD quality 44.1kHz/16bit up to 96kHz/24bit. As a point of reference, Spotify launched here a few years ago, but hasn’t made a big dent in the market so far. In fact, streaming really isn’t that big in Japan yet, as most consumers actually prefer to still buy CDs and the physical market is still thriving.
That’s why a high-resolution product might actually be able to break through, since Japanese consumers do value quality sound more so than consumers in other countries to some extent, although many fans buy CDs as a sign of support for their favorite artists though, so it’s likely that they’d not be interested in Mora Qualitas.
More than 70% of the music revenue generated in Japan still comes from CDs, so any improvement in the streaming revenue would currently be a boost for the industry. The price will be around $17.50 per month, but that’s not too much more than purchasing a CD per month.
There’s no word yet on just how deep the catalog might be, but if it’s only limited to Sony artists then there might not be enough variety to get consumers to subscribe. The next question might be, will Mora Qualitas launch in other countries as well?