Spotify Planning Launches in Italy, Poland and (Reportedly) Japan: What Are the Challenges?

From Billboard:

Spotify is planning launches in Italy and Poland, judging from job postings at its web site, and according to a report Friday it’s considering a launch in Japan in early 2013.

The company has recently posted job openings for growth managers in Milan, Italy and Warsaw, Poland, who will be responsible for launching the service and managing long-term user growth in those respective countries. Both positions report to the director of international growth in Berlin.

A report Friday morning at paidContent claims Spotify is considering a launch in Japan around January. A Spotify spokesperson declined to comment.

Given the nature of the market, news that Spotify is eying Japan comes as something of a surprise. There may be no other large market that would require more time to develop and more time to educate consumers on the service’s value proposition. One would imagine converting American consumers would be tough enough.

Japan is the world’s second-largest music market, the first in physical sales and a distant second in digital sales behind the U.S. Consumer awareness of subscription services must be brutally low and Spotify would have to build the market almost entirely on its own. Only Sony’s Music Unlimited service, launched in July, operates in the country. Napster Japan, the first subscription music service in the country, shut down in May 2010.

Music Unlimited has a couple strengths in the market: Japan is Sony’s home base and Music Unlimited is primarily a value-added feature for Sony consumer electronics. Those factors allowed Sony to soft-launch Music Unlimited in July whereas another service would likely need to make a larger initial investment.

Continue reading the rest of the story on Billboard