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Last year proved to be a pivotal one for streaming music in Japan. According to a report by the Recording Industry Association of Japan, 2018 saw plays via platforms such as YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify overtake digital downloads.

This would be a great piece of evidence for futurists trying to argue that the Japanese music market is actually catching up to where most other nations are today. But mucking that up is the total lack of info regarding physical sales, a still-major slice of the proverbial pie. And recent changes only underline how important they are, even as different developments point toward other directions.

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