The biggest moment for streaming music in Japan this year came via a handwritten letter. In late June, Kenta Matsumoto of pop-punk trio Wanima shared a note on Twitter announcing that his band's entire catalog would be uploaded to streaming music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
This year has seen some of Japan's biggest digital holdouts finally accept (or at least surrender to) the fact that streaming has established itself in the Japanese market. While the rest of the world gave itself over to algorithmic listening and playlists built around the concept of "chill," the Japanese resisted initially. After several false starts and muted debuts, though, J-pop has finally come around and every week a new artist makes a big deal about uploading their discography to these platforms. In recent months, the likes of Namie Amuro, Mr. Children and Bump of Chicken have made splashy streaming debuts.
Wanima isn't an established act going on several decades in the biz, though. The trio is a contemporary marquee name, a group coming from a corner of the music community where it doesn't need to lean too hard into digital. Pop-punk fans still buy CDs and have purchased enough to turn Wanima into a relative force.