Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Sony Music Entertainment Japan

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¥162 billion


Sony Music Entertainment Japan

1968; 49 years ago (1968) (as CBS/Sony Records Inc.)

Rokubancho, Chiyoda, Tokyo. Japan

Key people
Naoki Kitagawa, CEO and Representative to the RIAJ Masao Morita, Chairman

Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. (株式会社ソニー・ミュージックエンタテインメント, Kabushiki gaisha Sonī Myūjikku Entateinmento), often abbreviated as SMEJ or simply SME, and also known as Sony Music Japan for short, is Sony's music arm in Japan. SMEJ is directly owned by Sony Corporation and independent from the United States-based Sony Music Entertainment due to its strength in the Japanese music industry. Its subsidiaries including the anime production enterprise, Aniplex, which was established in January 1997 as a joint-venture between Sony Music Entertainment Japan and Sony Pictures Entertainment, but which in 2001 became a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan. It was prominent in the early to mid '90s producing and licensing music for anime such as Roujin Z from acclaimed manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo and Capcom's Street Fighter anime series.


Until March 2007, Sony Music Japan also had its own North American sublabel, Tofu Records. Releases of Sony Music Japan now appear on Columbia Records and/or Epic Records in North America.

Sony does not have the rights to Columbia name and trademark in Japan, so releases under Columbia Records from another country appears on Sony Records in Japan, but retains the usage of the "walking eye" logo. The Columbia name and trademark is controlled by Nippon Columbia, which was, in fact, the licensee for the American Columbia Records up until 1968.

With Sony Corporation of America's buyout of Bertelsmann's stake in Sony BMG, Sony Music Entertainment Japan stepped in to acquire outstanding shares of BMG Music Japan from Sony BMG, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Japan.


Sony Music Entertainment Japan was officially incorporated in March 1968 as a Tokyo-based 50/50 joint venture between Sony Corporation and U.S. conglomerate CBS to distribute the latter's music releases in Japan. The company was incorporated as CBS/Sony Records and with Sony co-founder Akio Morita as president.

Norio Ohga was part of the management team from the formation of the company and served as president and representative director since April 1970. In 1972, when CBS/Sony was generating robust profits, Ohga was named chairman and at the same time gained further responsibility and influence within Sony. He would continue to work for the music company one morning a week. In 1980 Toshio Ozawa succeeded Ohga as president.

In 1983 the company was renamed CBS/Sony Group.

Sony acquires CBS Records in 1988

In January 1988, after more than a year of negotiations, Sony acquired CBS Records and the 50% of CBS/Sony Group that it did not already own.

In March 1988, four wholly owned subsidiaries were folded into CBS/Sony Group: CBS/Sony Inc., Epic/Sony Records Inc., CBS/Sony Records Inc. and Sony Video Software International.

The company was renamed Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), Inc.

Shugo Matsuo was named new president in January 1992, replacing Toshio Ozawa, who was appointed to the post of chairman.

Overall sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1991 were 83.8 billion yen with a pretax profit of 9.2 billion yen.

In June 1996, Ryokichi Kunugi became new president. Shugo Matsuo was named chairman.

Shigeo Maruyama was appointed to the new post of CEO on October 1, 1997 and replaced Kunugi as president in February 1998.

As of 2007, Naoki Kitagawa is the current CEO of the group.

Increased competition

The company's leading role on the Japanese market was increasingly challenged by labels such as Avex (where SMEJ formerly owned 5 percent of shares). Net sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1997 were down 10% to 103 billion yen, while net income fell 41% to 7.7 billion yen. The market share at that time was less than 18%. In August 1997, Dreams Come True, until that point Sony Music Entertainment Japan's best-selling act, signed a worldwide multi-album deal with competing U.S. label Virgin Records America.

Since then it was said that SMEJ ceded to Avex's challenge, but SMEJ bounced back and regained leadership from its indie rival until 2012. SMEJ netted 22.4 billion yen for 1H 2012 and 14.3% of the market, second behind Avex (24.95 B yen, 15.9%).


  • Aniplex
  • Antinos Records was launched in 1994 with Sony Music director Shigeo Maruyama as its president. The first releases on August 21 were a mini-album by indie group Confusion and singles by the groups Aniss, Neverending Story, and Ginji Itoh.
  • Ariola Japan
  • BMG Music Japan
  • DefSTAR Records - founded in 1997 as a Warner Music sub label. Acquired in 2000.
  • Epic Records Japan
  • Ki/oon Music - launched as Ki/oon Sony Records on April 1, 1992
  • Fitz Beat
  • Haunted Records
  • Ki/oon Records2
  • Siren Song
  • Trefort
  • OKeh was launched in 1994 and headed by Sony Music deputy president Hiroshi Inagaki.
  • SME Records
  • Sony Music Records
  • Sony Records
  • gr8! records (read "G-R-eight") - founded April 2003
  • N46Div
  • Niagara Records
  • VVV Records
  • Sony Music Associated Records
  • onenation - joint venture with LDH
  • tributelink
  • Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Records
  • Sony Music House
  • Village Music
  • Music Ray'n
  • Roc Nation Japan (a Japanese distribution of Jay-Z's label)
  • Sony Music Marketing - Oversees distribution of labels which have a distribution contract with SMEJ. Formerly known as Sony Music Distribution until 2014.
  • Defunct

  • Dohb Discs (1994-2000)
  • Studioseven Recordings (2006-2010, merged into gr8! records)
  • Tofu Records (US Sublabel, 2003-2007)
  • Key people

  • Norio Ohga
  • Akio Morita
  • Toshio Ozawa
  • Shugo Matsuo
  • Ryokichi Kunugi
  • Shigeo Maruyama
  • Takashi Yoshida† (died 2010, transferred to Warner Music before death.)
  • Hiroshi Inagaki (now on Avex Group)
  • Naoki Kitagawa
  • Kazutomo Enomoto
  • Yaz Noya (Tofu Records founder)
  • References

    Sony Music Entertainment Japan Wikipedia

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