|Founded||1968(as CBS/Sony Records Inc.)|
|Headquarters||Rokubancho, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan|
|Naoki Kitagawa, CEO and Representative to the RIAJ|
Masao Morita, Chairman
|Products||Music and entertainment|
Number of employees
Epic Records Japan
Sony Music Records
Sony Music Associated Records
Sony Music Artists
Sony Music Publishing
Music On! TV
Peanuts Worldwide (39%)
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 Japanese animation production enterprise, Aniplex, which was established in September 1995 as a joint-venture between Sony Music Entertainment Japan and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan, 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 animated series such as Roujin Z from acclaimed Japanese comic artist Katsuhiro Otomo and Capcom's Street Fighter animated series.
Sony does not have the trademark rights to the Columbia name 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, even though relations were officially severed as far back as World War II. Nippon Columbia also does not have direct relations with the British Columbia Graphophone Company (an EMI subsidiary), so the licensee for the British Columbia Graphophone Company was actually Toshiba Musical Industries.
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.
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 the new president. Shugo Matsuo was named chairman.
As of 2007, Naoki Kitagawa is the current CEO of the group.
Sony Music Entertainment announced the launch of its first video game publishing label, Unties, in October 2017. Unties will publish indie games for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The name was selected by Sony as representative of helping to "unleash" the power of independent video game development and "unshackle" such developers from the traditional video game publishing process.
Unties’ first release was Tiny Metal, a turn-based tactics video game developed by Area 35, for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC. The game was first premiered at PAX West Indie Megabooth. Published Azure Reflections, a side-scrolling bullet hell developed by Souvenir Circ., on May 15 2018 for the PS4. Published Touhou Gensou Wanderers Reloaded, a roguelike rpg developed by Aqua Style, for the PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Published Necrosphere, a platformer developed by Cat Nigiri, for the PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and PSVita. Published Midnight Sanctuary, a VR/3D Novel game developed by CAVYHOUSE, for the PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC. Published Tokyo Dark, a visual novel mystery adventure hybrid developed by Cherrymochi, for the PC. Published Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers, an arcade racing game developed by Pocket, for the Nintendo Switch on August 30 2018. Scheduled to publish on Last Standard, a 3d action game developed by I From Japan, intended for PC. Scheduled to publish The Good Life, a daily-life rpg developed by White Owls Inc., for the PS4 and PC. Scheduled to publish Merkava Avalanche, a 3d cavalry warfare action game developed by WinterCrownWorks, for the PC. Scheduled to publish Olija, an action adventure game developed by Skeleton Crew Studio, for the PC. Scheduled to publish Deemo Reborn, a music rhythm and urban fantasy game developed by Taiwanese studio Rayak, for the PS4 with PSVR support. Scheduled to publish Giraffe and Anika, a 3d adventure game developed by Atelier Mimina, for the PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC. Scheduled to publish 3rd Eye, a 2d horror exploration game, based on the Touhou franchise, for the PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Scheduled to publish Gensokyo Defenders, a tower-defense game developed by Neetpia, for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
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%).
Labels and sublabels
- 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 – Formerly known as BMG Japan until October 2009.
- 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
- OKeh was launched in 1994 and headed by Sony Music deputy president Hiroshi Inagaki.
- SME Records
- Sony Music Records
- Sony Music Associated Records
- Sony Music House
- Village Music
- Music Ray'n
- Sony Music Marketing – Oversees distribution of labels which have a distribution contract with SMEJ. Formerly known as Sony Music Distribution until 2014.
- Sacra Music
- Kalafina (SME RECORDS)
- ClariS (SME RECORDS)
- LiSA (Aniplex)
- EGOIST (Sony Music Records)
- Tomihisa Kako (SME RECORDS)
- Kana Hanazawa (Aniplex)
- Luna Haruna (SME RECORDS)
- ELISA (SME RECORDS)
- GARNiDELiA (SME RECORDS)
- SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] (SME RECORDS)
- Mashiro Ayano (Ariola Japan)
- TrySail (Aniplex)
- PENGUIN RESEARCH (SME RECORDS)
- Tsukicro (SME RECORDS)
- Soma Saito
- Dohb Discs (1994–2000)
- Studioseven Recordings (2006–2010, merged into gr8! records)
- Tofu Records (US Sublabel, 2003–2007)
- 72 (pronounced as Natsu) (S.M. Japan/Sony Music Associated)
- 9nine (pronounced as Nine)
- AKB48 (2006–2008)
- Aki Toyosaki
- An Cafe
- Angela Aki
- Aoi Eir
- Aqua Timez
- Asian Kung-Fu Generation
- Automatic Loveletter
- Ayahi Takagaki
- Beat Crusaders
- Boom Boom Satellites
- The Brilliant Green
- Chara (1990–2004, 2012–present)
- Chiaki Kuriyama
- Cinder Road
- Cool Joke
- Crystal Kay (1999–2011)
- Dancing Dolls
- Debbie Gibson
- Denki Groove
- Dir En Grey
- Eric Martin
- Fight Like Apes
- Galileo Galilei
- gr8 Jani!
- Hajime Chitose
- Haruka Tomatsu
- Harumi Tsuyuzaki
- Home Made Kazoku
- I Am Ghost
- I WiSH
- Ikimono Gakari
- Jasmine (Japanese singer)
- Joe Inoue
- Jay Sean
- JUDY AND MARY
- Kana Hanazawa
- Kana Nishino
- Ken Hirai
- Kotaro Oshio
- Kung Faux
- Kuroneko Chelsea
- Led Zepagain
- Little by Little
- Ling Tosite Sigure
- Loick Essien
- LONG SHOT PARTY
- Luna Haruna
- Mai Hoshimura
- MAN WITH A MISSION
- Masahiko Kondō
- Masakazu Morita
- Mayu Watanabe (AKB48)
- Meisa Kuroki
- Miho Fukuhara
- Mika Nakashima
- Miliyah Kato
- Minako Kotobuki
- Minami Kuribayashi
- Miyu Nagase
- Naniwa Express
- Nami Tamaki
- Nana Kitade
- Natsume Mito
- Nico Touches the Walls
- no3b (pronounced as No Sleeves) (2008–2013)
- Nothing's Carved in Stone
- Nozomi Sasaki
- Obi Tenaka
- Orange Range
- Porno Graffitti
- Puffy AmiYumi
- Rei Yasuda
- Rie fu
- Rina Chinen
- ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D
- Sayaka Kanda
- School Food Punishment
- Secret (2011–2013)
- Seiko Matsuda
- Siam Shade
- Shinichi Osawa
- Shion Tsuji
- Shoko Nakagawa
- Soul'd Out
- Stance Punks
- Subsonic Factor
- SunSet Swish
- Supercell (band)
- Tamio Okuda
- The Boss (大国男児)
- The Cro-Magnons
- the GazettE
- Tomoko Kawase
- Tomohisa Sako
- Toshinobu Kubota
- The Six Dragons
- U-ka saegusa (1997–2002)
- Uri Nakayama
- Utada Hikaru
- Wonder Girls
- X Japan
- Yellow Generation
- Yoshida Brothers
- Yuna Ito
- Yuya Matsushita
- 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)
- Avex Group (formerly an affiliate of Sony Music, also the 2nd biggest record label in Japan.)
- Universal Music Japan
- Warner Music Japan
- EMI Music Japan
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- "Cat Nigiri". www.catnigiri.com. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- "The Midnight Sanctuary: Guide Side -Home-". www.carpefulgur.com. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- "Cherrymochi". www.tokyodark.com. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- "Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers". Metacritic. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
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- "UNTIES Games for everyone". UNTIES Games for everyone. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
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- "Skeleton Crew Studio - Work". Skeleton Crew Studio. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
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- "3rd eye". 3rd eye. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Neetpia. "Gensokyo Defenders". neetpia.sakura.ne.jp. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
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- Virgin's Dreams Come True. In: Billboard, August 20, 1997.
- Kana Nishino | CNN Travel. Cnngo.com (2009-12-11). Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
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