Universal Music Poaches a Top Spotify Executive In Japan

Universal Music Japan

One of Spotify Japan’s leading executives has jumped ship for Universal Music. Japan is the second-largest market in the world for recorded music.

Ichiro Tamaki joins Universal Music Japan starting February 15th. He will be responsible for heading Digital Strategy, data analytics, and platform partnerships for Universal Music Japan. Tamaki formerly served as Spotify Japan’s General Manager & President since 2016, when the service launched in the country.

Before his tenure at Spotify Japan, Tamaki served as a VP at Amazon. There he oversaw driving and expanding the Kindle digital content business in Japan.

Tamaki will become a core member of Universal Music Japan’s executive team. He will work to oversee the firm’s Data and Analytics and Platform Partnerships teams. He will also help lead UMJ’s digital and streaming strategy for Japan. Tamaki will be based in Tokyo and will report to Naoshi Fujikura, CEO of UMJ.

“We are committed to delivering the value of music for Japanese music fans and expanding the universe of opportunities for our artists. We strongly believe that Mr. Tamaki’s leadership will help us ensure and accelerate long-term digital growth while helping our artist talent to reach new audiences around the world,” Fujikura said in a statement.

Universal Music Japan handles BTS Japanese-language releases in a partnership with Big Hit Entertainment. All non-Japanese releases go through Sony and The Orchard.

For Spotify, the loss could have a significant impact. In an interview in 2016, the then-Spotify exec described a passion for both technology and tapping into music culture. “While Spotify is a company with a technology backbone, we’re also passionately dedicated to deepening our respect and understanding of music culture,” Fujikura said. 

Now, that tech+music big thinking comes to UMG.

Japan isn’t the only place Universal is poaching employees, either. In the last two years, Dave Rocco and Mike Biggane are two US Spotify execs joining UMG after leaving Spotify.