Warner’s New Hostess

Japan’s most successful independent foreign music distributor, Hostess Entertainment, announced a new partnership April 21 that will expand its influence beyond Japan.

Hostess is joining up with Warner Music to distribute artists it represents in Japan to Warner’s Asian market, including Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The first albums to be distributed through the new network will be Radiohead’s The King of Limbs and Adele’s 21.

Warner’s role in the partnership will vary from client to client in the region, but will mostly involve marketing and distribution. The territories covered will also vary depending on which of Hostess’ licensed labels are involved. Almost two years ago, Hostess took over the distribution of the Beggars Group in Japan from Warner, and will now distribute the UK umbrella label’s releases through Warner elsewhere in Asia.

In related news, Hostess no longer distributes releases by another UK umbrella label, Cooperative Music, in Japan.

Elsewhere in the world Coop is distributed by Universal Music Group International, and when Hostess’s contract expired in December, Universal Music in Japan took over distribution.

UMJ then set up an import-only label called Pachinko Records to sell Coop releases in Japan. Hostess works with Sony Music as its distributor in Japan, and according to Hostess founder and CEO, Andrew Lazonby, UMGI wanted Hostess to switch all its Japan releases to Universal’s distribution system. Hostess decided to stay with Sony.