USEN Delivers Low Cost Piped Music Wirelessly to Thousands of Stores Running On AWS


USEN Corporation, a comprehensive service provider for retailers in the digital transformation era, created USEN IoT Platform to deliver a one-stop enterprise-oriented wireless communication solution, using IoT devices controlled over the cloud. When selecting a music streaming platform for IoT Platform's AI-based background music (BGM) service, the company chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) to handle intense access loads and organize 5 million songs for hundreds of thousands of stores in minutes.


The biggest benefit of using AWS is that we could launch the service at a cost that made business sense, and scale it as needed. As technologies such as 5G and AI evolve, the ability to build systems with the highest specification at any given time is also a massive asset.”

Hirochika Nomura
Head of IoT Platform Business Promotion Division, Business Development Office, USEN Corporation

Developing a user-appropriate music platform

USEN started in 1961 and grew its business providing a background music service (BGM) for stores. Around 800,000 restaurants, beauty salons, and other customers across Japan currently enjoy the service, and 50,000 new businesses sign up every year. A core strength of USEN’s subscription-based B2B model is its ability to handle everything from hardware and software development to infrastructure construction and content procurement.

USEN’s new U MUSIC concept is an AI-based BGM streaming service using wireless communication instead of cables and satellites. The system consists of a dedicated set-top Wi-Fi box providing in-store communication via an L2 wireless internet network (MVNO), optimized for business use. A tablet for remote control and a built-in BGM playback platform complete the set-up, eliminating the need for stores to add a new physical connection.

“Internet-based background music services were becoming costly for stores as they had to install optical lines and pay separate provider fees, which adds costs and is disruptive,” says Hirochika Nomura, Head of IoT Platform Business Promotion Division, Business Development Office, USEN. “U MUSIC provides wireless Internet communication from a set-top box which eliminates construction work, while making it easier and cheaper for stores to get BGM services and digital-ready communications environments.”

The music streaming platform uses an independently developed AI engine to build playlists from 5 million tracks offered by USEN, and it chooses songs to suit the atmosphere of the store, time of day, and weather. The system can connect to in-store cameras to analyze customer gender ratios and other metrics to switch songs appropriately.

Since going live in 2020, the one-stop solution powering U MUSIC—USEN IoT Platform—has offered a variety of services using IoT and wireless technology to help stores engage digitally transform, including communications, cash register transactions, payments, store background music, and more.

AI-powered channel editing

USEN developed its music streaming platform on the cloud. It could procure infrastructure swiftly, expand resource use flexibly, incur low upfront costs, be resilient against operational loads, and access a rich array of cloud services. It selected AWS for its impressive deployment record, extensive documentation, engineers with AWS development expertise, and development support structures, such as coworking spaces.

According to Nomura, “the serverless architecture of AWS Lambda and managed services of Amazon DynamoDB were major factors in our choice. We create BGM playlists for hundreds of thousands of stores each hour, which adds intensive loads for analytics processing and database access. AWS Lambda provides instantaneous volume processing during these times but costs nothing when not in use. And Amazon DynamoDB handles heavy access loads at rapid speeds, so we really see the benefits.”

Development of U MUSIC and its music streaming platform began in September 2019, and the system went live a year later. To complete the project, USEN had to simultaneously develop back-end systems (monitoring, shipping, and logistics) for USEN IoT Platform, hardware, and applications.

“Cloud development provides the flexibility to respond quickly to minor configuration changes. It also has fewer limitations than an on-premises environment, so we were able to build a system that met our needs in a shorter time,” explains Nomura.

The music streaming platform also uses Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) to collect channel information created by a USEN team, the millions of song data on music management servers, weather information, and store visitor attributes, collating everything on Amazon DynamoDB. An AI engine uses this data to generates playlists for each store every hour, in about five minutes. Music then streams from a data center server based on these playlists. Automating processes that were manually performed by editing teams in the past enables instant delivery of BGM tailored for customers.

Reducing upfront costs while gaining speed for development

With most of U MUSIC’s 30,000-plus users being newly-opened restaurants and similar businesses, USEN is focusing its expansion plans on new customers. The music streaming platform has operated reliably since day one, and the AWS managed services have minimized operational workloads. Clear benefits include the efficient processing and automated error recovery achieved by integrating Amazon SQS with AWS Lambda.

“The AWS platform is highly resistant to load fluctuations, so we rarely have to worry about increasing or decreasing resources,” says Yutaka Ito, head of network design, USEN. “Not having to manage our infrastructure means we can spend time adding features. We also rely on AWS for security and availability, which reduces internal workloads. And because we deployed the system without any upfront costs, it was around 60 million yen cheaper than using an on-premises solution. Having flexibility to add the latest resources as we grow and technology evolves is a huge advantage.”

“We could launch the service at a cost that made business sense and scale it as needed,” adds Nomura. “We were able to procure essential resources quickly, so development was months faster than on-premises systems. As technologies such as 5G and AI evolve, the ability to build systems with the highest specification at any given time is also a massive asset.”

Building IoT Platform around AWS services

USEN plans to expand the functions of U MUSIC to provide services to large chain stores and grow its customer base. The company will also build an AWS-based platform to support various new IoT Platform services, including wireless communications (U AIR), IP phones (U PHONE), and surveillance cameras and analytics (U EYES). With the U EYES Cloud Premium service currently under development, USEN is exploring Amazon Kinesis Video Streams, an AWS video delivery service.

USEN is also looking to solve store management challenges as the 5G wireless era approaches. According to Nomura, “We look forward to working with AWS to deliver a world of multi-access edge computing where 5G devices and the cloud connect directly.”

Hirochika Nomura

Hirochika Nomura
Head of IoT Platform Business Promotion Division, Business Development Office, USEN Corporation

Yutaka Ito

Yutaka Ito
Head of Network Design Division, Business Development Office, USEN Corporation

About USEN Corporation

  • Founded: June 1, 1961
  • Established: December 1, 2017 (music delivery and energy businesses split off from USEN Corporation)
  • Paid-in Capital: JPY 10,000,000. (as of August 31, 2020)
  • Business Description: IoT Platform, music streaming, energy

Benefits of AWS

  • Deliver U MUSIC, a BGM music service for businesses, over mobile networks
  • Organize 5 million BGM songs for hundreds of thousands of stores every hour
  • Achieve stable operation with minimal operational effort

AWS Services Used

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a serverless, event-driven compute service that lets you run code for virtually any type of application or backend service without provisioning or managing servers.

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Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB is a fully managed, serverless, key-value NoSQL database designed to run high-performance applications at any scale.

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Amazon SQS

Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) is a fully managed message queuing service that enables you to decouple and scale microservices, distributed systems, and serverless applications.

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Amazon API Gateway

Amazon API Gateway is a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale.

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