Asia Music Study: Streaming Thriving On Mobile, Mini-Subscriptions - Variety
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Asia Music Study: Streaming Thriving On Mobile, Mini-Subscriptions - Variety

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By Patrick Frater
Asia Bureau Chief

Smart phone usage is key to music listeners in parts of East Asia, but only a minority of users are committed subscribers to streaming services. That apparent contradiction may explain the rise of mini-subscriptions in the region.

“Some 81% of music listeners in Malaysia use smartphones as their go-to music listening devices in a typical month, yet only 31% of music streamers in Malaysia pay for a streaming subscription,” says new report from consultancy firm Luminate. The firm’s latest Music 360 Study examines music consumption habits and preferences in a selection of Asia-Pacific markets, including South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia, but excluding China, India, Singapore and Australia. 

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Platforms such as Spotify are addressing APAC consumers’ new music appetite by offering one-time mobile plans (“premium mini subscriptions”) on a daily or weekly basis that grant temporary access and targeted premium features (no advertisements, song downloads for offline listening, high quality audio, etc.) from its full catalog of audio content.

This mirrors attempts by video streamers in less wealthy parts of Southeast Asia to offer non-recurring “sachet pricing,” billing through telecoms operators and deeply discounted recurring subscriptions plans.

While mini subscriptions can be considered as an introduction to the benefits of paid subscription, many East Asian users are already adept at using streaming for music discovery. One in two APAC music listeners use social media websites or apps to discover new music and artists, the Luminate report says.

Video is especially important for music discovery in the less developed parts of the region. Music listeners in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines are nearly two times more likely than U.S. listeners to use short video clip sites and apps such as TikTok for their music discovery.

That said, the region also boasts significant locally-based music streaming platforms, such as Kakao Entertainment’s Melon in South Korea. Resso, a hybrid music listening and sharing application is used in Indonesia by 56% of those aware of the platform and supports personalized broadcasts of a user’s music habits to others.

Social sharing could lead to cross-border music discovery. Analyzing the top 10,000 songs in the Asian countries covered by the report, Luminate says that Indonesia’s top songs closely match those in Malaysia.
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