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#mavericksindigital: Asian digital music scene on the rise

Last week the Asia music scene converged in Singapore for its annual Music Matters event. It’s the only event in Asia that gathers the entire music and entertainment industry in one place and has become a gateway for artists and brands alike who are looking to break into Asia, the world’s most populated region.

There are a variety of factors that have put Asia on a strong trajectory for becoming a massive hotbed for the music industry – and as some may argue, the future of music. As alluded above, 4.4 of the 7 billion people on this planet are here. And it’s a very young population. Take Philippines where 35 per cent are between ages 0-14. And among the youth here the ambition index ranks super high. Because in their lifetimes, emerging markets have already produced some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people. Young Asians therefore see nothing as impossible.

But none more than anything has contributed to the growth of music in Asia than the mobile device. The region has been undergoing a mobile revolution. Roughly 50 per cent of the world’s mobile connections are now in Asia Pacific, with some 1.6 billion unique subscribers. This means a strong proportion are accessing the Internet for the first time via their mobile devices, and their leisure habits are being formed on mobile as a result.

According to comScore South East Asia over indexes on entertainment sites. The hours spent on entertainment sites per visitor in Vietnam are 5.3 compared to the global average of 3.5. YouTube is the top entertainment site in all SEA markets and around 78 per cent of people are using YouTube to actually stream their music.

To combat YouTube’s dominance, we’ve seen a slew of digital music platforms entering Asia the past 4 years, with the below being the most prominent.

7digital (2011): The London-based digital music provider expanded services into Asia where they are eyeing carrier billing payment systems that would allow users to buy music through their operator.

Google Play (2011): Google is banking off of fact that in-app purchases in Asia is at a much higher rate than other regions and they are able to serve up recommended music-related products within games and apps in a very targeted way.

iTunes (2012): Apple finally brought the iTunes Store in 12 Asian countries in 2012 equipped with its full music catalog including more than 20 million songs covering local and global stars alike.

Deezer (2012): Online music subscription service Deezer first rolled out in Thailand in 2012 then followed by Singapore and Malaysia. It has partnered up with local mobile carriers to make its music service more available in these markets.

Guvera (2013): Taking into account South East Asia’s increasing smartphone penetration and its huge and growing population of connected millennials and thriving local music industry, US-based Guvera expands into SEA.

Spotify (2013): Spotify has been the latest, but possibly the most successful and fastest growing platform to enter Asia. Given the higher adoption of mobile devices over desktop, Spotify favors SEA as one of its more dynamic and fast growing regions globally

A 2013 report by Effective Measure found that the majority of respondents in SEA were still not prepared to pay for their music services. But those who spend more than 20 minutes a day listening to music are more than twice as likely to pay for streaming music. They also found that music users place great sound quality (42 per cent) as the most important feature in streaming music, followed by no ads (25 per cent) and a wide selection of music (21 per cent).

The future prospects of music in Asia, particularly digital music platforms and streaming services are strong. The combination of a massive population, a youthful and ambitious generation and a mobile-first community will help fuel the music scene here.

Andy Radovic

Andy Radovic is the APAC Client Partner at Essence Digital, a GroupM company. He is a strategic digital marketer with 13+ years experience working in the digital media space across a variety of agencies, spanning stints in the U.S., Japan, Korea, and now Singapore. Before Essence, he was working for Maxus Asia Pacific, part of the GroupM network, the world’s largest media investment management organisation, and media communications and planning arm of parent company WPP. At Maxus, Andy led regional digital duties for Asia Pacific with a focus on building out the Maxus digital product offering across Asia Pacific focusing on search, social, mobile, digital analytics and e-commerce.