MediaCorp vs Spotify in Singapore's music streaming battle arena

By Chris Reed

Spotify has finally come to Singapore! The world renowned streaming music playlist/personalised radio brand has landed after years of developing its brand in America and Europe and building up a loyal following. The main stumbling block for all these music/video content players is rights.

Asia is infamous for illegal downloading. The 240 million people who live in Indonesia for example only bought 11 million CDs last year compared to the 6 million illegal downloads they do a day at a conservative estimate. Singapore is actually the world capital of illegal downloading per capita fuelled by the obsession with the latest tech gadgets, high speed internet and multiple music playing devices and desire for a freebie.

Brands like the record company backed music video brand Vevo who recently came to Singapore to present made the point that none of the people in the audience could actually watch the on line channels due to piracy concerns. They certainly wouldn’t be going anywhere near Indonesia in a hurry.

Itunes only recently launched in Singapore and Singapore’s Singtel has tried to launch a music serving brand before with minimum success. MeRadio, the MediaCorp backed streaming music playlist channel is the closest Singapore has to its own Spotify. It was probably launched knowing that Spotify was coming into the market and were worried about the loss of market share of their radio stations.

Well if you were forced to listen to Gold 90 FM or Class 95 and were given the choice of choosing your own playlist as Spotify gives you then yes MediaCorp should be worried. That’s what headphones are for if the generic office radio station is switched to one of those brands or the female friendly but still stuck in the 80’s new station Kiss.

MeRadio lacks enough western music for many people’s tastes, it’s dominated by Chinese/Korean artists despite promising “all music genres”. Spotfiy also have a content problem but they at least have influential groups like Mumford and Sons and but both have no Linkin Park or Shinedown songs for example and MeRadio only has Lady Ga Ga’s “Poker face” and “Bad romance” but nothing more.

Me’s strapline is “attack of the music revolution” which is overstating it slightly as streaming stations where you can pick out your own choice of music started years ago with brands like itunes and Spotify have been doing it for years just not in Asia. Now they are and they offer a real alternative for the most popular acts in the world, which tend to be western not Chinese/Korea (with the odd “gangnam” exception).  MeRadio need to beef up this area of their content, have they heard their own stations? How much Chinese/Korea pop do they play? None! Its all 80’s, 90’s soft classic. Taxi drivers give me no choice but to listen to it!

Both brands will soon have the powerhouse brand of Google to contend with too. They are soon to launch their own streaming music service, All Access. Whether it comes to Singapore in the first wave is open to debate. Google have realised that with 20 million people choosing to use a music streaming service they can see that this is where the music listening market is going. Bye bye radio!

The cool thing about Spotify is that music brands are using it to test new music, deliver live content and let the fans experience music in a way that they choose when they want it. Why listen to a radio station which may or may not play the latest song by your favourite artist when you can do that on Spotfiy and you’re in control. If you want to listen to 30 Seconds to Mars latest non-stop you can without paying a dollar if you like the ads or a nominal amount if you want it to be ad free.

There are other competing brands like Live365 which give you thousands of radio stations of every genre from hard rock to non-stop Elvis. It’s a great way to listen to new music as although you choose the genre you don’t choose the playlist. New music is what drives anyone passionate about music.

The downside to both Spotify and MeRadio is that your chosen playlist is unlikely to contain new music although Spotify allow you to be told when your favourite artist has a new track out. However that is not the same as bringing you something brand new from someone you have never heard of before. Live365 allows you to do that as does Vevo.

In the UK BBC Radio 1 (the youthful, cutting edge new music brand with 10million+ listeners) is now influenced by what is on YouTube and Vevo and not by what is playing in clubs and bought in shops. Social media is influencing what record companies put out and what radio stations that still do have listeners (who tend to be the followers not the early adopters and influencers) play.

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