So What’s the Music Business Like in Asia These Days?

Every May, I head to a conference in Singapore called Music Matters, a gathering of all the movers-and-shakers from the music industry in Australasia. Why? Because that market is HUGE and quite a bit different from what we experience in North America and the UK.  Gotta keep on top of things, you know?

Sylvain Delange is the head of a company called Believe Digital. He talks a look at where things stand in that part of the world.

In the current digital landscape, Asia’s music market is still mainly driven by telecom operators and their mobile personalization business. Ring Tones, Ringback Tones (RBT) and similar services are still the main source of revenues for labels; a business model that we know is dying. This however, is extremely good news for the music industry, and it’s been a long time coming.

With very few exceptions mobile services are decreasing in all territories, in some cases incredibly fast. Thailand saw revenues drop by nearly 50% in 2014. But the good news is this drop confirms the global trend which is bringing the industry back to growth in many countries. The other good news is that telecom operators finally go back to what they really are: data and voice providers, leaving music in the hands of people who actually care about music and know how listeners enjoy it.

The only exception is Indonesia where the RBT sector grew by 129%. But the growth doesn’t contradict the overall trend as it is mainly the result of a market returning to a normal level after the 2012 legal breakdown on RBT. The future of the Indonesian music business is now actually blooming on services like iTunes, Deezer, Guvera and Rdio.

Malaysia and the Philippines saw a very strong increase with regards to the streaming model, which has compensated the drop on RBT services. With download and streaming, Philippines saw the overall market drive up by 94%, while Malaysia saw its streaming revenue grow by 147%.

Except in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, digital is now the main source of revenue for labels in all Asian countries, some for the first time ever, like the Philippines where Digital grew enough to compensate for the decrease of Physical.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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