South Korea’s digital music service market is preparing for a seismic change in spring. The music industry is showing signs of a massive shift, which is creating jitters for major music service providers including Melon, Genie and Bugs. Some say that consumers’ exodus from digital music service will accelerate.
According to the music service industry on Wednesday, the number of subscribers of SK Telecom’s new music service FLO and Naver's VIBE have respectively reached No. 3 and 4 in the music streaming business, fasting catching up with Melon and Genie, No. 1 and 2 service providers.
Starting next month, SK Telecom will give monthly discounts to its subscribers, a benefit that was extended only to MelOn users. Naver has also taken measures to suspend user access to both VIBE and Naver Music starting April. The action is seen as advance measures to integrate the two services.
“Temporary customer attrition is likely to return. But we are somewhat nervous towards the change,” admitted an employee at a major music streaming service.
More competitors mean more tension, but this means a wider selection for consumers to opt for user-friendly service. What is noticeable about the user interface of FLO and VIBE is that the real-time music ranking chart, which has been fixed as the main screen for music streaming service for more than a decade, has been removed from the home screen. The upper part of the home is occupied by user customized play lists such as “Today’s FLO” and “Wednesday VIBE.”
The new services appear to cater to users’ experience with curated service of Apple Music and YouTube Premium. FLO is adaptive of Apple Music in that it asks new subscribers to choose their favorite genre and artist.
Typical Korean service features are still present, however. The second tab is filled with music charts dominated by teenage idol groups. There is potential, however, to lure middle and senior age users, who have searched for free playlists on YouTube, to paid music service.