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Streaming music keeps the party going in Southeast Asia – with a little help from brands


Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

Or maybe, that’s stream another ad from the server, baby.

At least, that’s how music is being paid for these days. Somewhere, back in 1999, when Napster was a new word and “mp3” was on the tip of everybody’s tongue, I remember thinking, “the can of worms is open and we’ll never get those little wigglers back under a lid.”

And I was right.

The music is dead; long live the music

Ever since that time, the music business has been wrestling – sometimes quite embarrassingly – to try and stave off the steady flow of illegal downloads and the corresponding decline in album sales.  

But, along the way a few innovations have kept the music alive. Services like iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify have probably done more for the music business than anything else in recent years. Certainly, those outlets have garnered more sales than the recording industry has recouped through its attempts to prosecute individual downloaders over the years.

Despite occasional grumblings about compensation on the part of artists and producers, the digital streaming music market is driving content consumption across Southeast Asia and advertising-based services are climbing the charts.

Effective Measure’s latest poll of key Southeast Asia markets reveals that while consumption of streaming music services is accelerating, music fans are still reluctant to spend their money, suggesting that ad supported services are the future of music consumption.

Video saved the radio star?

Research conducted by Effective Measure found that YouTube is the dominant listening destination. (Even in spite of the crap quality of the audio on the site!)

In the survey, Southeast Asian users revealed that they are equally as likely to listen to music on YouTube or an app that streams music from YouTube (78 per cent) as they are to listen to music on FM radio (70 per cent).

While the majority of respondents say that they are not prepared to pay for music, those users currently spending more than 20 minutes a day listening to their own choice of music, are more than twice as likely to pay $30 per year for a streaming music service that promises no ads, great sound quality, a usable app, and a vast library of tunes to choose from.

“Digital music streaming services continue to transform the fortunes of the digital content industry with a variety of business models taking shape through Asia. As digital music revenues are set to outstrip physical music sales by 2016 globally, Southeast Asia is a fertile ground for innovation and market diversity across geographic markets,” said Effective Measure, Founder James Robertson,

The (added) value of streaming music services

According to the data, currently 17 per cent of those surveyed have an active subscription to a streaming music service that they pay for.

The Effective Measure survey also found that digital music users place additional emphasis on sound quality (42 per cent) as the most important feature in a streaming music service, followed by the ability to enjoy music without ads (25 per cent), and a wide selection of music (21 per cent).

“Southeast Asia’s high speed network connectivity and escalating mobile penetration makes the music streaming model seamless to use for consumers and provides a ripe platform for brands to engage with. Being able to monitor advertising engagement across these new platforms is crucial,” added Robertson.

Don’t stop the music…

Streaming music services by no means fix everything wrong with the music industry. But it stabilizes the pricing model based on consumer demand. A key cause of the decline of physical CD sales, one that music industry pundits tend to omit (as they place the blame squarely on the peer-to-peer sharing and the mp3 format) is that they willfully gouged the global consumer throughout the 1990s.

Who can forget paying $20 a pop for that new album that had only one good song on it, as was the case in the last decade of the 20th century? It happened. I was there.

Music is great. Just like entrepreneurs, artists deserve to get paid for their intellectual property. No doubt about it. But the vehicle through which music is monetised is changing forever. And those worms are never going back in the can. It seems that Southeast Asia is the latest region to catch on to the streaming music craze.

Welcome to the party, baby.