This week marked the launch of Apple Music in two different countries. Apple launched its streaming music service in Israel on the third of August and then today the South Korean music aficionados were brought into the Apple Music fold.
As Apple rolls out its services in different geographies, it will have to effectively balance the content so that it appeals to the local consumers.
Today’s launch in South Korea has had some mixed reactions from the nation. There is a belief that Apple Music does not have the large collection of South Korean popular music.
Three main companies largely control the local music distribution scene in South Korea. These are LOEN’s Melon, KT and Bugs with LOEN controlling almost 57% of South Korean streaming music services.
According to Korea Herald, Although Apple has 30 million songs — triple Melon’s 10 million songs — it has fewer K-pop songs because it failed to negotiate with local music firms aside from the big three of S.M. Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP.
This is because Apple’s policy, which gives 70 percent of sale prices, or discounted prices, to the creators of songs, did not appeal to many music creators.
Given that Apple Music provides a platform to create a global brand for an artist, this impediment to Apple may be less severe moving forward.
“Apple Music in Korea is not only a win for local consumers as the subscription prices are on par with leading local services, but also a win for local artists as the royalty rates are far bigger and far better than those offered by any of the local services,” – Bernie Cho, DFSB Collective
It is also important to note that Spotify or Tidal does not have a local streaming music offering in this market. You can still get a Spotify Premium subscription and use VPN to stream it in South Korea, but as it stands Apple will be the first major global music streaming service brand in this market.
Apple released its music service in Israel with a Mizrahi playlist featuring Eyal Golan, Moshe Peretz and Sarit Hadad, as well as an Israeli pop playlist featuring the likes of Ivri Lider, Shlomo Artzi and Marina Maximilian this Wednesday.
Starting this week, customers can get a 3-month free subscription to Apple’s music.
Although Tidal has a presence here, but Apple will be the first global streaming music brand in Israel since Pandora and Spotify are not yet officially launched in this market.
This provides Apple with a first mover advantage in a market where there is still a lot of online content piracy when it comes to music and films. It will be interesting to see how Apple positions itself in this market to grow subscriptions.
With these new two countries added to its portfolio, Apple now provides its music streaming services in 115 countries. This expansion comes at a time when Apple has redesigned its Apple Music features in the upcoming iOS 10, making it more user friendly and also adding unique content such as Bloomberg Radio.
As it expands into new countries, it will be important to see Apple can sign up popular local talent for exclusive Apple Music releases. This exclusivity streaming music deal could be a key first mover advantage in these geographies for it to establish its brand and create momentum.
With the popularity of its iPhone SE models in many of these countries and its continued investment in broadening its service offerings, Apple is certainly poised to become a key brand in both these countries.