Apple plans to offer ‘Apple Music’ service in Korea

August 31, 2015
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

By Kim Yoo-chul

Apple plans to offer its popular “Apple Music” services to iPhone and iPad users in Korea, officials at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Friday.

“Officials at Apple Korea contacted the culture ministry and major copyright associations in Korea recently to discuss key issues in order to enter the local music-streaming market,” an official said.

Another official said Apple had discussed starting it music services in Korea with the Korea Music Copyright Association.

“Apple has a plan not only for music content-downloading services, but also for Apple Music in Korea,” the official said. “If such a plan is realized, this will be huge.”

Officials at Apple Korea were unavailable for comment.

Apple Music, which launched June 30, costs $9.99 a month for individual access to 30 million songs as well as select playlists and a live radio station.

The Apple plan comes at a time when demand for digital music-streaming content is solid in Korea, officials said.

By 2013, the value of the local digital music-streaming market was estimated at some 1.05 trillion won, with music-streaming services taking up 46 percent of the total, according to recent reports by the Korea Creative Content Agency.

While Apple Music is available in more than 100 countries, Apple initially excluded Korea because it had failed to reach a consensus with local music copyright associations.

“Given Apple’s strengths in music content, Apple Music will be successful in Korea as the country has a lot of Apple fanboys,” said the official, mentioning the popularity of Apple devices, from smartwatches and iPhones to iPads.

Assuming 10 percent of Apple’s iTune users are converted into paying customers, Apple will beat out reigning music streaming champ Spotify, which launched nearly a decade ago.

Streaming is gaining momentum among younger customers whose general preferences, whether related to cars or music, skew more toward sharing and renting than ownership, said analysts and experts.

Apple has been urged to secure music content that is popular and familiar to Koreans, meaning it needs the support of major entertainment companies such as SM Entertainment, YG and JYP, all of which own their own music content rights, officials said.

“Apple’s plan to advance the local music streaming market won’t be welcomed by existing music content providers,” an industry official said. “Google earlier agreed with major music copyright bodies in Korea; however, Google’s music service is yet to take off as local music content providers are still reluctant to let the web giant open up its music content.”