Spotify to help combat piracy


By CHONG JINN XIUNG bytz@thestar.com.my

IMAGINE a buffet of over 20 million songs for you to enjoy. Sounds too good to be true?

To many Malaysians this was all but a dream until Spotify launched its popular music-streaming service simultaneously in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore on April 16.

And of the three countries, we are being offered the cheapest rate for the premium service — it costs RM14.90 per month here while it is priced S$9.90 (RM24.30) in Singapore and HK$48 (RM18.80) in Hong Kong.

There is also a free version that’s ad supported but it’s only available on desktop computers. Piracy still remains a big threat to the music industry and Spotify is doing its part to stem it.

“As crazy as it sounds, providing people access to free legal music is really the best way to get them to pay for songs,” says Sriram Krishnan, Spotify’s head of new markets for Asia-Pacific.

The Malaysian who is based in Hong Kong says consumers don’t care whether the music is legal or illegal but all that matters to them is that they have easy access to free music.

“Downloading illegal music is time consuming, the song quality is inferior and the metadata will usually be all wrong,” he said.

“We are confident our presence in the region will revitalise the music industry and reduce the rate of piracy.”

The Swedish company has gathered a massive following since it launched its service in 2008. It has 25 million active users in 28 markets, of which almost a quarter subscribe to its Premium service.

Spotify estimates it would contribute US$1bil (RM3bil) in royalties to the music industry by the end of year.

This also marks the world’s largest music streaming service’s first foray into Asia and it is available across multiple platforms including tablets, PCs, Macs and some HDTVs.

“Asia has always been in the back of our minds and is a key market for us,” says Sriram Krishnan, Spotify’s head of new markets for Asia-Pacific.

“Music is a social experience and Malaysia has a vibrant Facebook community. With Spotify users can share and discover new songs by looking at their friend’s playlists and they can subscribe to the ones they like.”

Spotify has over 20 million songs — that’s more than anyone can listen to in his or her lifetime, he says.

To make it easy for users to discover new music, the service has a Radio feature which will recommend songs based on the one the user picks.

“Its like listening to radio but with the songs that you want to listen to,” he says.

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