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Asia’s digital divide poses challenge for music industry

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HONG KONG: Technology is the new rock ‘n’ roll as smartphones and digital services transform the music industry. But for those companies helping change the way music is consumed, Asia presents big hurdles.

Apple’s iTunes music store — which has stamped its presence in the US and Europe as sales in traditional formats such as compact discs continue to fall — is still a limited service in many parts of the region.

Other global players and streaming services popular in the West such as startup Spotify, a privately held firm launched in Sweden in 2008, are in the process of launching digital platforms in Asia, say analysts.

But together with the region’s sprawl of very different cultural sensibilities, complicated licensing issues between record companies, publishers and groups holding performing rights, and piracy hotspots, digital growth has been mixed.

“Doing business in the so-called western world is a little simpler,” Ruuben van den Heuvel, executive director of music, media and technology consultancy GateWay Entertainment told AFP from Brisbane, Australia.

“For western companies coming to Asia, it’s like stepping onto a brand new planet and wondering how it works,” he said. “The landscape for digital music is a bit of a piracy wasteland.”

Globally the music industry remains in a period of dramatic change as it tries to reconcile the Internet’s ability to grow audiences with the fact that this means people can easily get their music for free using peer-to-peer (P2P) software.

Recent data suggests the industry is starting to turn things around.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), digital music revenues grew 8.0 percent last year to $5.2 billion.

Read Full Story: The Times of India