Thursday, January 05, 2006

Recording Companies See Progress

While they are loathe to say so, much like their US counterparts, Korean record companies are seeing and reaping progress in their fight against copyright infringement on line. From the Dong-A:

Keum Ki-hoon, the 36-year-old chief of Wizmax, an online music portal, says, “Last year, the market value of the entire digital media market was 400 billion won. This year, it is predicted to be around 500 billion,” adding, “The provisional disposition of ‘Soribada’ last year, the MP3 pay-per-download service of ‘Bugs Music,’ and the participation of all three mobile telecommunications industries through programs like ‘Music On’; ‘Dosirak,’ and ‘Melon’ will provide the base for full-scale growth in the digital single market this year.”

However such progress does come with a downside, a move away from traditional mega-hits and a more fragmented market:

Once profits can be reaped from the online market, albums devoted to popular music genres, such as medium-tempo ballads will change, and music genres with small but devoted fan bases such as hip-hop, rock, shibuya kei, and world music, could expand greatly.


At January 08, 2006 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The misinformation about online music in Korea staggers me. Like all those stories talking about legal victories against Soribada in 2005.

Sorry, but Soribada won and lost several cases in 2005. The August case that the music industry "won," leading to Soribada's shutdown in October, in fact only shut down the for-pay version of Soribada -- the version of Soribada that generated revenue and got money back to the music labels. The courts have consistently supported Soribada and file-sharing in Korea, as long as no money is involved. Brilliant.

The Korea music industry really is world class -- it is just like the American music industry, only more corrupt, venal, bland and idiotic. Korea #1!

Which reminds me -- I thought the Internet was supposed to lead to a "long tail" business model. But all the online entertainment services in Korea -- music, DVD shops, etc. -- have led to *less* variety, not more. At least as far as I can tell. I would love to see some data that proves me wrong.

Oh, if you are wondering why, when the music industry is thriving online in Korea, why hasn't the movie industry made the same leap. Well the Ministry of Information and Communication and the Korea Broadcasting Commission are having too much fun feuding over who gets to control IPTV.

Here is a service that Korea is uniquely ready for, that Korean consumers are clamoring for, and that would help Korea on the world stage, but some random bureaucrats would rather bicker endlessly than let these businesses operate.


At January 08, 2006 11:25 AM, Blogger Dram Man said...


Legally speaking I think the Korean Courts have made great strides to shut down p2p and similar services in Korea. It was not long ago that Korean Courts considered p2p swapping covered under "fair use". Granted on the ground results are mixed.

I am debating whether or not to respond more private or public to this. I think here since it may be more illustrative for some.

As many know, I rarely automatically believe statistics quoted in Korean newspapers. This is because such numbers usually reinforce biases than reflect reality. To get that back to the music business, I wonder if perceptions on the popularly of certain musicians are based more on marketing than reality. Further the perception of the decline of diversity more due to the fact that record companies are promoting, in levels like they used to, few bands on average.

At the same time I am suprised how the iPod I got a year ago has changed my listening habits. First, I am less apt to listen to entire albums and thereby find isolated tracks that only I like. This would reinforce your point perhaps. On the other hand, I am less likely to pay attention to the hubbub around mainstream artists.

At January 08, 2006 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not an iPod guy, but iTunes has helped me out plenty. When I listen to rock radio, I usually listen to KCRW, which has a pretty broad playlist.

iTunes' jazz choices are not so good, and its classical offerings are pathetic, but every little bit helps.

Anyhow, point is for me and most people in the West, the Internet has led to diversity. Japan is a fairly diverse market. So I'm really confused why Koreans are so uncreative. Most classical music folks don't know anything after 1910. Jazz people usually think about "jazz standards" (I mean, I love My Funny Valentine as much as the next guy, but after 1000 times...).

As for file sharing... The Korean courts still do support illegal file sharing, as long as it is done for free. Soribada won related cases about that in January. It's when the various services tried to make money off of illegal file sharing (or kept the music on centralized servers for public access) that the courts laid the smack down.

I think the biggest thing helping the for-pay Internet music scene in Korea has not been cracking down on illegal file sharing but developing good, legal alternatives. Koreans especially seem to like subscription services, where you can listen to anything you like for 5,000 won/month.

While that might not seem like a lot, the fact is most people do not spend 60,000 won/year on music. So by locking in millions of people into subscription services, you end up making a lot more money than you did on individual CD sales.

Women especially do not like the hassel of illegal file sharing -- finding files, downloading them and hoping they work.

Most people want a convenient, legal alternative. But the music industry (here as elsewhere) has been far more concerned about control and satisfying themselves than they have been concerned about satisfying customers.

- Haisan

At January 08, 2006 1:01 PM, Blogger Dram Man said...


Sorry for not putting a finer point by what I meant by p2p services. I hasten to add that free swapping may change in the next round of KSC rulings. I get the feeling that the KSC is tired of Soribada's "insolence" in this matter if you get my drift.

Your points on subscription are good, however off in a tangent in a way. The real debate is not whether to allow infringement. Everyone knows its impossible to stamp-out. The real question is how much infringement to be tolerated. I personally think people get way too caught up in finding/promoting a "third way" that they dismiss fundamental questions at their own peril.


Post a Comment

<< Home