Fri, Mar 04, 2011 - Page 12 News List

KKBOX looks to expand into Japan in Q3

NEW BUSINESS MODEL:Chunghwa Telecom’s most recent digital music platform allows businesses to play music without fear of copyright infringement

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

KKBOX Inc, Taiwan’s largest digital music service provider, is gearing up to launch its “all-you-can-eat” monthly package in Japan in the third quarter, marking its second overseas foray after Hong Kong.

“Per-song downloads is the mainstream digital music payment model in Japan. Our ‘all-you-can-eat’ package will be the first such business model there,” KKBOX general manager Izero Lee (李明哲) told reporters yesterday.

The average fee for per-song downloads is ¥350 (US$4.3) in Japan, compared with NT$19 (US$0.6) in Taiwan, he said.

The monthly subscription package — in which users can tune into online music 24X7 on their PCs or mobile phones with by clicking on KKBOX software — will tentatively be priced at about ¥2,500, Lee said.

The monthly package KKBOX offers in Taiwan costs only NT$149.

The Japanese foray comes in the wake of KDDI Corp, Japan’s No. 2 telecom services provider purchasing a 76 percent stake in KKBOX for ¥5 billion in December.

KKBOX became a subsidiary of KDDI, which has said it aims to tap KKBOX’s know-how to provide new content services for its smartphone users and pave the way for its entry into China.

According to Lee, KKBOX’s business priority this year is to enhance services in Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as roll out its service in Japan.

“We have been exploring opportunities in China, Malaysia and Singapore, but the copyrights talks with domestic labels have been difficult,” he said.

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), Taiwan’s No. 3 telecoms company, recently jteamed up with seven local record companies to launch “Omusic,” another digital music platform with has a collection of more than 200,000 titles.

This is the first time that Taiwanese fans can download songs legally to multiple electronics devices at one time by paying a single fee of NT$19. These titles are also free of digital rights management — a technology that limits song downloads to a single device.

KKBOX, which has more than 1 million songs in its archive, does not offer a per-song download service just yet, but it will follow in Omusic’s footsteps by offering the same service at the same price in July, Lee said.

Separately, Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the nation’s largest telecoms company and an investor in KKBOX, yesterday introduced “Hinet Funplay” digital music platform for businesses.

The platform is based on the music archive and technology of KKBOX, in which businesses can play the latest Mandarin pop songs in their outlets without worrying about their legality as the songs are all legally approved for playing in public venues.

Zoe International (展圓國際) — whose popular food-and-beverage chains include Azabu Sabo (麻布茶房), Dain Ti Hill (代官山) and Tamago Ya (蛋蛋屋) — is one of the first firms to sign up for Hinet Funplay.

Operating 50 dining outlets nationwide, Zoe is forking out a monthly fee of NT$1,200 per outlet to utilize the service, but chairman Chang Pao-ling (張寶鄰) said the service is worth every penny.

“We have eight dining brands that target various customer segments. We can play a variety of music in our outlets now without worrying that we might be violating copyright laws,” Chang said.

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