Asia is now the driving force behind demand for mobile music services, which will make up for lost revenue by telecom firms in their voice-only services, US recording label Warner Music said yesterday.
South Korea and Japan dominate the mobile music market, and Asia Pacific holds the largest market for services to download music onto cellular phones with sales worth US$3.2 billion last year.
"South Korea, as many of you know, is perhaps the most advanced country in the world for music along with Japan," said Alejandro Zubillaga, executive vice president of Warner Music Group.
"Consumers there spend more than twice as much on mobile music as they do on physical products," he said in a speech at a telecom conference in Singapore.
For telecom operators facing declining average revenue per user (ARPU), providing subscribers with services to download music will become more important and Asia is the place to be, he said.
"In contrast to declining voice ARPU, however, data-driven ARPU is on the rise ... the bottomline is that rich data services such as music and music related content will help drive this growth further and faster," he said.
"Mobile music can clearly help you increase usage," he said.
To tap into the growing popularity of mobile music downloads, Warner Music Group is transforming itself from a pure recording company to include work with content service providers, like video-sharing Web site YouTube, to promote its stable of artists.
The US recording label has also invested millions of dollars on popular Asian artists like Japan's Rip Slyme, Thailand's Carabao, Indonesia's Jikustik to tap the growing popularity of music downloads in the region.
"The future of music definitely does not rest on simply exporting Western superstars ... on the consumption side, Asia Pacific already constitutes a healthy 20 percent of the global recorded music market and is the largest mobile music region in the world," he said.
"At Warner, we consider Asia to be the world's incubator not just for technology but for how people use technology," he said.
He says Warner has over 100 regional artists under it stable and expects the figure to rise in the coming years.