Sony Music boss Rob Stringer has been talking about the major label’s hopes for emerging markets, including its expectations that there will be healthy paid-music ecosystems rather than simply ad-supported services.

“We are fully focused on developing viable subscription businesses in emerging markets such as China and India, where previously only very limited physical or digital download business existed,” Stringer told Sony Corp investors this week, according to MBW.

“Over the long term, once markets are established, [our] focus will turn to increasing revenue per user by enhancing the product and plan offerings. This includes greater differentiation between free and paid tiers as well as up-sell opportunities driven by new product and content configurations, expanding the use of voice [control] at home and in the car, as well as launching pre-paid subscriptions in markets such as Latin America and India.”

Certainly in China, this hope for a free-to-paid migration is much wider. “Differentiating between what a paying user gets and what a free user gets will be the thrust of the next year. Certainly the conversations we’re having point in that direction,” Beggars Group’s Simon Wheeler told Music Ally recently. “We’ve got to get all the services together and agree that we’re going to put stuff behind the paywall.”

IFPI’s regional director KT Ang reiterated that view last week at The Great Escape conference too. “From the [record] companies’ perspective, the real question is how do we get them to switch from legal and free to legal and paid? You can see that there is really a ground-shift. The question is how to monetise that shift.”

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