The music industry has been thinking a lot about how South Korean artists like BTS and Blackpink are growing their audiences on streaming services worldwide. But what’s happening with streaming back in their home country?
A recent survey of 3,500 people by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) offers an interesting snapshot of shifting power in the music streaming world. Melon is still the most popular streaming service in South Korea, used by 32.8% of the respondents. However, that share is in decline from 34.6% in 2021 and 36.4% in 2020, according to Korea Bizwire.
Where might those subscribers have gone? YouTube appears to be one of the main beneficiaries, growing its share from 26% to 28.7% in the last year. However, once YouTube Music is factored in, the combined share is 38.5%, up from 35.5% last year. So, YouTube had already overtaken Melon in 2021, but the gap is widening.
KOCCA’s figures offer an interesting comparison to another study, carried out by the Recording Industry Association of Korea last August. It surveyed 1,500 streaming subscribers about their favourite DSPs, and found that 52.7% chose Melon and 31.2% chose YouTube Music – in a question where multiple answers were allowed.
A contradiction? Well, RIAK was specifically surveying paying subscribers, whereas the KOCCA study is focusing on the general population, including free streamers.
South Korea is a significant market for recorded music: the seventh biggest in the world in 2021 according to the IFPI. Streaming accounted for 62% of recorded music’s trade value there that year, with Melon and YouTube Music joined by Apple Music, Flo Music and Genie Music in the top five DSPs by subscribers – although the IFPI didn’t rank them.