New music albums go mobile

JoongAng Daily. May 20, 2004
By Wohn Dong-hee

In the past, pop singers released their newest music through CDs. Now, the sluggish music industry is making a new attempt to survive by releasing single songs through new digital channels.On Monday, such famous Korean pop singers as Lee Hyo-lee, Brown Eyed Soul, Shinhwa and Seven began offering their music in cyberspace. The new singles can be downloaded to cellular phones or be played at certain music portal sites on the Internet.
The concept of providing music through files instead of conventional audio materials such as compact discs or cassette tapes is not new. Last June, Ricky Martin promoted his new album only through mobile service. The difference, however, is that these songs were created solely for the purpose of digital distribution ― and more out of desperation than a search for a new promotion tool.

“Illegal music distribution through the Internet and the continuing economic recession are damaging the music industry. Since cultural trends are changing, we have to change the way we distribute music too,” said Jang Seok-woo, president of Aodio, a music entertainment agency that will begin producing “digital” singles. “What is also exciting is that with emerging artists, we can produce music that caters just to mobile users’ needs. Depending on who the target listener is, we can select the music genre, type of voice, and lyrics that they will like,” Mr. Jang added. On the cellular phone, these new singles will be available through SK Telecom’s wireless service for 900 won ($ 0.76) per song. “The music files for mobile singles are very high in quality. It will be different than listening to music through the radio or television,” said SK mobile PR division’s Kim Jun-sung. “The music can also be integrated with existing mobile services, and be used as ringing tones, connecting tunes or karaoke.”Music production companies are aiming in the long run to make these wireless channels the main distribution market.
“CD production costs are massive, but digital distribution is so much more cost-efficient. Also, since high-speed Internet connection and wireless service is so widespread in Korea, we don’t think it will take a lot of time to adapt to this new method of publishing art,” said Shin Min-kyung, media director of Good Entertainment. “Musicians are pretty cooperative as well. They weren’t keen about the idea at first, but they’ve seen MP3 files rampage through the Web, and they realize that they have to go with the tide,” he said.

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