Music Streaming Services in Vietnam: Opportunities and Challenges
Music streaming services are becoming more popular in Vietnam and this is opening up opportunities for foreign music streaming services and investors.
As a country with a large, youthful population, a rapidly growing market for digital services, and a deeply ingrained musical culture, music streaming services in Vietnam are becoming more and more popular.
According to a report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, music is the most popular form of entertainment in Vietnam, with 75 percent of Vietnamese people listening to music on a daily basis. Additionally, a significant majority of respondents, 93 percent, use mobile phones to listen to music. In this light, it’s clear that music has become easily accessible and this is creating new opportunities for musicians, audiences, and businesses.
Music streaming behavior in Vietnam
According to a Q&Me survey on music listening behavior in Vietnam, Vietnamese music has a clear advantage, with 95 percent of respondents choosing it as their preferred music type. It is followed by US music (28 percent) and Korean music (27 percent). In terms of music genres, the most popular genre in Vietnam is pop, with 44 percent of respondents listing it as their first preference, followed by EDM/dance at 33 percent, hip-hop/rap at 29 percent, bolero at 28 percent, rock at 20 percent, classical at 17 percent, R&B/soul at 12 percent, country at 11 percent, jazz at 11 percent, and other genres accounting for approximately 27 percent.
Whereas 93 percent of Vietnamese use their smartphones to listen to music, 34 percent also use laptops, 31 percent use TVs, 17 percent use tablets,10 percent use MP3/MP4 players, and 7 percent use radios. The top three factors driving music listening behavior in Vietnam are music quality, diversity, and the ability to download music.
Among Vietnamese artists, Son Tung M-TP is the most popular artist on online music platforms, listed as the first preference for 41 percent of survey participants. Singer-songwriter Jack comes in second place with 34 percent. Other more experienced artists with a large fan base in Vietnam, such as My Tam at 17 percent, and Dan Truong at 12 percent, are also mentioned. Regarding international artists, Taylor Swift is the most listened-to artist in Vietnam, chosen by 20 percent of they survey’s participants. The Korean groups Blackpink and BTS rank second and third, respectively.
When it comes to music streaming apps, the most popular app among all surveyed generations is YouTube. That said, the Vietnamese music app, Zing MP3, is popular among Generation Y, while NhacCuaTui is more popular among the older generation. Meanwhile, Generation Z has been increasingly drawn to Spotify and SoundCloud, with 10 percent of survey respondents using Spotify and four percent using SoundCloud.
In Vietnam, the music industry faces a significant challenge from piracy, where users frequently obtain and consume music from unauthorized platforms, websites, applications, or through hacks, without compensating the creators. This widespread piracy negatively impacts the revenue and motivation of music creators and distributors and also hampers the overall quality and variety of the music market.
During the initial period when Spotify first entered the Vietnamese market, there were discussions on major tech forums providing instructions on how to hack Spotify Premium accounts for free, instead of paying VND 59,000. Zing MP3 also faced a similar situation when they released an update in April 2017, migrating all Zing ID accounts to Zalo accounts. During this migration, a vulnerability emerged, allowing hackers to easily convert regular Zing MP3 accounts into Zing MP3 VIP accounts, valid for 10 years.
According to Pham Thi Kim Oanh, Deputy Director of the Copyright Department at the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the protection of digital music copyright has become a pressing concern in Vietnam. On February 17, 2022, Vietnam officially joined the international copyright protection community by implementing the Copyright Treaty of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WCT). This is a significant step towards safeguarding copyright in the digital music realm.
Competition is another challenge for music streaming services in Vietnam, as they have to compete with both local and global players, such as YouTube, Zing MP3, and Spotify. Online music streaming apps must continuously upgrade in order to provide users in Vietnam with the best possible experiences at a competitive cost. Only then can they win the hearts of Vietnamese users.
Potential for growth
Increasing internet penetration, smartphone ownership
As of January 2023, Vietnam had a total of 77.93 million internet users, representing an internet penetration rate of 79.1 percent, according to DataReportal. This indicates significant growth compared to 2013, when only 35.6 percent of the population had internet access.
The smartphone market in Vietnam is also experiencing a rapid expansion, with a growing number of individuals using mobile devices to connect to the internet, engage in social media, participate in e-commerce, and access other online services. It is projected that the number of smartphone users in Vietnam will continue to rise, adding a total of 6.9 million users between 2024 and 2028.
Rising disposable incomes and willingness to pay for music streaming services in Vietnam
The disposable income and willingness to pay for music streaming services in Vietnam are both rising, as the country’s economy grows and the demand for online entertainment increases.
In 2023, it is projected that the household disposable income in Vietnam will reach US$295.10 billion. Additionally, it is expected that by 2030, Vietnam will become the fifth largest economy in Southeast Asia, with 50 percent of households having an annual disposable income ranging from US$5,000 to US$15,000.
Furthermore, the music streaming market is anticipated to experience a steady growth rate, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 6.37 percent (CAGR 2023-2027). This growth is expected to result in a market volume of US$45.97 million by 2027.
Opportunities for foreign investors
Specific niches and genres
Foreign music streaming services can address the market’s untapped needs by focusing on specific niches or genres, which are not extensively covered by other streaming platforms in Vietnam. By establishing a distinct brand identity and value proposition, new market entrants can set themselves apart from their competitors. However, competing with established streaming platforms that already possess a large user base and concentrate heavily on Vietnamese music may be challenging.
Running ads on music streaming platforms
Advertising on music streaming platforms offers a fantastic opportunity to connect with a sizable community of music enthusiasts. According to Kantar’s market research, Spotify was the most preferred advertising channel among Vietnamese consumers in 2022. Therefore, businesses can leverage these channels as a means to reach a large number of potential customers.
Leading music streaming platforms in Vietnam
There are a number of music streaming platforms currently operating in Vietnam.
YouTube officially launched its paid services, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music, in the Vietnamese market in April 2023. With YouTube Music, users can listen to the latest hits, easily search for their favorite songs, and stay connected to the world of music by discovering countless new tracks on their own devices. In addition, users can enjoy a more immersive music experience by choosing the ad-free version with YouTube Music Premium.
For YouTube Music Premium, which offers ad-free music, background play, and downloads on YouTube Music, the price is VND 65,000 VND (US$2.67) per month. The Music Premium Family Plan is priced at VND 99,000 (US$4.07) per month, and the Music Premium plan for students is priced at VND 35,000 (US$1.44) per month.
As of the end of the second quarter of 2023, Zing MP3 was one of the leading free music streaming applications in Vietnam, with a large number of regular users. It is highly searched for and downloaded on both iOS and Android platforms. Zing MP3 claims 28 million regular users by offering a vast music library with copyright to over 90 percent of Vietnamese music.
In addition to catering to the music listening habits of Vietnamese users, technology is also considered one of the strengths that has helped Zing MP3 surpass other globally renowned applications. It provides a stable music listening experience and suggests songs and playlists that align with users’ preferences and emotions.
After establishing its presence in Vietnam in 2018, Spotify revitalized the previously stagnant online music industry. Spotify offers users a remarkable music listening experience, featuring customized recommendations tailored to their personal listening habits and preferences. It also provides handpicked playlists catering to different moods, occasions, genres, and activities. Furthermore, users can enjoy the convenience of downloading music and listening to it offline by subscribing to Spotify Premium.
To enjoy an ad-free music experience, Spotify offers different Premium packages for users in Vietnam, including:
- Student: Free for the first three months after signing up, then VND 29,500 (US $1.21) per month.
- Individual: Free for the first month after signing up, then VND 59,000 (US$2.42) per month.
- Mini: VND 2,300 (US$0.094) per day. This package allows usage on only one mobile device.
Similar to Zing MP3, NhacCuaTui is a local application that offers a free package for users to enjoy music at standard quality (typically 128 Kbps). As one of the largest online music streaming applications in Vietnam, NhacCuaTui stands out with its intelligent and user-friendly interface, making it easy for users to navigate and enjoy their music experience. It also boasts a diverse music library with millions of songs and regular updates with the latest hits from both domestic and international artists.
SoundCloud is an online platform dedicated to music and audio. This application allows artists, both professional and amateur, to upload and store audio content, discover new songs and podcasts, and connect with fans and other musicians. The majority of users choose SoundCloud to discover the freshness and uniqueness offered by street and independent artists.
Music streaming is an attractive market for foreign investors who want to explore the opportunities in Vietnam’s digital media sector. However, they should also be prepared to face some challenges, such as intellectual property issues and fierce competition from local and regional players. Therefore, foreign firms need to conduct thorough market research, understand customer behaviors and preferences, develop a clear and compelling value proposition, and establish a strong brand identity and reputation in order to succeed in Vietnam.
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