Korean music lovers going crazy over Milk

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Korean music lovers going crazy over Milk



Samsung Electronics’ Milk Music, a free radio application launched in Korea with the Galaxy Note 4 phablet, is sweeping the app market.

The world’s largest smartphone manufacturer said Tuesday that Milk Music was No. 1 among Korean users in the Google Play store’s free app category just six days after its launch. The app surpassed 500,000 downloads on Monday.

A day earlier, the Android store’s top two most downloaded apps by Koreans were V3+ and KakaoTalk. It is notable that a music service app overtook the positions of Korea’s most popular messenger app, KakaoTalk, and AhnLab’s security app.

Milk Music gives free streaming access to 3.6 million songs, the largest music service in Korea.

And because the app only works on Samsung smartphones, analysts say it will become a strong marketing tool for a smartphone giant currently suffering from lackluster sales.

The app doesn’t work on other Android-based smartphones like those produced by LG Electronics. In addition, it doesn’t work on older Samsung devices released before the Galaxy S2 in 2011. Only Samsung devices using Android 4.0 or later can use it.

Milk Music was developed by the Media Solution Center at Samsung Electronics’ mobile business division.

However, Samsung didn’t pre-install the app on its smartphones.

“We couldn’t have it pre-installed mainly due to strong opposition from local mobile carriers, who currently have their own music services,” said an official at Samsung Electronics.

The United States was the first country where Samsung introduced Milk Music in March, with Korea being the second destination. In the U.S.-based Android market, the app recorded more than four million downloads in six months. Milk Music is competing against Apple’s iTunes Radio service, which was launched last September, for the No. 1 download.

In the U.S. market, Samsung plans to sell advertising. Users can listen to free music after listening to commercials. The company also plans to launch a paid version of Milk Music that works when the data network and Wi-Fi are off or unavailable.

“We are planning to release the app in Europe and China following the United States and Korea,” said a source at Samsung Electronics. “We hope Milk Music will grow into a highly valuable global content provider only available on Galaxy smartphones, like iTunes.”

Samsung smartphone holders can listen to free music by streaming with Milk App, but the app doesn’t allow them to select songs. That is why the service is called a “music radio service.” The app also doesn’t allow downloads of songs, unlike popular music service providers like Melon.

Free streaming access to a huge pool of 3.6 million songs is the big strength of Milk Music. If users want to download a song found on Milk Music, they will have to resort to total music services like Melon and Samsung Music, which charge 600 won ($0.56) per song and 6,000 won for monthly streaming subscriptions.

The way Milk Music chooses songs is intuitive.

Users can move among different music genres by manipulating a dial in the middle of the screen. The dial is subdivided into 220 genres, ranging from the top 100 songs in Korea to Korean hip-hop, Korean indie music, ballads and jazz.

Milk Music allows users to pick favorite singers and songs so they become part of song selections, unlike other radio apps. Turning the dial allows users to jump between genres and songs.

The app is getting good feedback on the app store, recording 4.6 out of five points. A user nicknamed Peter Joon said, “The Milk Music has simple user experience (UX), so it is easy to operate. It is very convenient to use even during short breaks without struggling with how to operate it.”

However, users should note that the music is free, but accessing the app consumes 3G or LTE data if not logged in via Wi-Fi.

An hour of streaming music from Milk Music consumes about 36 megabits of data. Also, switching genres or songs consumes two megabits, so frequent switching results in more data use. Users should try to connect via Wi-Fi unless they have an unlimited data plan.

Within a few days of its launch, Milk Music faced its first crisis.

The Korea Music Copyright Association on Wednesday released a statement saying that the free music streaming service should become a paid one, as written in an initial contract made between Samsung and the group in August.

Samsung announced that the August contract said it will directly pay the streaming charges - instead of individual customers - to Soribada, a subcontractor service company.

But the association said the streaming fee is not the core of the problem. The association said it will send out a warning of canceling the contract if Samsung doesn’t start charging Milk Music users by Oct. 10.


BY CHOI JOON-HO, KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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