Monday, November 13, 2000
EMI sees feast of opportunities for music in Asia
Jay Samit imagines a day when diners receive a tiny music disc, featuring the new Faye Wong or Garbage single, with their Happy Meal at McDonald's.
Mr Samit, from the New Media Division of EMI Recorded Music, is responsible for finding new distribution methods for an old product - music.
"The Internet as you know it is exploding over here," said Mr Samit, who was in Hong Kong on Friday after flying out from his Hollywood office en route to Kuala Lumpur for a gathering of regional New Media staff this week. "All the great ideas aren't coming out of America or Europe."
EMI is searching Asia for new ways and new partners to help market and sell the sounds made by its artists. In recent weeks the record label has taken a significant minority stake in digital download retailer Soundbuzz of Singapore.
EMI, which is the world's largest "pure play" company, is looking at Asia and all its expatriates who can find music from home on the Net. "Our goal is to be in digital download by the end of this year in Asia," Mr Samit said.
That might include some kind of deal in December, he said.
Musical download off the Internet would include some kind of payment system, such as Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM software provides a questionnaire the first time a user visits a site, and tracks preferences and perhaps credit card numbers.
The Net, through increased marketing and different ways of downloading music, had been one of EMI's largest profits centres for the past two years, Mr Samit said.
"Now, we can reach expat populations with local repertoire anywhere around the world," he said. For example, the expatriate
population of India made more money for the company than India itself - a lucrative market.
EMI is also eyeing wireless music - a way of putting rock or classical music on your mobile phone by plugging in that tiny disc
or by downloading it off the Web. Mr Samit is also looking at hands-free devices, often seen as Asia's way of leap-frogging
America's cyber boom.
"Wireless is a growth opportunity for us," he said.
EMI has partnered with online audio firm Radiowave.com to
create an all-jazz station on the Web, when there are not enough jazz lovers to demand such a radio format in most cities
around the globe.
It also downloads sheet music to 20,000 churches every month in the United States, allowing choirmasters to make a selection
for church services.
Or, it can plug old-fashioned, coin-operated jukeboxes into the Internet. Instead of being forced to update with new CDs,
people could simply download the music from the Web.