Australian music streaming service Guvera’s Michael Wallis-Brown tells e27 about where the firm is headed to next in Asia
Singapore, according to the company, is its 12th market to date, following home country Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, the US, India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Peru, and Chile.
At the moment, it has more than one million users globally. Michael Wallis-Brown, Chief Commercial Officer, Guvera Global and President and Managing Director, Guvera Asia, told e27 that even though the launch in Singapore was held on August 21, the product was already available for some time in the city-state. “… but we already have a strong base of early adopters and we are aiming for sustained growth over time,” he said.
Additionally, the firm has decided that engaging users with localised and relevant content is the way to go. Not only did Guvera appoint two local ambassadors — Michaela Therese and Seyra, it is also hosting an exclusive pre-stream of two singles from local singer-songwriter Gentle Bones’ latest work.
As a music streaming service, Guvera has two modes: Play and Platinum. Play is a free, ad-supported service that allows users to stream music from various devices. Platinum, on the other hand, is an ad-free on-demand music streaming service that starts from S$11.99 (US$9.59) in Singapore, which renders it more expensive than what competitors Deezer and Spotify are offering in the city-state.
For comparison, Deezer’s premium deal starts at S$4.95 (US$3.96) (usual price S$9.90 which converts to US$7.92) and Spotify’s premium deal starts at S$9.90 (US$7.92).
In his reply to e27, Wallis-Brown seemed to have side-stepped the question of why the firm launched Guvera Platinum at a higher price. He however noted,
“Guvera’s primary focus will always be on Guvera Play, which offers free, unlimited access to music across ALL devices — this is something many of our competitors don’t offer. Currently, a majority of our users are on Guvera Play. Research tells us that 95 per cent of consumers today want access to music, but don’t want to pay for it — Guvera provides a platform where they can legally access all their favourite music for free.”
This does not mean that Guvera Platinum is not important to the company. It is, after all, one way for the firm to generate revenue. He explained that the team is exploring “strategic partnerships and innovative alternate payment methods” to provide users with an affordable and accessible subscription service. In July 2014, for example, Guvera Indonesia launched a partnership with Codapay to offer carrier billing as a payment method for premium users.
He further added that “there’s also plenty of room for growth in Asia” despite challenges like piracy rates. According to a Connected Music Matters study which surveyed around 20,000 online consumers across 26 markets in April 2012, half of the people listening to or watching music videos on social networking sites are in Asia Pacific.
“It’s clear that music is a passion in Asia, and it’s gone social. Asians are the most willing to pay for music and they are heavy music app users. But a significant challenge exists for the industry — free streaming is popular in Latin America; and free downloading is much preferred in Asia,” said Steve Garton, who presented the findings from the study at the Digital and Music Matters 2012 conference.
With rising smartphone and internet adoption rates coupled with a general rise of awareness towards music streaming services, the number of people listening to or watching music videos online in Asia is only going to increase.
After Singapore which doubles up as the company’s regional hub, Guvera is headed for India with its official launch. Wallis-Brown enthused, “We’re excited to be launching in India soon as it’s such a vibrant market with a thriving local music industry — watch this space!”