Though other messaging apps with powerful bases in Asia have discussed adding music, it looks like South Korea's Kakao is first out with KakaoMusic. Social aspects are emphasized with the focus being a "personally curated music room" for purchased music one shares with friends. Not only do such developments threaten the global ambitions of major Western music services, they are also a reminder that the competition for streaming music dominance takes place amongst a diverse array of competitors for the attention of music listeners.
Kakao is best known for its KakaoTalk mobile messaging app that passed 100 million users in July. But Kakao has produced a number of interrelated apps such as KakaoPlace, a travel app, and KakaoPage, a digital content marketplace.
In a recent interview Kakao's global head of PR, Sonia Im, discussed KakaoMusic which draws on the social connections already developed through KakaoTalk and KakaoStory and features a "personally curated music room":
"The music room is a personal space within the KakaoMusic application that displays all of the songs that a user has purchased, in addition to the comments left to the user. Leveraging the friend list from KakaoTalk, users can easily visit their friends’ music rooms to check out their music list and share opinion. This is different from other services in that 1) it leverages a social graph from KakaoTalk, and 2) people can socialize within the app."
But the sharing and listening can also occur beyond KakaoMusic's rooms:
"It is also highly integrated with KakaoStory, Korea’s number one SNS service. Once a user purchases a song from KakaoMusic, they can choose to post the song on their KakaoStory. KakaoStory friends can not only leave comments about their friends’ song selection, but can also click on the music post to directly listen to the song (users need to also be KakaoMusic users to enjoy this awesome feature)."
As Sonia Im explained, KakaoMusic is another step in creating a "solid mobile social platform."
Given the increasingly private/personal nature of messaging apps as social networks, KakaoMusic's music rooms seem like a natural response in keeping with developments to date at Kakao and in the larger arena of mobile communications.
KakaoMusic is also a reminder that streaming music sites such as Spotify and web radio services such as Pandora aren't just in competition with other variations on those approaches. They're in competition with every other source of streaming music that vies for attention from YouTube and SoundCloud to new services such as KakaoMusic.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.