Ready to get legit with your music downloads?
KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — Before online downloads were available in Malaysia, audiophiles could only enjoy their music when they bought it through a retail store. If you are lucky, your friend burns a duplicate of the album that you both like. That was how people listened to legal music they discovered on the radio waves.
When online downloads became a norm, you hardly found people (especially the youth) at the record stores. Up until recently, there were no legit outlets to download music; you had to have a US billing address and US credit card to buy music from iTunes... until the introduction of Infogo.com.
With more than 19 million songs to choose from, Infogo is a service provided by UK-based company Prodigium Mobile that allows people from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and India to buy affordable singles or albums using a cloud-based system.
Each purchase is fully licensed and DRM-free and you can enjoy music you purchased online and offline. With the freedom of connecting up to 10 devices, including smartphones, tablets and personal computers, Infogo can be accessed anytime and anywhere.
Infogo.com have negotiated international music rights agreements for all the leading record labels, including Warner Music, Universal Music, EMI and Sony Music through 7digital, a leading digital media delivery company.
Currently, there is a Google Play and BlackBerry Infogo app with an iOS app in the works. Nevertheless, iOS users can still access the Infogo cloud using their mobile browsers.
On average, a single costs about RM3 while a whole album, for example, Smashing Pumpkin’s Oceania costs about RM23.95.
Prodigium Mobile CEO Bill Duvall pointed out that instant noodles and instant coffee are already popular in Asia so he believes that Asians would take to “instant music.”
“The main consideration is convenience. There is no need to wait – you log in, browse, choose, and listen to previews… and buy your songs on-the-spot. There is no need to rush anywhere, endure a traffic jam or pay for petrol, toll and parking fees.
“With infogo.com, you also get a huge choice of songs that you can browse through and listen to, before you buy. Choice also means that you enjoy the option of buying one song, two songs, three songs… or buying the whole album,” he said.
Soon after Infogo.com was launched, Apple announced the launch of Malaysia’s iTunes Store. The original Apple iTunes Store was launched on April 28, 2003, and it offers over 28 million songs, videos and apps. By October 4, 2011, the Apple iTunes Store has already sold 16 billion songs.
Malaysians have been waiting to download the newly-released music from international music labels on the iTunes Store since Day One and now, the time has finally come.
The timely introduction of both Infogo.com and Apple iTunes Store allows consumers in Malaysia a huge range of options and variety.
Current iTunes users can download music and movies from the Malaysian iTunes Store with choices ranging from Innuendo’s “Belaian Jiwa” to Nicki Minaj’s “Starships”. There is also a selection of K-Pop music for hallyu fans.
Using iCloud, Apple’s own cloud service, iTunes users can sync their music across all their Apple devices, allowing them to access music anywhere and everywhere. The price of Blur’s single “Song 2” on the Malaysian iTunes Store is only US$0.69.
Payment is tied to your Apple ID account, using the credit card details you entered when you signed up for the account.
I had an opportunity to speak to a source from Apple about iTunes Store Malaysia. He said that the current selection of music and movies will continue to grow as the US-based company works with more record labels, content partners and even local distributors to bring in more content in the future.
There is a lot of work involved in the backend infrastructure of iTunes Store Malaysia and it is an exciting time because there will be more than music and movies for this region.
The source also said that it is an ongoing process with finite details to ensure that the best quality content is provided on the iTunes Store Malaysia.
Comparing the two music services, Infogo.com is slightly cheaper because the currency is set to Malaysian ringgit while the iTunes Store is based on the US dollar, which is subjected to currency fluctuations and bank charges.
Infogo.com also offers much more accessibility to its users as consumers have the freedom to download their purchased tracks as many times as they want up to 10 devices, and also allowing them to burn their tracks on a disk or onto a USB device or SD card, while iTunes consumers can only download their tracks onto five compatible devices which are only recognised by iTunes, and are only able to burn a playlist and tracks no more than seven times.
However, both offer equally good choices of music genres so it is a really competitive market right now for both players.The only thing that trumps Infogo is Apple’s selection of movies, and the availability of Apple TV in Malaysia. This adds on to the existing collection of apps available for iOS devices.
When asked about the competition of iTunes Malaysia, Duvall said, “We are looking to deliver our content to as many connected devices as possible... Android devices, BlackBerry devices, Mac or PC computers, as well as iPhones and iPads... Infogo.com does not want to limit its services to one brand, one operating system or one service provider.”
Infogo.com aims to promote independent music in Asia, partnering with Clarion on the “Music for Life” campaign that highlights new artists and talents not yet discovered or signed by any music labels.
The company’s vision is also to offer more than just music, it wants to be Asia’s preferred cloud services provider. Duvall shared that Infogo.com has plans to be a socially aware company, returning a portion of proceeds from sales of music in each country to fund worthwhile charities.
A quick survey among Malaysians showed that some wouldn’t mind paying for legal music from Infogo.com and Apple iTunes Store but there were still people who would rather keep downloading illegally.
“I can get songs and movies for free with my fast Internet connection,” one person reasoned.
Ironically, this mentality of getting something “free” has been burned into the Malaysian consumer’s mind for many years because of the inaccessibility to legal downloads in the past.
The outlook on legal downloads is uncertain but with the availability of Infogo.com and Apple iTunes Store, hopefully this mentality will change.