Vibe, a Korean music streaming service created by Naver, has recently announced a billing system that is more transparent and profitable for artists. It aims to pay artists based solely on how long individual users have listened to a certain song. Other widely used platforms such as South Korea’s Melon share streaming revenue with artists by collecting payments from users and dividing them up according to the percentage of streams each artist receives. This system has created problems, including leading fans of rookie bands or indie musicians to primarily support mainstream artists with their payments. In addition, with recent problems involving the manipulation of music charts in order to reap greater profits, Vibe’s introduction of a new system has been met with a warm welcome.
“I think Vibe’s new payment service will prove massively beneficial to not only artists who receive the revenue that they deserve, but also to users as they can trust the app,” said Amy Kim (12), a Spotify user. “Melon has received a lot of criticism especially after Park Kyung, a member of the K-pop group BlockB, exposed artists using bribery to remain at the top of Melon’s music chart. Other platforms should adopt Vibe’s payment service so that we can prevent an issue like this.”
Melon has always been a dominant company in the music streaming service industry. Previously, when few believed listeners should pay to listen to music online, Melon began a streaming service that soon became widely used. But two years ago, several low profile artists started topping the charts, even defeating major K-pop stars including BTS and EXO. Accusations rose from listeners who were unfamiliar with these artists and these charges were later confirmed when Park Kyung denounced specific artists for bribery, opening up a police investigation in late 2019. Given this status quo, new streaming service applications are entering the spotlight, challenging Melon’s hegemony.
“The introduction of new streaming services is definitely an incentive for change for everyone involved in this industry,” said Kristina Kim (12), a Melon user. “The prospect of another company dominating the market definitely threatens Melon’s future. However, what Vibe needs to consider is the lack of an industry-wide agreement. There are multiple stakeholders for this new system to be implemented, such as artists, agencies, copyright organizations, etc. Getting them all to agree and proceeding with a new plan will require tremendous amounts of money. This will be an obstacle that Vibe should consider how to overcome.”
Although implementing this new system will initially cost a lot, for Vibe, the adoption of it is also about garnering more attention from streaming service users and significantly elevating its brand image in the music industry. Meanwhile, Melon has reacted to predictions that Vibe’s billing system will rapidly gain traction, including discussions on how it will also implement this service if proven successful.
“The fact that other mainstream companies like Melon is reacting to a change in the system is very positive news,” said Elly Choi (11), a Vibe user. “Vibe essentially created a revolution in the industry encouraging the development of a system that is both user-centric and appreciative of artists. The current payment system could easily be exploited with artists’ bribery to remain at the top of the charts, which had become a burgeoning issue. It is efforts like Vibe’s to overturn the problematic status quo that we should applaud and encourage not just in the music industry but also in other industries.”