KKBox goes from music streaming to live gigs

(From far left) Ms Josephine Cheng, chief operation officer, Ms Catherine Chien, vice-president of marketing and content strategy, and Mr Andrew Ho, South-east Asia managing director.
(From left) Ms Josephine Cheng, chief operation officer, Ms Catherine Chien, vice-president of marketing and content strategy, and Mr Andrew Ho, South-east Asia managing director.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

KKBox, which made its debut in Singapore five years ago, has a reputation as a streaming service with a strong selection of Asian pop music.

But as its users and music fans here have found out, the service, which originated in Taiwan in 2004, has expanded into other areas that let them connect with the pop stars, whether through live events or fan meets.

KKBox has organised gigs here for artists such as Taiwanese acts Bii and William Wei and has given a leg up to local acts by supporting initiatives such as Chinese songwriting contest SG:SW 2017, in which it was the official music partner.

Come Jan 20, it will hold the 13th edition of its annual KKBox Music Awards in Taiwan, which is set to feature regional stars including Hong Kong Cantopop singer Eason Chan and Taiwanese singer-songwriter Crowd Lu. The awards will be broadcast live on Mediacorp's Channel U, Toggle and Yes 933 on Jan 20 at 7pm.

Music is an ecosytem, says KKBox's chief operation officer, Ms Josephine Cheng, which is why the service is dedicated to going beyond its online presence.

"Listening to music from your app or desktop computer is just one part of entertainment," she says in an interview with The Straits Times. "A lot of times, we find our users go to a lot of concerts and, if they like the artist, they want to have that physical experience."

KKBox counts 10 million users in the region, two million of whom are fans who pay for its premium service. The company did not reveal how many of these are from Singapore, but says its heavy users here spend an average of 206 minutes, or 75 songs, on KKBox in a day.

And while KKBox has also dabbled in physical, music-related products such as mugs with song lyrics printed on them, it is also considering putting out music in old-school, physical formats, including vinyl.

"It's interesting that vinyl records are something retro that is coming back. We are thinking of working with selected artist and labels and come up with vinyls for them."

Ms Cheng, marketing and content strategy vice-president Catherine Chien and South-east Asia managing director Andrew Ho were in Singapore to attend KKBox Singapore's fifth anniversary party at Castlery last week.

The event featured performances by local acts such as folk-pop duo The Freshman as well as SG:SW 2017 winners Jayden Koh and Elton Lee. The guests who attended include singer Alfred Sim and a cappella group MICappella.

KKBox has bigger plans in Singapore next year and will organise more shows, including large-scale ones, through the launch of its events arm, KKBox Live. It will also introduce its ticketing service, KKTix.

Says Ms Cheng: "Our core will still be the streaming music business, but we want to elevate our users' experience from just purely listening to streamed music to all kinds of live entertainment experiences as well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2017, with the headline 'KKBox goes from music streaming to live gigs'. Print Edition | Subscribe