Technology firm Sabay intends to launch a paid-per download music service in Cambodia, partnering with domestic mobile phone companies to challenge the Kingdom’s free download market.
The IT entertainment firm has signed a deal to become the sole distributor in Cambodia and Vietnam for a catalogue of Korean pop music hits, making more than 50 albums from popular acts such as Rain and JQT available to users of mobile phones, according to Sabay chief operations officer Mike Gaertner.
The online store, which enables music tracks to be downloaded to mobiles, will be launched on October 22, when popular Korean group JQT will be flown in for a concert.
Although music piracy - which has led millions to download music for free worldwide - was a concern for distribution, Gaertner said the firm would rely on competitive pricing to combat unauthorised downloading.
“For mobile downloads, we hope prices will be attractive enough that people will not bother with piracy,” he said.
Music downloads will be available from around 30 to 50 US cents when the store launches, and 50 to 60 cents for ring tones, Gaertner said.
A large share of sales are expected to be ringback tones – the songs played after dialing but before a call was answered – which will be hosted by mobile providers.
Agreements have been signed with Metfone, Hello, Smart Mobile and Beeline, and negotiations are ongoing with the Kingdom’s other mobile providers.
The music store will require Sabay to reach deals with each of Cambodia’s nine mobile providers for users of each network to access the service, which Gaertner said was the “biggest obstacle” for the store.
The company was also looking to expand beyond its Korean catalogue, and was eyeing collaborations with Chinese and American firms, he said.
“We are trying to build up legal music,” he said, though it could be a challenge to convince some that Cambodia was a worthwhile partner given concerns with regard to counterfeiting.
Cambodian law presently recognizes intellectual property rights for only goods produced in Cambodia, but the situation may change after 2013 when the Berne Convention takes effect in the Kingdom. That agreement will “automatically protect” rights, according to Var Roth San, director of the Intellectual Property Department at the Ministry of Commerce.
Sabay is known for its popular online game Justice X Wars II, but according to Gaertner has always intended to branch into other online products.