Russians Will Be Getting a Steep Discount on Apple Music

Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An employee handles an Apple Inc. iPad tablet on display inside a re:Store premium Apple reseller in Moscow, Russia on Oct. 3, 2013.

Although the monthly subscription fee for Apple Music in Russia is reportedly going to be around $3 -- much lower than the already announced $9.99 fee for the US market -- the company might have a problem persuading Russian customers, used to free streaming, to pay even that little.

The Russian business daily Vedomosti reported that Russia will be among 100 countries where Apple's streaming service will be launched later this month, and the monthly subscription fee will be 169 rubles ($3.01).

Apple has not yet specified when the service will be available in Russia and what pricing will be. The company's Russian office did not respond to Billboard's request for comment.

Russia's best known streaming service, Yandex.Music, is available for free on desktop and laptop computers and at a monthly fee of 149 rubles ($2.70) on mobile devices. Google Play Music is available at a monthly fee of 189 rubles ($3.40).

Meanwhile, a source in the Russian music industry told Billboard that persuading users to pay event a minimal fee in a market dominated by free streaming, could be challenging.

"None of the streaming services that are present in the Russian market had a proper marketing campaign that would explain benefits of the service to users," he said. "Users, especially young people, prefer to stream music for free using [the social networking website] VKontakte. So, it is all about coming up with an attractive offer that will make young people pay for streaming music."

"One interesting thing is that Apple Music will be available as an app for Android devices," he added, explaining that Android-based smartphones are much more popular in Russia than iOS-based devices and also much more affordable, with a cheap Android smartphone retailing at 1,600 rubles ($29), a fraction of the cheapest iPhone's retail price.

Incidentally, earlier this year, VKontakte removed an option for streaming user-uploaded music from its iPad and iPhone applications, but the option is still available on apps for Android devices. Rights holders have repeatedly complained about VKontakte's streaming option, and the company is reportedly in negotiations with labels about replacing user-generated tracks with legitimate content.