Japanese messaging app Line, which boasts more than 205 million active users worldwide, announced the debut of a subscription service in its second-biggest market on Thursday. Line Music is getting a trial launch in Thailand and will live in the company’s flagship app, allowing users to listen to songs and share them with friends through private and/or group chats.
It’s unclear how many songs are currently available to subscribers in Thailand, where the app has about 33 million active users. At a launch event in Bangkok that featured visits from a happy bunny and a pensive bear*, Line announced it had reached a licensing agreement with Thai label group RS Music for at least 10,000 songs. Line’s head of music, Lim Suk-jun, told the Bangkok Post that the service also has deals with labels including BEC-Tero, Spicydisc and What the Duck, among others.
The big get for Line, however, would be label group GMM Grammy and its 14 imprints, which combined are said to dominate 70-80 percent of the music industry in the country.
The in-app purchase of Line Music costs 60 Thai Baht per month (roughly $1.80 USD) — with the first 30 days free if people sign up before Nov. 20. For that, users will get unlimited downloads of all the available tracks.
The new service is Line’s attempt to introduce the idea of digital streaming to its biggest territories, which have been slow to embrace the format. In Japan (Line’s home country) physical sales still comprise 78 percent of the market, and while Thailand is growing — subscription streams totaled $9.3 million last year, up from $8.8 million — it is still comparatively small. As Techcrunch points out, Deezer is the lone international streaming service currently in Thailand.
“As Thailand is Line’s biggest market outside Japan, we are pushing hard to bring diverse content and services that fit the lifestyles of Line users here,” Lim said, adding, “We hope our music streaming service can provide another channel to stimulate Thailand’s music industry.”
Line hasn’t announced where the streaming service will expand to next, though Japan shouldn’t be too far off. In December the company secured licensing deals with Sony Music and Avex Digital in Japan.
In late April, Line Corporation released first quarter earnings showing revenue at 28.1 billion Japanese yen, up 9 percent over the previous quarter and 70 percent up from the same time last year. A majority of that quarterly take — 28.1 billion yen — was generated by the Line app.
*Meet Brown the (not-sold-on-streaming?) bear and Cony the (down-for-whatever) bunny, popular characters in Line games.