Since 2019, after Spotify found its way into the online music market in Vietnam, the user base has clearly been split between foreign platforms like Apple Music, MOOV, Spotify and domestic platforms such as Zing MP3, Nhaccuatui, Keeng among other sites.
In fact, the number of paid Vietnamese listeners is alarmingly low in comparison to number of actual users. “We usually put ad rolls in front of audio files if users choose the free option”, said Tran Quang Huy from Nhaccuatui’s copyright department.
Most Western users are willing to put in the bucks in exchange for premium sound quality, but most Vietnamese are not that demanding.
However, online advertising revenue for Vietnamese platforms are being squished as YouTube, Google and Facebook grow stronger. Other foreign platforms are also forced to compromise when faced with thrifty audience.
Good digital music providers cater to listeners not only in terms of providing exclusive songs but also in terms of song recommendations, made possible by algorithms that identify each person’s preferences.
Digital music services also have to take in daily numbers and recognize trending pieces on various social media.
According to a digital music provider, several countries in the region like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia have known of Vietnamese songs through digital music platforms, similar to how Chinese and Korean music surfaced about 10-15 years ago.
However, composer and music producer Hua Kim Tuyen expressed that most Westerners have no real interest in Vietnamese online music. “Once in a while there might be a unique or even outrageous music video that breaks people’s expectations, but that’s about it”, he said.
Nowadays, whether a new face in the music industry can find their footing or not depends heavily on online recognition. Their music will have to force its way onto leaderboards of music platforms or get top trending on YouTube.
In Korea or the US, new releases usually get featured on most prominent music services and there are unanimous ranking systems among those platforms, whereas in Vietnam some songs are exclusive to just one site. Each site also has their own ranking system that usually favors exclusive songs.
“There are quality productions that deserve wider recognition, but might not get featured on leaderboards at all because they’re not exclusive to those platforms”, Huy said.