We recently wrote about how 2013 was likely to be the year that China faced up to paid music subscriptions. And, lo and behold, yesterday Douban.com, China’s top interests-based social network, rolled out Douban.fm premium services for paid music streaming.
A representative of Beijing-based Douban explained to TechinAsia today that the paid service brings 192Kbps ad-free music streaming to subscribers, but the social network will keep music free for those who’ll put up with the normal adverts. The premium offering costs just 10 RMB (US$1.60) to try out for a month, or 50 RMB ($8) to get it for six months
a whole year.
He adds that Douban is keeping an open mind about anticipated uptake of the paid option on its music platform (i.e. no specific monetization targets – or none that can be revealed), and the team will observe users’ behavior within the premium product so it can be fine-tuned.
Douban.fm first launched in November 2009, and can be streamed from the website or within its apps for iPad (pictured), iPhone, Android, WP, and Symbian. In a Chinese-language blog post, Douban explains that a higher quality music stream with no ads is the perfect experience for music fans, but prohibitive bandwidth and licensing costs mean that a paid music sub is the best solution for now. It seems that Douban, which first came to life in 2005 and now has over 50 million registered users, is being very cautious with its pricing, putting
a full year six months at not much more than it costs for one massive frappucino at a certain coffee chain beloved of Chinese consumers.
The hobby-oriented social network – which launched an e-bookstore this time last year – is up against music services from huge Chinese portals such as Baidu and Sogou. Plus there are more specialist startups like the Grooveshark-esque Jing.fm, or the Last.fm-like Xiami to contend with.
Douban users can go pro on this Douban FM upgrade page.