News — May 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

The Flipside: Should We Give Up on Consumers of Developing Countries Paying for Music?


Esther Nguyen

It’s hard enough persuading your friends to your own shows these days, imagine the horrors of convincing strangers that your music is worth the purchase. Or worse, the complexities of getting people living in developing countries to kindly set aside some of their hard-earned dollars to support your art which, contrary to many an opinion, is considered secondary amongst the other fundamental human needs. Yes music is an essential part of social and cultural life, however, for some, supporting an illegitimate cause may be the only way to satisfy that need. Music piracy is a still a striving industry and it is alarming that 70% of online users find nothing wrong with online piracy.

Is it time to give up on consumers of developing countries to pay for music? Esther Nguyen, CEO of leading multimedia entertainment company in Vietnam, POPS Worldwide discusses.

POPS Worldwide Logo

Esther Nguyen
CEO, POPS Worldwide

It’s not time to give up; it’s a time to fight harder. Over five years ago POPS entered into the Vietnamese market and has been on a charge ever since to educate artists and key players in the music industry. It’s been a slow process with minimal progress. However, as an entrepreneur, I tend to be more of an optimist, so I still believe there is a chance for artists to expect users to pay for downloads or at least for artists to get paid through different kinds of business models.

In order for this to happen there are a few things that have to happen with a concerted effort. First, we have to shut down online websites that offer free illegal downloads like Zing MP3 here in Vietnam. These illegal download sites aren’t going to disappear or start charging users unless they feel the pressure from advertisers, the government and artists. Samsung and Coca-Cola led the way last year by pulling their advertising dollars from Zing MP3 due to illegal music downloads, and hopefully more will follow suit.

Secondly, legitimate music platforms have to make more of a push into the market. POPS launched with iTunes for a localized store in Vietnam last June, however, unfortunate to say, iTunes has made poor efforts in marketing their service and offering alternative payment options.

And lastly, we need the artists to fight back on these illegal music sites, educate their fans, and promote a legitimate place to download or stream their music. There are some influential artists already spearheading the way. Hopefully we’ll see more artists follow.

Every developing market is different with their own unique challenges. Giving up isn’t an option, just finding what works for the market, being flexible and working together as an industry just may push their efforts along.



Official Site


Esther Nguyen’s entry is part of a two-part perspective on the topic. Want to know where the opinions of Sriram Krishnan of Spotify lies? Watch this space.