The Silicon Review
Remember the 1990s? When CDs were a rage? And everyone had a CD player? CDs were the main driving force for sales in the music market. But since the 1990s, the total sales in the music market have fallen by as much as 60%. This is mainly due to imperfections in the revenue sources when it comes to the CDs and the rise of streaming services.
Since a CD album provides tangible value, it still maintains a high price and is continuously sold to fans who want to connect emotionally with an artist. But the number of CD users is rapidly decreasing due to the disappearance of CD players. On the other hand, the number of users of streaming services is on the rise due to its inherent convenience. But the value of intangible digital content has lowered, limiting its sales power and it’s not really been able to cover the lost physical market.
In the current market situation, it is practically impossible to create market growth and reproduce the glory of the late 1990s again with only these two sources. The market desperately needs something new to recover the lost 40%. In order for any new medium to successfully carry out this mission, it will have to prove the value of compensating for the imperfections of two existing sources. That is, it should be able to provide two core values – tangibility and convenience – for use at the same time. In that case, it will be another new option along with CD albums and digital streaming in the market, and if it proves marketability, it will be possible to gradually expand the market area. KiT Album by MUZLIVE is the medium closest to the new value right now.
The KiT Album is creating a higher value as a third option in the music market beyond the utility of a physical medium by providing usage data analysis and a fan community. “I believe that KiT Album can become a new vaccine that will lead to a revival of the music market with CD album and streaming,” Joe Seok, CEO of MUZLIVE. In a brief interview with us, the CEO talked about MUZLIVE’s journey so far and how KiT Albums are revolutionizing the music industry and its sales. Read on for the excerpts from the interview.
Take us through the journey of the company right from its beginning to the point where it unwaveringly stands today.
MUZLIVE started developing a new physical music medium, KiT and dedicated services for the release of KiT Album at the end of 2015. KiT stands for Keep In Touch and expresses the identity of KiT Album, which aims to provide the value of holding and the emotional connection between fans and artists. And we released the first KiT Album in 2017, and so far we have released about 200 titles as KiT Album. KiT Album is a physical music product that is used with all kinds of smart devices, and provides not only artist’s music but also multi-contents such as videos and photos. And KiT Album provides the function for users to create and share self-music videos by recording their own voice on the original instrumental and mixing the video and fan-community for each artist also. In addition, KiT Album is providing content providers with highly added value and usage data analysis of physical record users, which previously could not be obtained through physical media such as vinyl, cassette tape and CD in the past.
We started our business by selling about 20,000 copies in the first year and now we are selling over 1 million copies a year. Currently, KiT Albums are used in 104 countries around the world, and 60% of users are global users. This year, the famous Japanese dance group J Soul Brothers released KiT Album, and in September, Snoop Dogg’s debut album, Doggystyle will be released as KiT Album in US. We plan to release more global artists’ album as KiT Albums in 2021.
Q. What was the motivation behind developing a dedicated advanced platform for listening to music?
I developed a new music service that applied a unique technology from 2007. But the service did not go on a successful path after launching a few years later. My attempt to create a new market with unique digital content service gave me very difficult days and valuable experiences at the same time. After that, I started to look at the content market from a slightly different perspective and I thought that the value of digital content is maximized when it is fused with physical elements. When I looked back at the music market from that point of view, I was surprised that the physical record market still exists meaningfully even now that streaming had become the mainstream, and I also came to realize that physical records were still produced as CD albums even though CD player was gone and people had smart devices in their hands. Eventually, I became convinced of the need for a new physical medium to deliver music, developed and supplied KiT Album. I am now proving that conviction.
Q. Whom do you give credit for your business success? Why?
I would like to thank Jason Park, our CTO, who completed KiT as a technically high-quality medium and implemented the dedicated services, and also our colleagues and investors who have been actively involved in creating a new market. Because I know that believing in the unseen and walking together is never easy.
Q. What are the factors that help your company to compete on a global platform?
We are in the business of providing a platform that maximizes the original value of content by increasing user value through KiT Album unlike many digital services. Our platform is a unique multi-platform that provides smart services while selling real products. In August of this year, KiTAlbum.com, an online platform that allows artists around the world to release content as KiT Album as easily as streaming, will be launched.
Walk us through the technology that made MUZLIVE possible.
We developed Encrypted Ultrasonic Wave Communication method, a proprietary communication protocol that provides security against piracy while communicating with all smart devices and applied it to KiT. Through the application of this protocol, KiT can communicate with all types of smart devices and run services of KiT Album with simple click without any pairing or activation process. And those methods are capitalized in various patents.
Q. What does innovation mean to MUZLIVE? How is the company keeping up as the music/communication landscape change?
We want to find innovation in the word integration, and we believe that it is our innovation to implement a platform that provides one integrated value to the music market divided into physical and digital. And it will create much greater value than when divided.
As the communication environment is advanced, we are going to release KiT Album that provides both audio and video unlike the existing CDs that delivery only audio and DVDs that deliver video. We are working to make KiT Album a new paradigm in the future music market.
Q. What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I’m trying to maintain competition and balance between organizations within the company for the stable operation internally and to detect changes in balance and order in the market to create new opportunities externally. And I’m also trying to read various books for my own growth.