Douban FM Launches Premium Subscription Service
Subscribers can enjoy high-fidelity and advertising-free music for only 10RMB ($1.6) per month or 50RMB ($8) for six months
Douban.com, one of China's top entertainment social networking sites, announced the launch of a subscription-based music service called "Douban FM Pro" as an alternative to its free streaming service. Subscribers can enjoy high-fidelity and advertising-free music for only 10RMB ($1.6) per month or 50RMB ($8) for six months. Douban attributed the paid offering to increasingly prohibitive bandwidth and licensing costs.
As China's government policies change towards copyright enforcement, 2013 is likely to be the year that China starts seeing the spread of paid music services. Douban FM, as one of the leading online music provider, has became the first to take the plunge. Most people in the music industry believe that more music sites such as Baidu and Sogou (recently taken off the US' "Notorious Markets List") are going to soon follow suit.
For the subscribers of Douban FM, attitudes expressed online towards the paid services seem to vary from person to person. Many criticized that the service's so-called high-fidelity music was only 192kbps instead of true high-fidelity at 320kbps. Others retorted they can always find free music from alternative sources online or even that the present advertisement-based system was not a real hinderance to enjoying the music. As since music can't be downloaded from the site, some argued that the additional cost was unjustified.
These comments contrasted with Douban's legion of loyal users, many of whom claimed to have already updated their account to the paid service. Since Douban FM is a personalized music service like Pandora, existing users are unlikely to make a change and start over on a new site which needs to relearn their preferences from scratch... or at least, that's what Douban will be hoping for. In any case, at the price for a cup of coffee (10RMB) per month, it can hardly be described as a hardship for true music lovers.