Jul 082013

MANILA, Philippines – Smart Communications Inc. of dominant carrier Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) has tied up with recording giant MCA Music Inc. to provide over 70 million mobile subscribers with online music service and at the same time combat rampant piracy in the country that cost the industry over P2 billion in revenue losses per year.

Smart executive vice president and head of wireless consumer business Charles Lim told reporters in a press conference that the three-year tie up with MCA Music is a vital part of the PLDT Group’s multimedia strategy.

 “We will rapidly grow our multimedia content offerings in the next few months.  What better way to jumpstart this effort than by offering what’s close to the hearts of Filipinos – music,” Lim stressed.

He pointed out that the partnership hopes to increase the share of digital music in the total P700-million industry in the Philippines to about 60 percent to 70 percent over the next two years from the current level of about 40 percent.

He said the partnership with Universal Music Group (UMGI) and its local company MCA Music would enrich the lives of Smart subscribers by democratizing access to legitimate music and enabling them to keep creating the playlists of their lives in fast, easy and affordable way.

UMGI president for Southeast Asia Sandy Montero said the “game-changing” partnership is a first in the world between Smart and MCA Music, making more than three million tracks in MCA Music’s  global catalog exclusively available to the over 70 million subscribers of Smart and the other mobile brands under the PLDT group, Talk ‘N Text and Sun Cellular.

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Montero said Smart would start offering content from MCA Music at very affordable rates and convenient terms through “Smart Music”, its new online music portal which instantly becomes the largest digital store of its kind in the country.

Smart Music is offering music downloads for as low as P15 per track while new releases would be sold at P20 each track. This is roughly half the comparable rates of other online music stores such as iTunes that is offering $0.99 or about P40 per song.

Moreover, Montero said in an interview with The STAR that losses of the music industry due to piracy amount to about 80 percent to 90 percent of potential revenues or over P2 billion per year.

He pointed out that he hopes that the partnership with Smart would help recover at least 20 percent of the potential losses.

 “We want to change the whole structure of the music industry in the Philippines,” he stressed.

The US government through the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) has kept the Philippines on a list of countries subject to trade sanctions due to continuous violation of intellectual property rights (IPR).

The Philippines joined 29 other countries in the 2013 Special 301 Watch List: Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Placed on the higher-level Priority Watch List were 10 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela.

For his part, MCA Music president Ricky Ilacad said UMGI and MCA Music are excited to bring their extensive roster of global and local artists closer to every Filipino music lover.

 “With the number of subscribers Smart has across the country, we’re virtually rolling out millions of retail outlets right in the hands of our consumers,” he said.

MCA Music boasts of a music catalog that spans multiple genres across several eras. The record company carries in its labels some of the world’s most popular music superstars like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, U2, Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, and more.

MCA Music also carries the license to music’s classic collections like the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Motown catalogs.

Locally, the MCA Music roster is being headlined by artists like Ely Buendia and his bands Pupil and The Oktaves, Sitti, Nyoy Volante, Urbandub, Franco, ChicoSci and more.

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