The CEO of Smart Axiata Cambodia talks about the company’s recently created partnership with Universal Music, which gives Smart the exclusive rights for Universal Music’s entire catalogue in Cambodia, in particular for subscribers to ring-back tones, downloads or streaming
What can you tell us about the deal between Universal Music Group and Smart Axiata?
Smart and Universal have been teaming up in Cambodia around music, entertainment and lifestyle. Universal is the biggest music company in the world, and Smart is the second biggest telco here in Cambodia. We’re bringing all the Universal music content to Cambodia, firstly for Smart subscribers – ring-back tones, streaming, music-video downloads. Basically, we’re talking about digital content. Obviously, intellectual property rights (IPR) are not very well developed here in Cambodia, so this is the first example of a major intellectual-property business coming here and saying, alright, Cambodia is a market we can do business in. We will also be working on Universal’s behalf to work out any other problems there might be here in terms of broadcasting Universal’s content.
What does it mean for Smart subscribers?
It means unrivalled access to music. We’re moving away from simply price for services and more towards offering a lifestyle.
How will it work as a service? Will these digital offerings be pay-as-you-go, or will they be offered on a subscription basis?
Ring-back services and ringtones will be pay-as-you-go. We already have a music streaming service available. What we’re working on – and it will be available later in the year – is an app-based portal. You’ll literally be able to subscribe to it and listen to the music, as well as download music and music videos. Just how the portal will work is subject to open dialogue with Universal about what will work best for the Cambodian market. It’s up to the partnership to shape the model for the platform. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all template for a portal – issues such as price barriers need to be considered.
Do you see deals such as the one you are doing now with Universal, and the other you completed recently with Apple, as an endorsement of Cambodia as having moved on from its ‘Wild West’ market reputation?
For sure. It’s a sign that Cambodia is developing in the right way. To be sure, a lot of work still needs to be done in the area of IPR protection, but the fact that Universal and Apple are now here is a sign that the Cambodian market is moving in the right direction, and that it’s population of 15 million people is becoming increasingly tech-savvy. They are ready to enjoy digital content just as other countries in the region do.