MelOn Is No longer The Most Used Streaming Service In South Korea… But Who Took Its Place?

MelOn’s user base did grow — rising to 4.59 million — but this increase pales in comparison to a brand new contender.

In recent years, MelOn has stood atop the summit of South Korean streaming platforms, widely acknowledged as the go-to service for music lovers across the country. However, a closer examination of 2023’s user statistics reveals a surprising twist: MelOn is no longer the reigning champion in the South Korean streaming battle. So who has taken its throne?

| Melon

A glance at this year’s figures shows MelOn’s user base did grow — rising from 4.5 million in 2022 to 4.59 million in 2023. Yet, this increase pales in comparison to a brand new contender, which saw its user numbers leap from 4 million in 2022 to a whopping 5.12 million in 2023. Shocking many K-Pop enthusiasts, YouTube Music now claims that title.

| YouTube

This overtaking by YouTube’s service underscores the global platform’s increasing dominance not just on international soil but in South Korea’s own backyard. While MelOn saw an increase of 90,000 users from last year, YouTube Music enjoyed 1.12 million others joining the platform.

Several factors might account for these shifts. One cannot discuss these changes without considering user interface and subscription prices. The seamless integration of YouTube videos into their music platform, coupled with often competitive subscription rates, gives YouTube Music an edge. 

MelOn users have to pay ₩10,900 KRW (about $8.34 USD) per month to use the streaming and offline playback features. YouTube Music’s service fee is ₩8,690 KRW (about $6.65 USD) per month, but if you pay ₩10,500 KRW (about $7.99 USD), you have access to YouTube Premium as well. 

Music enthusiasts today don’t just want to listen — they want to watch, react, and share. The platform’s interactive interface and vast catalog cater to these desires.

Further supporting this trend, another non-domestic platform has seen a leap in users. Spotify’s user base in South Korea has grown from 410,000 in 2022 to 630,000 in 2023. Known for its user-friendly interface and personalized playlists, Spotify has been capitalizing on these strengths while also offering attractive subscription packages, further enticing South Korean listeners.

| Spotify

Local platforms, however, didn’t fare as well. Genie Music, FLO, VIBE, Kakao Music, and Bugs all experienced a decline in user numbers. While these platforms offer rich libraries of Korean music, users might be finding their interfaces less intuitive or their subscription prices less competitive compared to international juggernauts like YouTube Music and Spotify.

| Genie Music

Genie Music’s user base shrunk from 2.31 million to 2.03 million. FLO’s numbers dipped from 1.51 million to 1.28 million, VIBE from 1.13 million to 1 million, while both Kakao Music and Bugs also saw a marginal decline.


It’s speculated that the downturn for some of these platforms may be due to a combination of factors: increased competition, evolving music consumption habits, and perhaps even challenges in content curation in the face of global competitors.

Some users might find the playlists and recommendations from international platforms more in tune with their diversified listening habits, which now encompass genres from across the globe.

| Spotify

That said, MelOn, with its legacy and deep-rooted connection to Korean music culture, will undoubtedly remain a force to be reckoned with. The changes we’re witnessing may be emblematic of a larger shift, where global platforms fine-tune their local offerings while local platforms must adapt and innovate to retain their audience.

Source: Shindonga