GIC has invested US$104 million (S$130 million) in KKBOX, a provider of music streaming services in Asia, the two companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
Here's Digital Life Editor Oo Gin Lee's review of KKBOX and other available music streaming services:
Price: $9.90 per month (Premium member). Two months' worth free via StarHub's Music Anywhere service. Free trial of 7 days if your sign up using your Facebook account.
Platforms: iOS, Android
Library: Over 10 million songs
Bit-rate: 128 to 320kbps
- Strong library of Asian songs
- Good Chinese search engine
- Built-in lyrics
- No integration with music discovery apps
- Lack of integrated search
KKBox originates from Taiwan and is reputedly very strong in Asian content. I tested it only for Mandarin and Cantonese songs and was very impressed with the song libraries.
When I searched for Jacky Cheung and Jay Chou, dozens of albums are listed and it seems as if every song these superstars have ever produced is there. KKBox also came out tops in our shoot-out test on current Mandarin hits.
The best thing about KKBox is that it has lyrics built into the app. So you do not need a third-party app such as TuneWiki.
If you enjoy singing along, this is the best music streaming service for you. I was also very impressed with the overall user interface, which is smooth and fast. Songs that you search for are automatically added to your music library.
As with the other services, it also supports downloads for offline listening.
The search engine requires you to search by song title, artist or album and would have been better off using an integrated search. But searching for Mandarin songs was a breeze, unlike with the Amped service, which often required me to search for a song by looking for it under the singer's discography instead of doing a direct search.
I was expecting KKBox to be weak with English songs because of its Asian roots, but I was pleasantly surprised that it came up with every song title I asked for.
It seemed, based on my tests, that everything I could find on Amped and Deezer was also here.
KKBox beats Spotify hands down with its selection of songs in English. Andy Gibb, Michael Buble, Bruno Mars and Jason Mraz were all well represented. It even had music videos of popular numbers, such as Katy Perry's Roar and Ariana Grande's Almost Is Never Enough.
The service comes with a free seven-day trial but if you sign up for it via StarHub's Music Anywhere service (www.starhub.com/music), or the Music Anywhere app, you can get two months' worth free.
StarHub mobile users get the first two months free. Other users must pay for the first month but then get the second and third months free.
This was my favourite music service. Though I used it only for a week, I was very impressed.
Its only real weakness is the lack of integration with major discovery apps. So the Editor's Choice is Amped because it is free. Otherwise, KKBox may well have been my pick.