Top 7 Korean Music Streaming Apps [2020]

This post covers the 7 most popular music apps in Korea.

I use them to find new Korean music in genres like K-pop.

I’ll highlight the unique features of each app too.

Let’s check them out!

Korean music streaming apps

Koreans love their apps. They have ones for learning languages, translation and every other occasion.

Like with K-pop, competition in the Korean music streaming market is getting fierce.

The first apps were conventional ones like Melon, Bugs and Genie.

Koreans love music

Now, emerging apps including Flo, Vibe and YouTube Red are fighting to gain market share.

Let’s take a look at the best Korean music apps by rank.

1. Melon (멜론)

Melon used to be the powerhouse of Korean music apps.

Its market share exceeded 60% for a long time, but it rapidly decreased to about 40%.

Melon lost the trust of some users over the ‘hoarding music (사재기 or sajaegi) controversy that manipulated chart rankings‘.

But, others say it’s because consumer patterns have shifted from ‘chart-oriented’ to ‘preference-oriented’.

Unique Features:

Melon Chart – Despite the controversy, this feature is what made Melon.

Its Hot Track shows trending music in your preferred genre.

For U – Reflects your preferences and creates mixes updated daily, weekly and monthly.

This feature also suggests similar artists or songs.

DJ Playlist – Power DJ carefully selects and updates high quality playlists every week.

2. Genie (지니)

Genie is great.

On top of a good selection, it has a real-time song chart.

Unique Features:

Editor Recommendations – Recommends selected songs within a theme.

Examples are refreshing city pop music like evening breeze, quiet voices whispering in your ear, heavy metal moments you need to hear.

Genie TV – Mainly features music videos and music-related Mnet TV shows.

Music Hug – A new service by Genie.

It allows users to listen to music while chatting with friends.

3. Flo (플로)

Flo is the future.

It curates music based on your favorite genre or artist, and provides AI-based customized service.

According to some reviews, Flo doesn’t have enough data yet for proper curating.

But, it’s still pretty new and hopefully things improve.

Unique Features:

Flo Chart – Flo also features Top 100.

But, this function is optional, so you can either love it or leave it.

Situation –Recommends music by TPO (Time, Place and Occasion – Koreans use this abbreviation a lot).

You can select music by situation like driving, studying/reading, commuting, working out, taking a stroll/traveling, or relaxing.

Ambience – Flo features music by ambience.

You can choose the mood, such as exciting, calm, comforting, sad, sweet, or dreamy.

4. Vibe (바이브)

Vibe is all about giving back.

Its motto is 내돈내듣, which is short for 내가 낸 돈은 내가 듣는 음악에, meaning “the money I paid goes to the music I listened to”.

It distributes money back to artists according to how many times you listen to each song.

Vibe believes that this campaign can end chart manipulation and music hoarding.

Unique Features:

Mix Tape – Lets you select artists and receive a mix tape every day.

DJ Station – Features stations by feeling.

Categories include popular now, hip, fun, sad, love, focused, spacing out, working out, partying and so on.

VIBE MAG – Just like a music magazine.

It shares interviews with artists, stories about artists with recommended songs, etc.

5. Bugs (벅스)

Bugs is all about the experience.

It’s known for its pretty design and interaction with artists.

Unique Features:

Music Post – Blog posts about music.

It even teaches English using pop songs.

Connect – Connect Story is written by artists. This is where you can actually connect with artists.

It’s like a Twitter where musicians can show gratitude to fans, or announce new releases.

Radio – Bugs features radio stations like podcasts. You can subscribe and listen to them whenever you want.

6. YouTube Premium (Red)

The new kid on the block, who’s not that new.

In addition to Korean apps, YouTube Premium (Red) is getting popular.

Unique Features:

Downloads – store your favorite songs on your devices for flights or road trips.

Background play – One of the most underrated features. It lets you run Youtube in the background of your device (smartphone addicts rejoice!).

Unlimited music – Listen to your heart’s content. Some of the songs aren’t officially released too.

Also, their service is ad-free.

7. Spotify

Needs no introduction.

Spotify is planning to launch in Korea.

Although it’s not there yet, people are waiting on pins and needles.

For the more ad-tolerant, you can listen to Spotify for free. If you don’t mind hearing the same commercial every 10 minutes.

Unique Features:

Privacy Mode – Make sure no one knows about your guilty pleasures by keeping songs secret.

I hope you enjoyed this list of cool streaming apps.

Hopefully, users will be able to enjoy more options. And artists can get paid for their creations.

Feel free to share your favorite K-pop artist or music streaming app in the comments!

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