Which music app do Koreans use?

South Korea has a vibrant music industry and music is an important part of Korean culture. Koreans love listening to music on their smartphones and music streaming apps are widely used. Some of the most popular music apps in South Korea include Melon, Genie, Bugs, Flo, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Spotify and Pandora. Each music app has its own unique features and caters to different user preferences. For example, Melon and Genie focus on Korean music while Spotify and Apple Music have more international music. This article provides an overview of the major music streaming apps used by Koreans.


According to a January 2024 survey by Ipsos Mori reported on Statista, Melon remains the most popular music streaming service in South Korea. Roughly 32.8% of respondents reported that they use Melon most frequently to stream and download music (Korean music streaming services frequently used 2023). Despite its top position in overall popularity, Melon’s market share is declining. In 2021, Melon accounted for 34.6% of the market; this dropped to 32.8% by early 2024. The same Ipsos survey found that YouTube Music was gaining ground on Melon. Still, Melon occupies a leading position in South Korea due to its large catalog of K-pop and its longstanding history in the country.


Genie is the second most popular music streaming app in South Korea, holding around 19.24% market share as of 2022 according to research. While not as widely used as Melon, Genie still enjoys a sizeable userbase thanks to its large library of K-pop and other Korean music. Some key features that make Genie popular include its online karaoke service, music charts, and recommendations based on user listening data. As a long-time player in South Korea’s music streaming industry, Genie has built up a reputation as a go-to source for the latest Korean hits and deep cuts from veteran artists. Though facing stiff competition from YouTube Music and Flo, Genie retains a loyal following among music fans seeking a robust domestic streaming option.


Bugs is another popular music streaming service in South Korea, holding around 15% market share as of 2016 according to a survey by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) [1]. It is owned by Kakao, the company behind the hugely popular KakaoTalk messaging app in Korea.

Bugs has a large catalog of K-pop, Korean indie music, and international music. It offers both a free ad-supported tier and a premium subscription without ads. Some key features include personalized recommendations, playlists, music charts, and radio stations.

As part of the Kakao ecosystem, Bugs integrate well with KakaoTalk allowing users to share music and interact with friends. This integration and Kakao’s strong brand in Korea have helped drive adoption of Bugs.


Flo is a popular music streaming app in South Korea developed by SK Telecom. According to a report by Statista, Flo had around 14.3 million monthly active users in South Korea as of January 2022.

One of the key focuses of Flo is hip-hop music. They have licensing deals with major Korean hip-hop labels like AOMG and H1GHR MUSIC. Flo also produces original hip-hop content like concerts, competitions, and exclusive releases. This focus on the hip-hop genre has helped attract younger demographics to the platform.

In addition to streaming, Flo offers digital music downloads, karaoke features, and live streaming of concerts and music shows. While not the largest music app in Korea in terms of market share, Flo has carved out a niche with its specialization in hip-hop and focus on creating unique content experiences.

Apple Music

Apple Music is a global music streaming service developed by Apple. Since its launch in 2015, it has grown to be one of the most popular music streaming platforms in the world, with over 90 million subscribers as of 2022 (Source).

In South Korea, Apple Music has seen steady growth, especially amongst iOS device users. According to a 2022 report, Apple Music users made up 7.3% of the music streaming market in South Korea, with continued growth expected (Source). The intuitive integration with iOS devices and Apple’s brand loyalty amongst their user base contributes to the popularity of Apple Music.

Apple Music offers a library of over 90 million songs, expert-curated playlists, and integration with Apple devices like iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV. South Korean users can access a robust catalog of K-pop and Korean indie music. For iOS users in South Korea looking for a seamless music streaming experience across Apple devices, Apple Music presents an appealing option.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music has emerged as the most popular music streaming platform among younger demographics in South Korea. According to a 2022 Statista report, the largest group of YouTube Music users in South Korea were women in their 20s, accounting for about 13.3% of users. YouTube Music’s popularity with younger listeners has allowed it to surpass Melon as the top music streaming platform in the country for the first time in late 2022, as reported by AllKpop. Factors driving YouTube Music’s growth include its integration with YouTube video streaming and appeal to digitally native younger users.


Spotify is a large global music streaming service that has been growing in South Korea over the past couple years. Spotify entered the Korean market in February 2021 and has seen steady growth since then, although local services like Melon still dominate the market. As of February 2022, one year after launch, Spotify reported reaching over 5 million monthly active users in South Korea (source).

While Spotify has a smaller user base compared to services like Melon in Korea, it provides a gateway for K-pop artists to reach a global audience. K-pop groups like BTS, BLACKPINK, (G)I-DLE and others have gained millions of Spotify listeners worldwide through the platform’s recommendations and playlists (source). As Spotify grows in Korea, it can help boost Korean artists and their international fandom.


Pandora is a popular music streaming service originating from the United States. However, it has seen limited adoption in South Korea compared to domestic music apps. Pandora launched in South Korea in 2014, but has struggled to gain significant market share against entrenched competitors like Melon, Genie, Bugs, and Flo (Reuters).

As an international service, Pandora has focused on providing a huge library of international music rather than catering specifically to K-pop and Korean pop culture. While Pandora has over 80 million songs in its global catalog, local Korean music services are more tailored to Korean listener preferences and have advantages in promoting K-pop artists. Pandora’s limited free streaming tier also makes it less appealing compared to the unlimited free streaming offered by apps like Melon.

Overall, while Pandora operates in South Korea, its adoption and market share significantly trails behind locally developed music apps like Melon, Genie, Bugs, and Flo. Pandora has not gained a strong foothold in South Korea due to stiff competition from entrenched domestic players.


In conclusion, the most popular music apps used by Koreans are Melon, Genie, Bugs, Flo, and YouTube Music. According to surveys, Melon is the most widely used music app, likely due to its early launch in 2004 and strong domestic catalog. However, international services like YouTube Music, Spotify, and Apple Music are gaining popularity, especially among younger users. Some key trends we’re seeing are the rise of streaming and decline of downloads, with Melon transitioning to focus more on streaming. Additionally, K-pop and Korean music are driving more interest in music apps tailored to the Korean market. While Melon remains dominant for now, we may continue to see shifts in music consumption and app preferences as user behavior evolves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *