One billion downloads later, Amanotes is optimistic about the future of non-streaming music platform

Amanotes Founders, Bill Vo & Silver Nguyen

Amanotes caught our attention with its unique premise: Offering a platform for music-infused games to reach out to its audiences. Even more interesting, the company hails from Vietnam, a blossoming tech ecosystem which may not be known for its music scene.

The startup creates and publishes what the company calls “music-infused apps” for its users to interact with music and develop their music passion. In addition to developing its own games, Amanotes also works with game developers around the world to co-develop and publish these games.

To add to the fun, Amanotes ensures that all of its games are free to play.

“We monetise through showing ads, in-app purchases, and subscriptions. This allows us to cater to the needs of different users segment: some are there just to kill a few minutes per week, some are trying to get the most of it with accesses to new hit music, unique designs, and so on,” says Amanotes COO Bryan Teo.

e27 connects with Teo to talk about the journey of the music gaming app, and how to appeal to the mass with such a specific product.

“Everyone can music”

“Amanotes has the vision that ‘everyone can music’, where music is a verb and not a noun,” says Teo. The reason behind choosing games with strong musical elements, Teo says, had a lot to do on how games can better appeal to people and be understood with ease.

“We choose music games as the first step towards reaching this vision, as games have mass appeal and are easy to understand.”

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The strategy seemed to be working as the company has reached one billion copies of its games, making it the largest Music Games company globally, featured in the top Game charts of App Store and Google Play Store worldwide.

Unlikely origin

Some of the more popular music apps come in the form of streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. To come up with yet another streaming service is something that would present a greater challenge even when it is done right; simply because the industry itself has been too crowded.

In Southeast Asia alone, there are several other locally-grown music streaming apps, from Indonesia’s Me-Lody to Thailand’s Fungjai. Having a gamified, interactive approach to music apps is a breath of fresh air.

“We dive into a new category with Amanotes, providing interactive music apps on mobile phones, and obviously, it needs more marketing and education to reach the mass audiences, but this is not only a challenge for the Vietnamese market but also for the world,” says Teo.

Amanotes’ specialty is the combination of casual gameplay with high quality of sounds and visual effects. “Our differentiation would be the infusion of quality music into the interactive entertainment available on our app, allowing for users to enjoy music while staying engaged and entertained,” said Teo.

While Vietnam may not be your go-to-market for music, its gaming tech scene is flourishing.

“I believe we’re in the hub of mobile gaming. Vietnam is not an exclusion in this booming mobile gaming trend. Statista reported a 22 per cent YoY increase of mobile game revenue in Vietnam from 2019, this shows an incredible opportunity for Vietnam to breakthrough and lead the region in the near future,” said Teo.

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With the right approach, the startup believes it can tap into even bigger markets by combining the music and gaming lovers into one ecosystem.

A complete musical experience

According to Teo, Amanotes aims to deliver a complete musical experience.

“This requires us to invest in our music resources. We work closely with major labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, and Warner Music Group to obtain licencing rights to songs. Our team also pays attention to song charts and works with rising artists to sort out licences to use in our games,” says Teo.

Musical experience is only complete when it is not shadowed by piracy concerns, and Amanotes wants to make sure to do their homework.

“Keeping our vision and our players in mind, our licensing team works hard to expand and diversify our music library. The song database that we currently possess is also thanks to established corporate branding and positive feedback from existing partners,” explains Teo.

Continuous listening to feedback

As the company ventures into a fresh territory of interactive music gaming apps, it highlights the effort put into understanding its users.

“We strive to know what the customers want, and find what’s the best way to reach them,” Teo stresses.

Teo noted that the success of their apps, after all, is because “music is a universal language.”

“No matter where you are from or how old you are, everyone will have at least one or two songs stuck in their head. Now imagine what you can do with your favourite tunes rather than just listening or humming to it? This is where Amanotes comes in with music-centric gaming apps, which millions of people can simply tap, hold, and drag to interact with the hottest songs,” he elaborates.

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As a result, every month, the company claimed that its music apps are played by almost 100 million users from 191 countries.

What’s next

After reaching such a significant milestone, the company said that it will continue to invest and expand its product offerings.

“One thing for certain, the growth for mobile gaming kept and will keep on rising over the years. A market report showed a 17 per cent increase of 2019 year-over-year mobile games downloads,” Teo says.

The market is also primed with different monetisation opportunities. “In addition, we also recognised the evolution towards diversified monetisation fields in this industry. To further engage and create extra value for our loyal customers, Amanotes introduced a subscription model in our games through purchasing bundle packages,” Teo explains.

With the rising download they experienced in the past months due to COVID-19 pandemic’s social distancing policy, the company also noticed the shifts in user behaviour. In addition to weekends, users have also begun playing on weekdays.

The situation worked in their favour as per June, the company rakes in an MAU of 95 million users and DAU of 15 million users.

As for what is coming next, Teo says that the market remains exciting. “I believe we’re in the hub of mobile gaming. In fact, NewZoo reported Southeast Asia to be the fastest-growing region in mobile games in 2019. There are many localised game products from Chinese publishers (PUBG published by VNG for the Vietnamese market) as well as original titles (Free Fire from Sea Group) that contributed to the massive US$4.6 billion gaming revenue.”

Image Credit: Amanotes

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