CHINA // INDUSTRY NEWS

// editor’s note

Some articles in this month’s newsletter are a few months old, I’m including them because they are great resources and still hold value to my readers in terms of understanding the overall music industry in China and it’s future outlook.

New readers, please note, this is NOT your typical weekly roundup of China tech headlines, these stories are carefully selected for people active in the music scene, and all comments are my own. Please share this email if you enjoy it! If you were forwarded this newsletter, please subscribe here.

// BYE-BYE “ALIBABA’S MUSIC-STREAMING PLATFORM”

Few would be shocked to hear the news that Xiami Music might be shutting down, it’s quite telling that every news source covering it labels it as “Alibaba’s xxx”, as Alibaba is a huge internationally recognized name, and few outside China know what Xiami is. It’s been around for years, but has been overshadowed by Tencent and NetEase as of late. These rumors have also been around China for some time, but are getting press now as other tech publications are discussing it.

The shame here is that there is a great community on Xiami centered around indie rock and other underground scenes, including many local Chinese bands and and self-released content. Reminds me a bit of the old days of MySpace in that regard, though I hope that its users are able to collect their data before any ‘server errors’ occur.

Further Reading:

TechinAsia // Alibaba’s streaming platform to reportedly shut down in Jan 2021

Music Ally // Rumours swirl in China about future of Alibaba’s Xiami

// NETEASE & TENCENT ATTRACT INDIE ARTISTS

While both companies have been involved in very public attempts to secure international artists and copyrights, they are both renewing efforts to convert local Chinese artists into users of their platforms. I’m joyed to see this news, I’ve long argued China needs better ecosystems for promoting young talent; in my opinion this is in many ways starting at the end, and I hope that the country does more with music education, government support, and live production that can encourage growth in this sector.

Advice for smaller international acts: find a way to collaborate with indie artists to tap into their follow base on these platforms. Electronic producers can get local remixers and vocals for Chinese versions, bands can look for collabs or split EPs to boost their profile. Headline acts have been doing this for years.

Further Reading:

MBW // The Independent Artist Market Is Exploding In China – With Netease And Tencent Battling

// LIVE STREAMING NEWS

Lightning round! A quick list of cool streaming developments in China:

  • Tencent invests in Wave platform // Read: Music Ally
  • NetEase expands their own LOOK streaming app and integration
  • Huya and Douyu combine // Read: my last newsletter 😉
  • Other big players who are growing continuously: Bilibili, Douyin, and Weibo’s streaming functions
// TENCENT’S PLANS FOR MUSIC INDUSTRY DOMINATION

For those of us in the industry in China, Tencent vs. NetEase is the battle of the titans, that has played out over years via licensing deals, deep strategy involving high-level artists, and most recently user acquisition and the push to increase paying users. In Tencent’s case this seems mostly a method of increasing TME’s share values, which has largely stayed flat since it’s IPO in late 2018.

MIDiA’s recent article ‘Just what is Tencent’s Endgame?’ does a great job highlighting some of these strategies, first by highlighting just how many different business they are involved in, and their investments in others both in China and abroad. Even more recently, they had a massive contest to form a compilation album which features folk musicians from around China singing in their own regional dialects, a fantastic project which falls in line with the company’s stereotype of being focused on the local market and its artists.

Further Reading:

MIDia Music Industry Blog // Just what is Tencent’s Endgame?

Music Ally // 300k listeners voted on the songs for Tencent Music’s new compilation

// SCMP REPORT ON CHINA’S INTERNET TRENDS

South China Morning Post reported recently on China’s overall internet numbers. The numbers are not unexpected, but highlight the rise of China’s middle class, overall number of internet-available homes, and the continued rise of mobile for all citizens.

  • 63% of China’s 1.4 Billion population is online, near equal numbers are using mobile internet, and more than half are using mobile payments
  • Click through the report for a full outline of leading apps in China, including music, video, shopping, and more, and their foreign equivalents
  • Average internet use per day is over 7 hours
  • The biggest growth demographic from 2019 was in 40+ age range [the music apps are currently in my opinion largely a younger demographic, so this is a welcome statistic that implies further growth in our industry as well]
  • E-learning has seen a massive expansion in addition to the expected growth points
  • “Live-streaming in China has evolved from a niche market to an ecommerce channel to a multifaceted content tool now also adopted by traditional industries.”

Further Reading:

SCMP // China Internet Report 2020


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