CHINA // INDUSTRY NEWS
// TENCENT MUSIC FINED, FORCED TO END EXCLUSIVE COPYRIGHTS
It could’ve been worse. China is cracking down on big tech companies left and right, and there were rumors that Tencent Music might be forced to divest two of their three DSPs, which didn’t happen. What did happen, was they were fined a minimal amount and told they had to stop signing exclusive deals for (with a few exceptions), an order which they’ve claimed they will comply with.
We were interviewed by Billboard on the topic, in regards to how it would affect the industry going forward: “A large percentage of music has already been available on all Chinese streaming services, with the key holdouts being high-profile Chinese artists and independent labels, says Kyle Bagley, CEO of the Shanghai-based music marketing company Groove Dynasty. “As the music available on all services begins to level out, we’ll hopefully see the platforms working to improve their product in other ways to attract or retain users,” he says.”
// START PAYING ATTENTION TO BILIBILI
NetEase Cloud Music, the only real rival to Tencent Music Entertainment, which IPO’d in 2018 on the NYSE, is now This isn’t really news, but more general life advice. And you can take that as you want it: as an investor, musician, manager, rights holder, fan, or anything in between. I’ll break those down individually. BILI stock price is up 678% since it’s IPO in 2018, though that is around 40% down from it’s peak earlier this year (see story #1 for a bulk of the reason why). For fans, it’s just an awesome platform, where you can find content on music, video games, anime, original vlogs, and way way more. There are these goofy trends that go viral, usually involving EDM remixes of corporate themes or children’s songs that make it a fun app to browse. It also has a robust live stream feature with tons of good content. For the musicians, managers, and rights holders, it’s an awesome way to build a fan base, though currently not a good way to make any money, as they don’t have any system of paying royalties. Still worth it? Probably. We’re pushing a lot of our clients to use the platform and create content specifically for it. The usual ‘further reading’ below are news over the last year that I dig or other people’s tips for using the platform.
// KOLS UNDER GOVERNMENT SCRUTINY
KOLs, or ‘key opinion leaders’, are China’s version of influencers, and hold power on every platform there is. In the music world, they are used for promotion of music and music videos, playlists, original content with creators on Douyin and Bilibili, and more. We’ve written in the past about how they are incredibly useful, often fueled by bots, and other ways they affect the industry. New control from Beijing may put a damper on that, as regulations expected next year will require MCNs and other groups of KOLs to report all of their finances and activities to the government. For now, we’re still doing what we can to use these communities to aid in promotion of content
// KRIS WU FACING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS
The biggest and most recent story to hit China, though admittedly the one that may be least likely to interest this newsletter’s readers, is that Chinese pop star Kris Wu has apparently been detained in Beijing on allegations of rape, amidst many more allegations of cheating and other misconduct from exes. This is the star who last year was accused of faking sales to make the iTunes charts, which is when people discovered that his fans were actually so crazed they were buying multiple copies of the album to send it up the ranks. In any case, it’s safe to say that his career is over, as he’s been booted off of all of his social accounts, and all of his music was taken offline. Most fans have come to grips with this, while a select few maintain his innocence online, as does the artist and his mgmt. The most striking thing to me as a foreigner is how quickly all of this happened, noting that someone like R. Kelly still has a verified Instagram account, and you can still find all of his music on your favorite streaming service.
// RESERVOIR INVESTS IN OUTDUSTRY
A big congratulations to our fellow Chinese company Outdustry, which just took on investment from recently-IPO’d rights company Reservoir Media to invest further into developing markets and seek Chinese talent for a joint venture. Both are companies to keep your eyes on!
SPOTLIGHT // CHINESE MUSIC
This section highlights local Chinese artists, DJs, and labels.
// HYPERPOP and EMO-RAP
Somewhere between pop and hip-hop, new age and EDM, lies ‘hyperpop’. Some call it an anti-genre, or lack of a genre, something like a state of mind where you approach a pop song with the goal of making something that isn’t by definition ‘popular’. In China, there’s a wave of these artists, some making pop music, some making hip-hop, and everything in between. On the hip-hop side, it’s more clearly hip-hop stylistically but lyrically falls into an emotional space that is usually avoided by the genre. In short: I don’t really know, just listen.
Some random artist selections below:
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