China’s digital music industry is now the second largest in the world with over $2 billion in sales just last year–moreover, they are expected to surpass the US by 2024 with a $3 billion estimate, this according to an article in the South China Morning Post.
Streaming now accounts for approximately 20% of China’s digital music revenue, with live performances accounting for 70%.
China’s digital music market had been previously hindered by piracy, but with strict safeguards and practices now in place, it is now easier than ever to stream music legally in China. Of course, rapid advances in technology have helped China as well.
In 2006, only 10% of China’s population had access to to the internet, whereas nowadays that number has risen to 70%.
Only a decade ago, 99% of China’s music was pirated–but most consumers now listen to licensed music, marking a stunning reversal. More than 650 million Chinese people now listen to music via streaming, marking an 80% increase. Interestingly, the Chinese platforms make most of their revenue from live streaming, advertisements, VIP membership, and selling concert tickets–unlike other apps like Spotify or Apple Music which rely heavily on subscriptions.
The big players in the Chinese music market include Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME) and Netease Cloud Music–both vying for the lucrative streaming opportunities for such a large population.
Warner Music has also tapped into the Chinese market–in 2014, they acquired the Gold Typhoon Group, one of the country’s largest independent music companies. Sony and Universal have also both inked agreements with TME.
One thing is clear: with a population of 1.4 billion people, streaming music will continue to redefine the way the Chinese people consume music.