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Music and Video Websites


 For a more complete and detailed overview, please download the enitre chapter in PDF below


The absolute and relative contribution of online sales to the music industry is growing worldwide, reaching 5,2 billion US dollar or 32% in 2011. China follows the same trend, albeit more modestly. However, almost all of the income is earned by mobile (around 2,3 billion RMB in 2011). Websites have earned 380 million or around 8% of the music revenue in 2011 and 410 million in 2012.


  • Mobile is dominated by China Mobile. Its ring tones are downloaded by students and migrant workers, who may not have a lot of spending power but whose numbers are vast. The range of musical tastes of these groups is relatively limited. The copyright holder (called CP or content provider) usually gets around 1% of the revenue, 4% goes to the SP or service provider and 95% is earned by China Mobile. There are rumors that employees of China Mobile demand kickbacks for favorable placements, such as topping a download list.


Music distribution

It has proven difficult worldwide to build a business model just on the basis of music. Websites that enable you to meet strangers that have the same music preferences invariably fail. This is even more true for China, where audiences are reluctant to pay for music and it is difficult to target specific audiences because music preferences are not strongly diversified by genres. Still there are a number of websites that focus on sharing music.

  • Xiami is the PRC’s largest free music sharing website with 300 thousand daily users in 2011. All music of its vast catalog is available for live streaming and downloading.
  • Indievox
  • KKBox in Taiwan, where customers pay a monthly lump sum rather than fee for each song.


Video distribution

Audiences retain more attention and place more reviews if a website offers video, which makes these websites more interesting for advertisement agencies.

  • Young urbanites in the PRC rarely listen to on-the-air radio and do not watch much TV. They are more attracted to on line content, which is more liberal and has less commercials. In response, newspapers and radio and TV stations have developed into large media conglomerates that also have a substantial online presence.
  • Youtube, Vimeo and other global video streaming websites are blocked in mainland China, but accessible in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
  • Youku and Tudou are mainland China’s main video streaming companies. In 2011 they announced that they would merge.
  • Letv is a smaller company that also produces its own programs, sometimes discussing music.
  • Mogo offers live recordings of rock shows and interviews with bands.
  • Yinyuetai provides video clips of mainstream pop artists.
  • VeryCD is a download website (emule) that also offers on line streaming content.


Music services of social networking sites.

Another solution to make online music listening profitable is to embed this service into larger platforms.

  • Facebook is blocked in mainland China, but accessible in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
  • QQ music has 1.1 million daily users in 2011 and is the PRC’s only profitable music service. However, its contribution to the total revenue of QQ is dwarfed by for instance gaming.
  • Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging site. Its music listening service encourages users to create albums of their favorite songs and share them with their followers.
  • Douban is a review website. It doesn’t provide links for download, but it does provide on line radio and offers bands and musicians the opportunity to upload and share their own music. Douban also provides the most comprehensive list of live shows and cultural events in various cities in the PRC, making it a powerful and attractive platform for concert organizers and bands.  Many bands have uploaded (samples of) their music. Douban de facto functions as the PRC’s myspace or bandcamp (although all downloads are free).


Interactive music sites

Independent music sites that offer its users to interact with the music have proven to be relatively successful. Audiences can not only select and comment upon songs that suit their personality, but use online software to engage with the music directly, either by singing to it (online karaoke) or by creating remixes (online DJ). Other variants offer music related games, such recognizing songs.

  • Changba. Popular Karaoke app.
  • 5sing. Record and share your own vocal tracks, karaoke, a capela or original.
  • The sixth room. Create and share your own remixes and MC tracks online.
  • I am the king of guessing songs. Popular app. Samples the 200 most popular songs.


For a more complete and detailed overview, please download the enitre chapter in PDF below


also read: online music market update