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Music Experience in China: Tencent, unstoppable leader

You are a music lover, a melomaniac? So am I and here is my experience with music in China.

You will quickly notice you have to change your Western habits and download other apps to stream music. Indeed, unless you connect via a VPN, YouTube isn’t available and no neither are Deezer, SoundCloud, Dailymotion, Pandora. Though, TIDAL and Napster are accessible in China. So is Spotify without a VPN but you need a premium account to enjoy all its features. An alternative to YouTube is YouKu, which is the Chinese YouTube. Needless to say content is different as most videos are in Chinese. Still, you can find what you are looking for if you copy paste Chinese characters from an online translator. Bing and Baidu are accessible without a VPN and are very efficient browsers to search and translate. Here in China there are lot of apps that allow you to access most music for free.

Let me introduce my favorites. All of them are free on Google PlayStore, Apple Store and Mi Store (Xiaomi – 小米 Store). Yes, they are FREE. QQ Music – QQ音乐

Desktop version: Windows and Mac

The most popular music streaming and download service app held by the giant Tencent creators of WeChat. Their market shares in China’s digital music is about 39% which is enormous.Now let’s look at one in-app feature. Just as Shazam, QQ Music has its own song recognising mini-app. First step: press the red circled icon Press the main button to ask QQ Music data to recognise the song actually playing Here you are! QQ Music found the music just as Shazam.Here is a quick overview of how to use QQ Music on a smartphone.

KuGou Music – CoolDog – 酷狗音乐

Desktop version: Windows only

One of the largest music streaming service in the world owning 29% of Chinese market’s share.

Kuwo Music – 酷我音乐

Desktop version: Beta
The third giant in music streaming service in China owning 13% of market’s shares.

Basically, all Chinese music apps developed a social category which allows them to dig even deeper into the users consumption habits. It is interesting to see the incredible number of features they offer.

KuWo Social aspect

Features of KuGuo Music

NetEase –   网易

Desktop Version: Windows and Mac

This video will introduce you on how to quickly log in and enjoy NetEase streaming platform on your laptop.

Xiami – 虾米音乐
Not to confound with Xiaomi

Desktop version: Windows and Mac

Log in via Taobao

I manage to log in to Xiami thanks to my Taobao account. This is quite impressive !Now let’s log in on the desktop version of Xiami Music and search some music!Why is it free?Chinese music apps are not as profitable as Spotify is in the Western world. Spotify users pay $10 monthly whereas the average for a Chinese music app premium account is around $1.5. QQ music premium accounts holders have access to high quality songs to download whereas Spotify premium account holders are given ad free service, downloadable content and the best audio quality. These two opposite services are intimately linked to local business. Chinese music market is enormous. They can afford to spend huge amounts of money on advertising and development and offer low cost premium accounts ($1.5) since they are 4 times as many QQ Music monthly as Spotify‘s monthly users.

However QQ Music only has 10m people subscribers which is much lower than Spotify’s 30m subscribers. Half of all the Chinese users bought online service on music apps this year according to Chinese analyst iResearch. There is a huge willingness to pay for music in China. Andy Ng, Tencent’s Vice president estimated 700m people are using music streaming apps to listen to music. If Tencent manage to reach the same conversion rate of free users to subscribers as Spotify (around 30%) it would provide a huge income to the music industry.

What about smaller apps?


Baidu Music logo
Baidu – 百度音乐

Desktop version: Windows

Duomi logo
Duomi – 多米音乐

Desktop version: Windows

TTPOD logo
TTPOD – Alibaba

Desktop version: Windows & Mac

What’s next?Watch out! Keep yourself aware of the Chinese app market.

Smallers apps don’t stand a chance as Tencent acquired Kuwo and KuGuo for $2.7bn last year. The three majors’ music apps are now held by Tencent which now owns over 77% of Chinese digital music market share. Tencent formalised a deal that merged Tencent QQ music business with China Music Group (CMC) to form the biggest Music company in China called Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME).

Chinese music market has clearly an untapped potential. The giant Tencent thought ahead and thanks to the financial heft they have created a huge gap between themselves and their competitors in the music industry. Right now they seem unstoppable as their desire to innovate user experience never ceases to grow.Don’t hesitate to comment below if you have any question.