Image credit: Sohu
Something is afoot in the Chinese digital music space. At the end of last year we saw a number of major music services including QQ Music, Baidu Music, Kugou and Duomi - having apparently reached a private agreement -
publicly announce [UPDATE 9th June 2013: They did not make a public announcement] start moving towards charging for their music services in the very near future (a Dec 31st 2012 deadline was mentioned but evidently not adhered to).
Fast forward to March 19th and an announcement from famous music composer, producer and TV talent judge, Gao Xiaosong, that July 1st was now the big date for the change and that “various record labels, music websites and the government are all doing the tail-end of the work. The Chinese online music market will step into an era of legal copies.”
The SPs initially took a “this is news to us” (Chinese article) approach, which then developed slowly into some kind of recognition of the situation. The assumption is that, as the new boss of a well funded music label, Gao Xiaosong tried to force the hands of the SPs by announcing early and putting pressure on people to actually deliver. He is also not shy of publicity either, it is worth noting.
Since then, rumours have been flying around the Chinese internet. Long time observers of the Chinese digital music landscape will be a little wary of any silver bullet solutions and supposed “deadlines”, having seen countless such announcements before, but there seems to be more convergence at play this time round. July 1st may not be the world changing event some have suggested, but broadly implemented paid-for music services now seem to be an inevitability in China.
With that in mind, we will be keeping a close eye on this story. As a primer for new-comers to the situation we have translated this recent round-up article from China Economic Weekly (via Sohu) for your reading pleasure: