Apple introduced Apple Music to China on Wednesday with a free three-month trial for new subscribers. Subscription to Apple Music will cost RMB 10 (USD 1.58) per month with family plans available for RMB 15 for up to 6 family members.
Apple is paying more attention to the Chinese market now. According to a survey commissioned by the Communications University of China, China’s online music market is worth RMB 4.36 billion. If Apple wants to take a share it will have to to beat back aggressive local rivals first.
AllChinaTech has put together the top online music platforms in China based on gross income rankings from Apple’s App Store. Their popularity among Apple users will be one of the biggest barriers to the development of Apple Music in China.
Kugou Music is an online music platform based in Guangzhou. The company was founded in 2003 and claimed to have over 800 million registered users at the end of 2014.
In 2015, the company merged with Omusic and Kuwo Music and formed Omusic Group, which gave Kugou Music all of Omusic’s publishing rights stemming from cooperation with over 40 music production companies. It’s reported that the new group is planning on going public by the end of this year. Kugou Music now holds rights to music from Sony/ATV, Universal Music Group and a few Chinese music-oriented reality shows.
In the wake of the increasing popularity of live casting, Kugou has launched a live broadcasting function on its app. The company claims, a total of 4 million people watched a recent music festival live casted on Kugou last weekend. Kugou also has other diverse functions: users can now shoot music videos and perform Karaoke through the app.
QQ Music is a subsidiary of China’s Internet giant Tencent, based around its QQ instant messaging platform – China’s biggest instant message tool. QQ Music claims to have over 800 million users with over 100 million daily active users.
Tencent has invested significantly in buying the rights to the music on its platform. Its database now has over 15 million authorized songs from companies including Sony, Warner Music Group, JVR and YG. It also has exclusive rights to music from the televised talent competition the ‘Voice of China.’ Users can stream music and download songs for free through QQ Music, certain properties however, including songs by popular American singer, Taylor Swift, are only available to members. QQ Music subscriptions cost RMB 12 a month or RMB 30 for three months. Live casting through QQ music is free.
As Tencent pushes its software to more smart devices like smart cars, QQ Music will be available through a growing variety of outlets in the market.
Baidu’s website used to be notorious for free music downloads in China. Baidu acquired TTPlayer, an online music player, in 2006 with TTPlayer having since been renamed to Baidu Music in 2013.
Baidu also offers free online music streaming and paid download services through its app. Membership with Baidu Music costs RMB 12 per month.
Earlier this month, it was rumored Baidu was considering selling its online music business as it switches its focus to the online-to-offline sector. Analysts say Baidu is not competitive compared with other online music companies with regards to its store of publishing rights.
NetEase Cloud Music
NetEase Cloud Music was launched in April 2013. By July 2015, it already had over 100 million registered users.
NetEase Cloud Music offers free online streaming and downloads through its app, although there are also songs that people have to pay for before listening and downloading. Users can choose to purchase individual singles or pay for a subscription to listen to the premium catalog on NetEase.
Compared with the previous online music platforms, NetEase has copy rights to five million songs, but NetEase’s strategy is different in that it focuses more on the social functions of its platform. Over 1,200 musicians have registered accounts at NetEase Cloud Music. Its celebrity radio channels and self-made playlists are popular among music fans.
Xiami was acquired by Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant, in 2013. It became a member of Alibaba’s new music Group, Ali Music, when it hired famous Chinese music producer and singer Gao Xiaosong as head of operations in July this year.
Xiami is reported to have over 20 million monthly active users and the rights to over 400 million songs from companies including Universal Records, Rock Records and HIM International Music. It focuses more on music production compared with other platforms and launched a plan to help musicians produce their own music in 2014. Albums produced through the plan are only only available through Xiami’s platform.
Xiami is connected to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao, with users being able to login with their Taobao accounts. Member subscriptions for Xiami are priced a little bit higher than the competition at RMB 18 (USD 2.86) per month. Xiami is reported to have been integrated into Ford’s App Link car operating system in newer model Ford cars.