Tencent joins forces with Apple Music to bring Chinese artists to global listeners

Apple Music users can stream a catalogue of Chinese songs made available by Tencent Music, the Shenzhen-based company said on Tuesday (Nov 9).
PHOTO: Reuters

The music-streaming arm of Tencent Holdings will make a catalogue of Chinese songs available to subscribers of Apple’s music-streaming service in a global partnership with the US giant.

The tie-up will allow record labels and artists who distribute their works through TME Music Cloud, a platform owned by Tencent Music Entertainment, to launch their content on Apple Music, said Tencent Music on Tuesday (Nov 9).

“Bringing TME’s premium music content from Chinese labels and creators to Apple Music users worldwide will enable music lovers to explore China’s unique music culture and genres, further enhancing the global discovery of Chinese music and assisting in the international development of Chinese musicians,” said Tencent Music in a statement.

The company declined to share details on which musicians and songs will be made available on Apple Music.

On Monday, New York-listed Tencent Music, which owns three of China’s most popular music streaming apps, reported that its number of paying users jumped 37.7 per cent year on year to 71 million in the quarter ended September, representing 11.2 per cent of its total users.

In comparison, 13.3 per cent of rival NetEase Cloud Music’s users, equivalent to 24 million users, had a paid subscription in the first quarter of 2021, according to a document filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange in August in preparation for a planned initial public offering, which had been put on hold amid tightening regulatory scrutiny by Beijing.

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Despite Tencent Music’s growing user base and a three per cent increase in revenue, the company saw a decline in profit from 1.13 billion yuan (S$238 million) to 740 million from a year earlier.

Tencent Music has been facing headwinds at home since July, when China’s antitrust watchdog, the State Administration for Market Regulation, slapped the company with a 500,000 yuan fine and ordered it to end exclusive music licensing deals with copyright holders, which had included the world’s biggest music companies such as Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.

The Shenzhen-based company relinquished its exclusive music rights in September, a move that allowed its closest rival NetEase Cloud Music to regain access to works distributed by Modern Sky, China’s biggest independent record label, which represents some of the country’s most popular bands, such as New Pants.

On Tuesday, NetEase announced that it has acquired a licence to stream songs from Emperor Entertainment Group, the Hong Kong-based label behind Canto-pop stars such as Joey Yung and Nicholas Tse.

Under Beijing’s July order, Tencent Music is still allowed to strike exclusive deals with independent artists lasting up to three years, as well as form partnerships on new releases.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

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