In the past five to ten years, the Chinese music market has been getting rid of piracy dominance and free services habits, moving to the current legalization and business model innovation. The streaming is particularly popular, the growth in streaming revenues was +41.1% in 2017, driving the digital revenue growth. We can also notice that digital accounts for 54% of the global revenue growth.
Unlike a lot of people’s sayings, the digitalization did not end musician’s career. It often offers tools to enrich the experience of music fans all over the world. This article will introduce you 3 of China’s hottest music apps. For advices on business in China, you can skip the app’s presentation part and reach the bottom of this article.
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Kugou Music 酷狗
KuGou Music is the most popular music player in China, almost known by all Chinese. It made its way to the top of the chart by appealing to a very wide audience, also users living in small towns, and a long time of establishment.
Besides listening music, users can listen to the radio, watch video, comments on songs and interact through the social media platform. Kugou has also integrated a KTV streaming section which enables users to gain “song coins” that can be transferred into real currency.
Kuwo is an app from Beijing which solves Chinese netizens’ demand for music listening. It calls that it has all of Chinese music and has the fastest speed of its update. So if people need to find the latest song in China like the ones from music shows such as “I am a Singer” or “The voice of China”, Kuwo is a good bet.
Kuwo has a focus on KTV streaming and even hosts KTV tournaments, engaging its users with cash rewards. It also manages a video streaming platform and broadcasts video content. However, the video content is usually bordering on trashy and does not suit a lot with the trend among young chinese people nowadays.
For the appearance, Kuwo has a neat slick interface to increase the general ease of use. Kuwo need Client software, it has a PC version and is also mobile-friendly. If you want to listen a song, you must download the Kuwo software first.
The app has 107.72 million MAU and like other apps, it offers song purchases and subscription. Kuwo is also trying to make money with in-app gaming and promotes its own brand of headphones and speakers (which are not very popular). There is a “Kuwo Headphones” section on its website where you can get the access to its Tmall store directly by clicking on it.
The difference between Kugou and Kuwo ?
People often get confused between Kugou and Kuwo because they have similar name and quite similar functions. In fact, Kuwo and Kugou were from different companies, Kuwo is from from a company based in Beijing and Kugou is from Guangzhou. The search function on Kugou Music is claimed to be better than on KuWo because you can search for popular songs by putting their lyrics while on KuWo, it requires the full name of the song.
Now they are linked, both owned by the China Music Corporation which merged with Tencent’s QQ Music in July 2016.)
NetEase cloud music 网易云音乐
This one is probably the most popular among nowadays young Chinese people. NetEase Music has 62.7 million MAU and became the first music service unicorn. It has a strong focus on indie artists, providing its users uncommon or less known songs. This is enabling it to compete with internet giants Tencent (which backs up Kuwo and Kugou) and Alibaba Group (operates Xiami Music), which have a big entertainment ecosystems and a huge influence on Chinese netizens.
The app offers short videos, live videos, and social features which enable users to comment, to share, to interact with other people. When loggin in, you have your own profile and the possibily to follow or being followed.
Music industry work side by side with a digitalized society
To engage consumers, music apps are leading consumers to subscribe in order to comment and access to more functionalities. To comments or save songs in your favorites list for example, you need to log in with your social media account (WeChat, QQ or Weibo account are often accepted) or to create one.
Music player platforms are not only for songs listening, these different apps often add diverse functionalities as we can see for Kugou and Kuwo : KTV streaming, video streaming, social media platforms and even e-commerce section. These are popular and useful to create a community and to keep users actives on their platforms.
What is interesting about China’s music streaming services is that they are all free. Most of the apps earn money by offering subscriptions for better audio quality, ads, concert tickets, virtual gift-giving, and song purchases. Nowadays, internet companies need to get data and enforce their users data base, that’s why they are also involving in entertainment app to better reach their consumers.
How can musician benefit from the digitalization ?
Even the fact to pay for music online in China wasn’t accepted by netizens, thing changed a lot over recent years.
The latest news proves that Chinese fans are enthusiastic enough to make the industry successful. In only three days after its release, Katy Perry’s album “Witness” ramped up 1.3 million purchases on China’s leading music apps, with NetEase Music taking the lead (in Chinese). Katy Perry’s new album “witness”, went live on NetEase cloud music (网易云音乐) and other music platforms, priced at 20 yuan/record. Otherwise, there is also the possibility to purchase a single, priced at 2 yuan each one.
There is also less-known musician, which are leveraging this kind of platform to interact with their fan and to promote their song.
How can companies benefit from the digitalization ?
The social media part included is these music app is an important innovation of their business model. Nowadays, Chinese people are very connected. Also, they spend a lot of their time on entertainment apps.
To reach your target consumer if you are doing business in music industry, you need to catch them online, leveraging social media platform. Big internet companies like Alibaba, Tencent noticed that early, that is why they have been involved into this industry.
If you want to develop your business in China, you need to understand consumer’s behaviors and preference
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